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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/18/15

A letter to Lindsey Graham about Mohammad

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Message Amer Zahr
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Reprinted from The Civil Arab

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Dear Senator Graham,

What happened yesterday in Chattanooga was tragic. Everyone should agree about that. It should be assumed.

The alleged shooter, Mohammad Abdulazeez, was a 24-year-old American of Arab descent. He came to this country with his family as a young child from Kuwait and became a naturalized citizen (like many of us). His friends and fellow community members reported being shocked by his actions yesterday. They didn't see it coming. He showed no warning signs. He wrote a blog (some are calling it a "manifesto"), where he basically gave some sermons on Islamic belief and basic principles. It was a little religious for my taste, but nothing overtly extreme. To this point, Abdulazeez has not been found to have any connections to any organized group like ISIS or otherwise.

Dylann Roof is the 21-year-old American of white descent who murdered nine worshippers at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 18. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina. Some of his friends and fellow community members were surprised by his act (as you might imagine), but many were not shocked at all, recounting how Roof said he was planning an attack. He told numerous friends that he believed in segregation. He told police he wanted to start a race war. He told his victims that they had to die because black people were raping white women and taking over the country. And he wrote a blog too (and this one was a "manifesto"), where he advocated staunchly white supremacist ideals. Finally, he did openly latch onto a quite radical group, The Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization dedicated to the separation of the races, because, you know, it's holy: "Mixing the races is rebelliousness against God," so they say.

These are the facts as we know them, Senator Graham. You called Dylann Roof a "whacked-out kid." Now, since it seems that we have at least the same amount of evidence (or perhaps a lot more) of premeditation and evil in Charleston than we do in Chattanooga, I was hoping you could give Mohammad the same courtesy. I pray his name doesn't cause you to hesitate.

See, we Arab and Muslim Americans have a fairly tough time with acceptance in this country. You saw this firsthand when a man in Iowa approached you suggesting we ban Islam in America. By the way, thank you for telling him that you "couldn't disagree with him more," and for informing him that you were "not his candidate." Though it does scare me a little bit that I'm thanking you for simply saying that the practice of Islam should be legal in the United States. But thanks anyway. On another note, thanks for coming around on the Confederate Flag. After years of supporting it, you changed your opinion (and there's nothing wrong with that). It was the right thing to do.

I don't know if I'm really getting my point across, Senator Graham. It's hard for me to articulate it well. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we Arabs and Muslims watch the news a little differently than everyone else. We hear the media, politicians, and analysts label criminals who don't look or sound like us as "deranged, delusional, and disturbed." (Those are all synonyms of "whacked-out.") In fact, when a white pilot took 149 people along with him on a suicide crash into the French Alps, CNN talked to me for two weeks about "depression." And news outlets, law enforcement officials, and politicians (save a few journalists) didn't publicly call Roof's rampage "terrorism." They didn't call him a "lone wolf." When it came to Abdulazeez, on the other hand, the FBI said, "We will treat this as a terrorism investigation until it can be determined that it is not."

Now, I'm not advocating that we throw the moniker of "terrorism" on all white criminals as quickly as it is thrust upon us. I'm just asking that we get the "deranged-delusional-disturbed-depressed" treatment every now and then. We need this, not because Mohammad's crime wasn't horrific, and not because we shouldn't delve deeply to learn what motivated him, but because if we are really interested in equal treatment, then we need not only humanize the "good" Muslim Americans among us, but we must do it for the "bad" ones too.

So, Senator Graham, I beg you, please get on Fox News and let the world know that Mohammad was a whacked-out kid too. It's the right thing to do.


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Amer is an Arab-American stand-up comedian. Drawing on his experiences growing up as a child of Palestinian refugees, he finds the humor in culture, politics, history, and everyday life. Amer has also produced and headlined in 2 of his own comedy tours, "1001 Laughs Comedy Tour" & "We're Not White!" Amer (more...)

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