Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Descendants of Slaves, Forerunners of Justice:
American Muslims Must Stop Apologizing
By Ramzy Baroud
CCUN, March , 2017
|Americans protest Trump's
Descendants of Slaves, Forerunners of Justice: American Muslims
Must Stop Apologizing
I had recently been asked to give a
talk about “being an American Muslim in the United States.” Although wary of
the uses and abuses of the term, I obliged.
Islam is a religion
propelled by values, not race nor, theoretically, by blind tribal
allegiances, I explained.
The 'American Muslim' identity which has
been under constant investigation in US media, politics and society is
completely different from what American Muslims associate themselves with.
The media's 'American Muslim' is a suspect, a fifth column, potentially
dangerous and more receptive to violence than every other collective
identity in the US. While this contrasts sharply with real Islam, facts
hardly matter in the age of American nationalism, predicated on cultural and
religious identification and 'alternative facts'.
Caught within this
brutal, baseless logic, some American Muslims no longer define themselves
around their own political priorities, nor do they mobilize themselves
alongside their natural allies – those who come from historically oppressed
communities. Instead, they have taken to apologizing for their
‘Muslim-ness’, rather than demand an apology, justice and equality.
Many Muslims find themselves, as a collective, being forced to demonstrate
their humanity, defend their religion and distance themselves from every act
of violence, even if only allegedly committed by a Muslim anywhere in the
Long before the Trump Administration's 'Muslim Ban' - banning
citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days
- Muslims in the US have always, to varied degrees, been embattled,
collectively demonized, racially profiled by government agencies and
targeted in numerous hate-crimes by fellow Americans.
hatred of Muslims goes back even before 9/11, and the US war in Iraq in
1990-91 – a hatred based solely on media fear-mongering and Hollywood
There is also an odd ‘discovery’ by various liberal
groups that American Muslims are mistreated in their own country.
truth, the cause of the 'defenseless Muslim' is used as a political tool,
with Democrats and others attempting to undermine the actions of their
The administrations of Democratic presidents,
Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, both had horrific
legacies of violence and discrimination against Muslim countries.
In a landmark study released
in March 2015, the Washington-based group, Physicians for Social
Responsibly, showed that the US self-styled 'war on terror' had killed
anywhere between 1.3 million to 2 million Muslims in the first ten years
since the September 11 attacks.
Ahmed, concluded that at least 4 million Muslims have been killed by the
US since 1990.
This excludes killings that have taken place in the
last two years, or the countless civilians who perished during the
US-sanctions on Iraq, starting 1991, which were enforced throughout the
Yet, all this is meant to be ignored and
seen merely as the issue of an obnoxious president and that the pinnacle of
the American violence against Muslims can be reduced to a 90-day travel ban
on selected countries.
Subscribing to this mischaracterization
reflects both ignorance and also complete disregard for the millions of
innocent lives that have been lost, in order for the US to preserve
its vastly dwindling empire.
At the Democratic Party National
Convention (DNC) last July, former President Bill Clinton took the stage to
articulate a retort to the Republican party convention's hate-fest of
Muslims, Blacks, Latinos and everyone else who did not subscribe to their
skewed view of the world.
words were a mere liberal spin on the same chauvinistic, racist and exclusionist
culture that often drives the political discourse of the Right.
“If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror,
stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you,” Clinton
said before a large audience, which roared in applause.
Muslims, feeling that their inclusion, citizenship and humanity are
conditioned by a set of condescending rules, articulated by a White,
Christian elite, is utterly dehumanizing.
What Clinton has wished to
forget is that an estimated third
of the slaves who built his country were, in fact, Muslims - shackled
and dragged against their will to assemble the United States, field by field
and brick by brick. It is the slaves that mainly brought Islam to America,
and it is Islam that armed them with the virtue of patience and strength of
character in order to survive one of the most ghastly genocides in human
Precisely for this reason, the identity of the American
Muslim is, at its heart, a political one, concerned with human rights,
justice and equality, with Black
Muslims playing a tremendous role in confronting, challenging and
clashing with the ruling White elitist order that controlled the US from the
It is the Martin-Luther King Jr.-Malcolm X-type movements
– backed by millions of Black people throughout the country – that helped
define the modern character of the Black American. They led the Civil Rights
Movement, exacting basic human rights at a heavy price and against terrible
It is important that American Muslim youth understand this
well, and that their fight for equality and human rights in their country is
not a manifestation of some Democratic Party's political game.
aspiring to be the 'good Muslim', the Uncle Tom, the 'not-all- Muslims- are-
terrorists' type, can only hope for a second-class status. But those who
aspire for true equality and justice ought to remember the words of American
revolutionary, Assata Shakur: “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has
ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of people who were
The oppressors constantly try to redefine the
nature of the struggle of those whom they oppress. For Bill Clinton, the
issue is solely Islamic terrorism, never the terror inflicted upon Muslim
nations by his and other administrations through a series of unjust wars and
sanctions, killing millions.
The colonizer, oppressor, invader is
always blind to his crimes. He sees only the violent reaction – however
minuscule – of the people whom he subjugates.
According to the New America Foundation, alleged 'Jihadists' killed 94
people in the US from 2005-2015, during which time the US also killed nearly
2 million Muslims in their own countries.
Yet, the government
media-driven, fear-mongering, anti-Muslim and anti-Islam discourse (for
which both liberals and conservatives are equally responsible) has made
terrorism the leading fear among Americans, according
to a major national survey in 2016.
In his book, Wretched
of the Earth, one of the 20th century most powerful revolutionary
voices, Frantz Fanon, wrote, “Each generation must discover its mission,
fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.”
For this generation
of American Muslims, this is their moment - to discover and fulfill their
mission, to define and assert who they are as the descendants of slaves,
immigrants and refugees – the three main building blocs of America.
- Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years.
He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author
of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His books
include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest
“My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net
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