Saturday, December 17, 2011

ADC has failed to protect American-Arabs

                The mentality imbedded into Arab culture from decades of decadent dictators ruthlessly ruling is that everyone wants to lead and nobody wants to follow.  Thus we have too many chiefs and no warriors. It is the same with our American-Arab organizations. Every organization wants to operate exclusively from the rest of any other organization to the detriment of the American-Arab advancement.
                This past two weeks the American-Arab community missed a golden opportunity to confront bigotry and racism in the Newt Gingrich and Lowes Corporation Islamophobia incidences.   While major American-Arab organizations each individually tried to “do something” their efforts will be unsuccessful because each claps with one hand.
                The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has failed miserably to live by its mandate to fight discrimination.  When Lowes pulled its ads from the TV show “All American Muslim” because an insignificant organization called Florida Family Association objected to a positive portrayal of Muslims in the US, ADC should have taken immediate action.   This weekend, finally, ADC is trying to organize demonstrations in front of Lowes stores across the country. Too little too late.
ADC should have rallied immediate widespread support across the country to organize massive telephone calls to Lowes customer care center during this Christmas gift giving season—effectively shutting down their telephone operations.  ADC needs a rapid response action alert system whereby it can respond to acts of racism and discrimination within hours. After 30 years of operation, it is absolutely amazing that ADC does not have such a system.  ADC should use the electronic media in set up a rapid text messaging system to move the young people to action.
                Each American-Arab organization has a specific purpose.  As I stated, ADC’s mandate is to fight discrimination.  The American-Arab Institute (AAI) headed by Jim Zogby and George Salem, has distinguished itself as the leading organization in improving American-Arab participation in the electoral process by increasing the number of voters (Yalla Vote), getting people to become involved in political campaigns or assisting candidates to run for political office.  The American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine (AFRP) and other town based Palestinian organizations keep their members together because of their loyalties to their specific town. Religious organizations have a specific faith based membership.  Political organizations who owe their allegiance to a particular party or government in the Middle East have their own agendas.  Business organizations, who can really benefit from a cohesive community, have not attempted to produce an environment of cooperation.
                What is common to all these organizations is a self interest in promoting the American-Arab image. Everyone wants greater American-Arab participation in the electoral process; wants to stop the discrimination and the Islamophobia engulfing America; wants to promote family ties between members of “hometowns” in the Middle East; wants to promote religious activities within the community and wants a strong business community.  Yet each organization acts so independently that the greater good does not prevail and ironically, the interest of each organization is thus marginalized.
                ADC should reach out to AAI, AFRP and other cultural, political and religious organizations to promote the common interest of fighting discrimination and Islamophobia. AAI should reach out to ADC and these other organizations and help promote participation in the American electoral system.  The AFRP and other organizations should encourage its members to participate in ADC, AAI and others to promote American-Arab causes. 
                The problem with these leading organizations is that they operate in a mutually exclusive environment rather than a mutually inclusive environment.  Each organization is doing whatever it does with its own members rather than working together to get beneficial results which benefit the entire community. In the final analysis, the result of each organization is a dismal failure.
                Thus when Lowes and Newt Gingrich took aim at the American-Arab community, they did it knowing that the community does not have the ability to fight back.  This is really sad.
                It is time for American-Arabs to start telling its organizations to start cooperating with each other. They owe it to each other, they owe it to the American-Arab community. 

(  © Copyright, Fadi Zanayed.  Publication or distribution of this material is allowed provided its content is not altered and the source and its author are cited.)


  1. Fadi, I liked your article but I have a few questions that I find troubling. The first is the identification between "Arab" and "Islam. Part of my ancestry is from Arab societies, but we are Jewish, and I find the assumption that Arab = Islam to be troubling. I known many Christians from the Arab World (and in the Arab World) also feel a bit conflicted by that kind of identification. Americans, in general, out of ignorance, fail generally to make that distinction, and need to be educated - that not all Arabs or people from Arab cultures are Muslim and while being part of Arab culture means sharing many cultural things with Muslims, it does not make one a Muslim. (2) I have a question about Arab-American organizations. I can see a role in protecting Arab-Americans from discrimination and I support that goal, but to what degree have they been co-opted by people that might not see defending and promoting Arab-Americans in general on a non-sectarian basis.

  2. Efraim, I agree with you that Americans generally fail to make realize that Arabs are both Muslim and Christian. I wrote the article to show that all of us, Christians and Muslims, have a common interest in preventing attacks on Arabs. As a Christian, I feel I must protect Arabs in general, because a negative impact on Muslims affects me as an Arab. I would hope that an attack on Christian-Arabs would be fought by my Muslim friends. With regards to your second question, I believe that sectarian organizations can and should promote Arab causes, like battling discrimination, because discrimination does not identify an Arab as a Muslim or a Christian but attacks all Arabs. Thus they should see the common element in us all--we are all Arabs. The point of my article is to get organizations to act for the greater good and not on a sectarian basis. I feel they can promote their self interest when they espouse non-sectarian views.