It must be that Arab Men cannot write, in much the same manner that white men cannot jump. You rarely see a newspaper article with an Arab-American byline. It seems that all major American newspapers have an “Arabs need not apply” sign hanging on their door. The sign is not immediately visible, but it might as well be displayed in flashing neon lights. These Arab-Americans cannot write, so why hire them as journalists?
You can find thousands of Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans successfully making a living as doctors, engineers and in small business. Indeed, statistically, they tend to be among the most successful of immigrants. That does not even take into consideration the fact that many are native born second, third and fourth generation Americans. The occasional Arab-American has even made it to the US Senate. But, they cannot write.
A careful scrutiny of the bylines in major American papers will turn up nary a single columnist who is of Arab heritage or Muslim faith. Send out your own search party and they will certainly return empty-handed. Even the agnostics need to have abandoned the ‘correct’ faith before being allowed into the hallowed halls of the editorial rooms at the New York Times and the Washington Post. Moreover, god forbids, they should be syndicated.
It is astonishing that there are dozens of respectable English language daily papers in Beirut and Cairo and Amman and in every corner of the Gulf. Yet Arab-Americans seem to be deemed unfit to put pen to paper once they hit the shores of these United States. Upon landing on American shores, these children of a culture long defined by its verbosity lose their ability to speak and write. It must be the water.
European-Americans, especially those of Jewish heritage, are masters of the American idiom. They are so brilliant when it comes to practicing the craft of journalism that there is perhaps no need to hear the voices of other, less verbally gifted Americans. And they are so even-handed in covering all manner of subjects that we have no cause to doubt that their agendas have their roots in goodwill to all men, even those who can’t seem to write worth a damn. We can always count on the Judeo-Christian Euro-centric East Coast media elite to do the right thing for the rest of us. If they spin, we all win.
Who would dare question that these mega media ‘journalists’ would allow their ethnicity to effect their professional ethics? Even on the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we are constantly assured that we will get balanced journalism from American-Jewish journalists like Thomas Friedman, Charles Krauthamer, Mona Charen, Deborah Sontag, William Safire and Jeff Jacoby. When you are publishing Anthony Lewis, who needs to read Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi.
Aside from the Middle East, who would possibly expect an Arab-American to have a worthy printable opinion on tax cuts or civil rights or chads or Bosnia or Haider or Temptation Island or Ashcroft? Speaking of the Ashcroft hearings, it is worth noting that our esteemed Senators are fond of entering editorials from the New York Times and the Washington Post into the congressional record. It seems that they also are at a loss for words and need to give their arguments a boost by referring to the editorial opinions of the very ethnic New York Times.
How can you even call yourself an American and not trust the noble intents of Ted Turner, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and Rupert Murdoch? What possible ethnic ax would they have to grind? Why would we expect them to include Arab-Americans, an ethnic group that collectively cannot properly phrase an opinion, in the debate over American policy in the Middle East? Surely, what is good for the Jews must be good for every other ethnic group in America. We already have eleven Jewish Senators watching out for the interests of all the minorities in America. Why would we need an African-American or a Hispanic Senator? Their voices can audibly be heard in the lesser House.
Those who complain of lacking a voice in America, simply must lack enough coherence to be worthy of a hearing. We not only have a free press in our glorious republic, we also have free market ownership of bully pulpits and may the richest loudest bully win. On the subject of the Middle East, the Israel Firsters have invested good money in securing their place as the designated voice of America. What possible harm could come of that?
One of the inherent problems of allowing all these immigrants onto our blessed soil is that sooner or later they will start to whine about faith based apartheid journalism. If they don’t like what they read, let them buy their own TV network like Murdoch, or go back where they came from. It is one thing to give these ethnic minorities freedom of speech, but why should they get access to a mega media platform without paying for it. Must we constantly remind them of how Reagan stood up for himself and let Carter know who paid for the mike. The sheepish Carter was left to dig in his pocket for enough money to talk back to Reagan. Just take a good look at Ted Turner, who started with a billboard company and has nurtured that journalistic tradition into Headline News. CNN has now become a ‘global’ billboard company and Turner still has no need for Arabs or Muslims to muck up the glue. Besides, he now has veto power at the United Nations.
If these Arab-Americans want to be heard in the debate over the fate of the Palestinians let them voice their views with a respectful Yiddish accent, like Fouad Ajami. Enough already, about International Law and Human Rights and Jewish supremacy in Israel. If Arab-Americans really care about these things, they should first develop an aptitude for writing and talking in a manner that is acceptable to Murdoch and Turner and Sulzberger and Graham. Until then, Anthony Lewis will speak for them. If the Americans who are of the Islamic faith tradition want to call attention to Chechnya or Kashmir or Palestine, let them buy their own billboard company. It would not hurt if they would show appropriate courtesy to the mega media titans. Better yet, they should see what the going price is for ABC or CBS. If you want to be heard in the American halls of power, buy yourself a hefty microphone.
So, you want to complain about Sharon’s violent past? You want to compare Sharon’s record with Waldheim’s? Write a letter to the editor, if you can write.
Mr. Ahmed Amr is Editor of NileMedia.com in Seattle and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN)