Thursday, February 23, 2006

George J. Mitchell, Arab American

George J. Mitchell, former Democratic U.S. Senator from Maine, current Chairman of the Walt Disney Corporation, and one of the principal architects of the Good Friday Belfast Peace Agreement, is half Lebanese.

More about George J. Mitchell from Wikipedia.

John H. Sununu, Arab American

John H. Sununu, former Republican Governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of Staff under George H. W. Bush, is of Lebanese and Palestinian descent.

His son, John E. Sununu, is a Republican U.S. Senator representing New Hampshire.

More about John H. and John E. from Wikipedia.

Ralph Nader, Arab American

Consumer activist and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader is of Lebanese descent.

More about Ralph Nader from Wikipedia.

He and his mother wrote a cookbook that sounds pretty good.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Several questions, need answers

Like many Americans, when I found out about the deal to let UAE-based Dubai Ports World run U.S. ports, I was more than a little concerned.

And also like many Americans, I have questions about whether this company can guarantee security and whether this deal is in the best interests of the United States, and so I support efforts of Congress to obtain answers.

But when President Bush asks why it's okay for a British company (or, one would assume, a Japanese, or German, or Australian company) to run our ports, but not an Arab one, I think I'd like an answer to that one to.

And I don't think "just because they're Arab" is a very good one.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Speaking as a raghead . . .

Speaking as a raghead--or half a raghead anyway, I have to say I'm heartened by the response from across the blogosphere's political spectrum regarding Ann Coulter's remark at CPAC.

According to Ryan Sager:
Ann Coulter proposes a new "post-9/11 rule":
"Rag-head talks tough, rag-head faces consequences."
Ann Coulter would consider herself a conservative, but a wide range of conservative writers and bloggers have criticized and/or condemned this remark, among them Jonah Goldberg, Will Collier, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hackbarth, Rick Moran, James Joyner, and others. It's nice to see.

I can't say the same for some other comments I've read, though, many of them as responses to those bloggers I listed above. Many root her on. Several wrote that it's okay to use such a term, since "they" want to cut everyone's head off. Never mind that the term is a slur against an entire ethnicity (really multiple ethnicities), only a small percentage of which are interested in decapitating people.

Other commenters write that "raghead" is only intended to refer to Muslim terrorists. This is like saying that "dago" only refers to Mafia hitmen, or that when you say "nigger" you don't mean "the good ones" (I've heard that one a lot in my time, unfortunately).

In my experience, "raghead" is a general term of disparagement for Arabs, or perhaps more accurately persons of Middle Eastern descent. It's certainly not as bad as "sand nigger," which I've heard more than once too, but it's nevertheless a slur, right about at the level of "camel jockey." That's how everyone intended it who ever used it around me, anyway.

I've never been called that to my face, mind you; I'm half Arab, and look vaguely Mediterranean, and I suppose these friends and acquaintances don't even think about it half the time. Some never realize what they've said, and others have realized and apologized.

I've always tried to just forget about it. I have yet to succeed.

That's not to say I don't forgive, or that I bear those people any ill will. I still call some of them friends. And in weak moments, I've made a few stupid, disparaging generalizations myself. I seriously doubt there's anyone who hasn't. One quick glance at history will tell us that it's a tendency we've been battling forever. So an offhand slur isn't worth getting very worked up over. We are all of us sinners, or so the book says.

Ethnic slurs are bad because they foment stereotyping and prejudice against an entire group of people based purely on their DNA. From what I know, there's never been a race or ethnicity whose DNA was evil. On the other hand, there have been lots of wholly evil individuals from all races, ethnicities, religions, and walks of life, evil because of the choices they made, the actions they took; Islamist terrorists are such individuals, and they deserve to be condemned along with all other evil persons.

As I've said before, I can't speak for Muslim Arabs. I don't know any. I imagine most want peace. But there are plenty of Arabs who aren't even Muslim. In this country, close to 75% of Arabs are Christian, and many have been here for three generations or more.

I'm one of those such people: a half-Arab, non-Muslim, third-generation American. A few strands of DNA are all I have in common with Islamist terrorists. I find their actions despicable and abhorrent.

Don't lump me in with them.

Let's not sink to the level of those we're fighting against. And thanks again to everyone who isn't.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

General John Abizaid, Arab American

From Wikipedia:
John Philip Abizaid (born April 1, 1951) is a general in the United States Army and the Commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), overseeing American military operations in a 25-country region, from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, covering much of the Middle East.

Abizaid was born in the United States to a Christian Lebanese-American family, is fully fluent in Arabic, and is the most senior military officer of direct Arab descent. His nickname at West Point was “The Mad Arab.”

Shannon Elizabeth, Arab American

The highly attractive actress and model Shannon Elizabeth is part Lebanese and Syrian.

More about Shannon Elizabeth from Wikipedia. (You can search for online galleries of her yourself.)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Muslim Site Apologizes for Violence

According to this Norway newspaper article, some apparently moderate Muslim groups have set up a site in which they apologize for the violence other Muslims have committed over the Danish cartoons.

Very good to see.

(via Vodkapundit.)

Doug Flutie, Arab American

Doug Flutie, Heisman Trophy winner and longtime CFL and NFL quarterback, perhaps best known for his Hail Mary Pass against Miami Hurricanes in 1984, is of Lebanese descent.

More about Doug Flutie from Wikipedia.

Other famous Arab-American pro football players include Jeff George, Bill George, and Abe Gibran. Some folks on the Internet have claimed that John Elway is Arab American, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

Steve Jobs, Arab American

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, chairman and CEO of Pixar, and soon to be the largest individual shareholder of the Walt Disney Company, is of Syrian descent.

More about Jobs from Wikipedia.