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My Response to Bill Clinton: On (My) Liberty and (Your) America

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Does Bill Clinton know that the majority of victims of terrorism are, in fact, Muslims?

His speech writer should have at least checked on the US government's own records. According to a 2011 report issued by the US government's National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC), "Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years."

In fact, with the advent of so-called Daesh (which was spawned from Al-Qaeda and which materialized in Iraq only after the US invasion of that country in 2003) the percentage of Muslim victims must be far higher.

As if American Muslims have not already suffered tremendously; they have been victims of racial and religious discrimination and violence for years. The media has been nothing but a hate fest targeting them, their core values and loyalty to their own country. Many of them are constantly being singled out as if they do not belong or cannot be trusted.

This is not an issue of mere societal perception based on media disinformation but is, in fact, cemented in US law, starting with the "Secret Evidence" law in 1996 and the USA Patriot Acts that followed.

The unfortunate fact is that Muslims are victims of terrorism in more ways than one, including when their countries are attacked and destroyed by western interventions (Iraq, Libya and Syria); when they fall victim to revengeful, misguided violence (nearly one third of Nice, France attack victims were Muslims); and when they are wholly victimized and stereotyped by western media as the source of terror.

This sad, vicious cycle keeps on occurring every single day and innocent Muslims are paying the highest price for it. It is no surprise then that many American Muslims were disheartened by Bill Clinton's disingenuous "counter offer" for Muslims to stay in "his" country.

But the danger in Clinton's discourse goes beyond Muslims, into the kind of intellectual tyranny that was also espoused by George W. Bush after September 11 2001. "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists," he had said.

Both Clinton and Bush used the pronoun "us" in their ultimatums. But since "they" represent powerful, rich families who command massive, unrelenting war machines, not only Muslims but everyone else should be very concerned.

In a broader sense, these ultimatums do not only target Muslim Americans but any independent thinking non-conformist as well.

"In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service," wrote influential philosopher John Stuart Mill in "On Liberty."

America's political elites never cease referencing old script of intellectual giants that influenced their country but, in reality, they live by entirely different standards.

Clinton's statement at the DNC was, in fact, a call for conformity, along with an ominous subtext:

"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..."

And since the Democratic Convention had little room for dissent or nonconformists, no one had the chance to respond to Clinton's statement, right there and then. Nonetheless, this is my response:

Dear Bill Clinton,

Yes, I am a Muslim, but I don't love the America you stand for and represent, but an America that is both peaceful and inclusive.

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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