Whoever said “Ignorance is bliss!” must have been joking, but no one finds this statement funny anymore, in particular the immigrant Muslim community in Dearborn.
After listening to remarks by some Republican pre-candidates during the Republican debate, we cannot help but wonder what will happen to our country if common sense does not prevail.
Whether you are a first-generation American or whether your family migrated to the US generations ago, the fact is that today´s promotion of racism and discrimination has no precedent in our recent history. Not since WWII, when over 100,00 Japanese Americans suffered the indignity of being placed in internment camps in their own country, had we seen anything like it.
The internment of Japanese Americans was the result of anti-Japanese paranoia that spread like fire through American towns. As a result of this situation, Japanese Americans lost their homes (which, according to ushistory.org, “were often sold at a fraction of their true value”). It was not until 1988, that Congress issued a half-hearted apology for their actions by awarding each surviving intern $20,000. In fact, according to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California, the Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act of 1948 paid those affected a total of $38 million — less than 10 cents for every dollar lost “.
And now, history attempts to repeat itself in the words and proposed actions of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and others.
Some publications are preferring to mostly focus on “who attacked whom” during the Republican presidential debate, instead of focusing on what each candidate has to offer to benefit our country. Some channels are actually “counting” how many times candidates attacked each other. These debates have lost their effectiveness and seriousness and have become more like a comedy shows. Still, they are dangerous to watch, as many people actually believe what they hear, and agree that violation of human rights and hostility are the right path for us to grow as a nation. And this is simply not so.
The fact that elementary and middle schools do not incorporate world history and world geography in their curriculum has a lot to do with people feeling scared and siding with the most radical and aggressive candidates. According to American author H.P. Lovecraft, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”. When you know nothing about those who are different from you, you tend to believe whatever someone else tells you — in particular a public figure.
Ignorance is also fueled by the fact that “the United States has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the developed world”, according to Newsweek, and low income has numerous effects on people: lower levels of education, less or no international travel, and a growing resentment.
The idea of finding a common enemy to blame was precisely what Adolph Hitler exploited during WWII. He began speaking publicly against the Jews, blaming them for Germany´s economic woes, and promising to make Germany a world power through his extreme racist actions. Isn´t that precisely what some political pre candidates are offering us today right here in the United States? During WWII, we fought to defeat Hitler´s extreme views, and now we are taking the same racist attitude ourselves. What is happening to our country?
The anti-Muslim rhetoric repeated by some Republican candidates is particularly frightening to the population in the city of Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn is home to the largest, oldest, and most diverse Arabic population in the world outside the Middle East. Arab Americans living there come from 22 different countries, and according to arabamerica.com, they are ethnically, religiously, and politically diverse, including Christians; Maronite, Melkite, Syrian, Roman and Chaldean Catholics; Antiochian, Syrian, and Coptic Orthodox; Sunni, Shia, Druze, and Protestant Muslims. A large number of Arab Americans are highly educated and their median income is 22% higher than the national average in the United States.
Arabic men, women, and children in Dearborn worry today because of the notoriety they have achieved through the rhetoric of some political candidates who look for votes by instilling fear in voters.
Multicultural communications firm Allied Media Corporation published the website: “100 Questions and Answers about Arab Americans”, that could help the general public understand and learn more about the Arab American community.
“…one reason many Arab American families immigrated was to escape the very conflicts that continue today. Mideast issues can unify the Arab vote in America. News coverage, including wire stories and headlines, must be balanced, accurate, detailed and fair. Reporters and editors must work to understand the issues… We urge you to give these issues the attention they deserve by continuing to read, to interview sources on all sides and to make a long-term commitment to increasing your understanding . For it is only with understanding that we can practice fair and accurate journalism”, states Arab American Media Consulting.
Perhaps we should all learn more about the issues discussed by our candidates before we vote in next year’s presidential election.