I am a bit flustered with being misunderstood. This is not a political blog, because in general I would rather keep my politics to myself-ish. This is especially true when it comes to the Palestinian issue. My heart and prayers go out those suffering and whose only crime was unfortunately being born Palestinian without the resources to immigrate out of Gaza.
With that said, the debates, FB posts, Twitter feeds for me, have a stifling effect. It’s like if you don’t have anything buy shame on you Israel (which I acknowledge needs to be said, there has got to be a better way to “defend” yourself than to cause the kind of loss of civilian life that has occurred, it just smacks of there being more behind this tactic…but I am digressing).
What I am trying to say is while many people (rightly) feel like they can’t say anything against Israel for fear of being labled an anti-Semite, I submit that there are those who feel like they can’t say anything nuanced on the pro-Palestine side either. And I am sick of it.
What brought this on. A Facebook post, like many others that I have seen over the past few. It referenced an article discussing how news outlets were giving biased news (think more air-time for Israeli side vs. Palestinians, more positive representation for them as well, etc.). It’s all probably true.
But then the person indirectly compared the Gaza coverage to that of the Nigerian school girls and said something to the effect of 300 school girls get kidnapped and there was so much attention around that, but 283 people die on a plane in Malaysia and there is not more coverage of that after filming corpses for two days.
The larger argument, from what I understand is that the media does not cover Muslims in a positive light and makes light of issues that affect Muslims. Fair enough.
But I (doing something that I rarely do) tried to offer a nuanced slightly counter-argument. I will admit the reference to the school girls offended me… I can’t say that he suffering of those girls is any less than those of people of Gaza… pain is pain. To top it off, um for all the attention that this issue received, it didn’t bring back a single girl. So at the end of the few months of media blitz, the Boko Haram story is back to where it was in the media: largely ignored, just like most conflicts and nuanced portrayals of human suffering in sub-saharan Africa. The Palestinian cause on the other hand, will never suffer that fate. Because, even if it’s lopsided coverage, the issue is out there. Now, social media and alternative media serve as counterbalances to what mainstream (US) media says about it. Progress? Hell yes. Although it doesn’t do much for those being bombed right now.
This point went over the heads of the usual suspects. My friend who posted the commentary of another person, interpreted my rebuttal as focusing on media cycles, while she was talking about a larger issue… wtf! I am talking about a larger issue.
And here is where Gazelle gets real. THERE IS A PROBLEM IN ARAB AND SOUTH ASIAN MUSLIM COMMUNITIES WHEN IT COMES TO GIVING A HOOT ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF MUSLIMS OUTSIDE OF THE ARAB WORLD AND SOUTH ASIA. This in my experience is especially true for the American Muslim community. I don’t understand how people can condemn people for not caring or being able to empathize with an issue because it’s not close home, but then turn around and to the same.
This episode took me back to graduate school, when I wanted to work on the whole erasure authenticity of Muslims of African Descent thing. I think about that work more than just from time to time. But I’m tired. These same tired debates, misunderstandings and being left with feelings of wtf when trying to explain things just make me tired. Am I that unclear as a writer?
Am I that unclear when I speak?
I am having a flashback of a presentation I gave in class to my international classmates and my Arab Muslim teacher. It was on why tensions sometimes exist between African-American Muslims and Arab and South Asian Muslims. I charted the history of Islam in America, highlighted the importance of the Nation of Islam as force for the conversion of the largest number of African-Americans to orthodox Islam, the rise of Arab and South Asian Immigration and these communities setting up organizations that represent Muslims on the national stage. I also talked about 9/11 and how that made this largely socio-economically comfortable (and previously looked at as almost white) community of immigrants among the most persecuted rungs of American society.
I explained that tensions come in when some African Americans (including video from a prominent one) feel like they have been ignored, and issues affecting the African-American Muslim community are not addressed by these organizations set up by immigrant Muslims.
My teacher didn’t get it. Of course Muslim issues are things like Palestine and the US War in Iraq. What the heck are black issues? ….
That was basically his contribution to the Q&A…. ***** Face Palm**** I am just feeling like that again this evening. It will get better, but for now, I am done. It is easy to point to the external enemy and say shame on you, but the harder issue of dealing with the tensions and dysfunctionality in your own community.
There is strength in Numbers.
Gazelle has got to pick her battles.