While the previous
Open Letters on LRC were addressed to a particular religious denomination,
I offer this one on the basis of ethnicity. Arab-Americans
need to hear Ron Paul’s message, because serious concerns about
the fate of US foreign policy and civil liberties captivate the
minds of Arab-American Muslims, as well as Arab-American
Christians, who actually comprise more than half of the community.
My Open Letter will therefore be inclusive in nature and address
It is interesting
to note that those who advocate this unifying approach have been
disparaged by the wedge-driving, divide-and-conquer neocons as "dhimmis"
or "Islamo-Christians" — or whatever today’s new vocabulary
is on the Word-a-Day calendar of the American
Enterprise Institute (a.k.a. the Supreme Soviet of Neoconservatism)
— for not accepting their erroneous worldview, in which Semitic
people (and by Semitic, I mean Semitic)
are mindless sectarian robots genetically programmed to kill each
other and incapable of peaceful co-existence.
I suppose this
letter will also cause some consternation for the likes of my fellow
Catholic, Deacon Robert
Spencer, who recently wrote two unflattering articles about
American Institute (AAI) Leadership conference, at which Ron
Paul was the only Republican candidate to speak — he dazzled the
crowd last month in Dearborn, Michigan, as I will discuss below.
I am pleased to report that Spencer did not directly attack Ron
Paul in his criticisms of the event, one
of which was published on the ever-beloved FrontPageMag.
Now, we most
certainly recognize the danger posed to all of us by the
fear-mongering approach to governing practiced by the current ruling
elite in DC, which is why we support our courageous "Champion
of the Constitution," Congressman Ron Paul. But I personally
make particular note of the predicament faced by Muslims in America.
Why? Well, my last name, Ajjan,
is Arabic — my ancestors came to the United States from Syria
nearly a century ago. The name means “mixer,” as in someone
who prepares dough or cement, and it bears no religious significance.
Thus, one can find Ajjan families with sons called George and Elias
(common Christian first names in the Middle East) as well as genealogies
full of Muslim names like Mohamed or Ali.
In that vein:
suppose, if we do not succeed in getting Ron Paul elected, that
some shady bureaucrats in Washington decide to advance their own
political objectives by casting a very wide net for "Islamofascists"
on American soil, i.e. every Muslim, for starters.
Will they bother to distinguish one Ajjan from another? Should
I trust the Federal Government to omit me from their list of terror
suspects to round up? After all, someone who has taken vacation
in Syria (a country,
which unlike Saudi Arabia, is classified as a "state sponsor
of terrorism"), and who writes for a website proudly identified
as "anti-state," must be a threat! Dare I argue
with the Blackwater-esque thugs they likely will send door-to-door
to impound me and others with the "wrong" last names?
(Note to self: prepare an "Open Letter to Arab-Americans
on Behalf of the 2nd Amendment" to educate the community on
provisions afforded by the US Constitution for dealing with such
No, we will
all suffer together. But aside from that unpleasant line of
thought, I am pleased to write this Open Letter, because one of
the most appealing and refreshing elements of Ron Paul’s campaign
is his insistence on the power of his message to unite Americans
of all races, colors, creeds, socio-economic backgrounds, occupations,
etc. Dr. Paul campaigns in a non-discriminatory manner almost
to a fault. As cited by Thomas Woods in his Open
Letter to the Catholic Community, Ron Paul began his speech
at the AAI conference by bluntly stating that he would not be pandering,
and that he would address Arab-Americans just as he would any other
assembly of voters he might encounter on the campaign trail.
That is indeed worthy of admiration, but as Walter Block correctly
are a lot of people who view the election not from [the] general
perspective of the public good, but rather on the basis of their
own more narrow interests. Forget whether or not this is a good
thing; it is part of reality that we supporters of Ron need to
take into account."
I recently received an email from a die-hard Ron Paul supporter
that I met at the AAI conference. She had noticed the "Home
Schoolers for Ron Paul" link on www.ronpaul2008.com
and suggested that we petition the Ron Paul campaign to add a link
on their homepage entitled "Arab-Americans for Ron Paul."
I argued that this approach, if originating from the campaign itself,
would too closely resemble the divide-and-conquer tactics used by
all the other candidates. Regardless of one’s ethnic origin,
one could always be a "gun owner for Ron Paul" — that
is an inclusive demographic. But for Ron Paul to solicit supporters
based upon definitively exclusive subsets of the population would
contradict his philosophy. That is why Walter Block is spot-on
when he advocates that we as Ron Paul supporters must independently
reach out with more specific agendas.
But the non-pandering
approach favored by Ron Paul does not at all suggest that he lacks
acute awareness of Arab-Americans’ and Muslims’ specific concerns.
That is why he told the AAI assembly:
freedom message brings all of us together, whatever our religion
is, or whatever our beliefs are, and wherever we came from, because
freedom is not judgmental. It allows people to make their own
choices as long as they don’t use force to impose their will on
us. So this brings people together, and this is what has been
happening in this campaign. People from all walks of life are
his campaign as one that is:
standing up for our Constitution, and we stand for our Constitution
as it protects ALL Americans."
He closed by
describing what he called "the essence of what America is
don’t have rights because we belong to a group. We don’t have
rights because we’re women, or belong to an ethnic group, or a
religious group. We have rights because we are individuals and
we should be treated as individuals and we should never get special
benefits. But we should NEVER have punishments because we belong
to a particular group either."
A cynical individual
might not be impressed with mere words. But Ron Paul’s voting
record more than backs up his egalitarian principles, as he was
one of only 3 Republicans to vote "no" on the USA
PATRIOT Act. Many of its opponents are well acquainted
with Sections 213,
but perhaps not with Section
102, which is supposedly designed to protect the civil rights
of Muslims and Arab-Americans specifically. But as Gary
North has warned LRC readers, "When you see a high-falutin’
title like this, you can be certain of one thing: Its promoters
intend the opposite." In any case, Ron Paul voted
against the Patriot
Act because, in his words:
Act contains over 500 pages of detailed legalese, the full text
of which was neither read nor made available to Congress in a
reasonable time before it was voted on — which by itself should
have convinced members to vote against it. Many of the surveillance
powers authorized in the Act are not clearly defined and have
not yet been tested. When they are tested, court challenges are
sure to follow. It is precisely because we cannot predict how
the PATRIOT Act will be interpreted and used in future decades
that we should question it today."
what many people may not realize is that this law’s title is an
Orwellian acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.
I wonder if perhaps its backers would also approve of legislation
aimed at Maintaining Obsessive Hatred Against Muslim Extremist
Detainees, in which case they’d be voting for the MOHAMED Act.)
And don’t forget
Ron Paul’s absolute rejection of a national
ID card, or any other kind of government spying on its own citizens.
Those who shudder to think that one day their US passports will
have an embedded green crescent, or that their emails will be tagged
with the letter "M," owe it to themselves and their posterity
to vote for Ron Paul.
to his devotion to civil liberties, the dramatic foreign policy
changes brought about by a Ron Paul Presidency would also be welcomed
by the Arab-American community. Naturally, the US invasion
of Iraq — not to mention the possibility of war with 70 million
Iranians — has left a very bad taste in the mouth of Arab-Americans
and American Muslims. Ron Paul, of course, opposed this ill-fated
military boondoggle since before its inception, and makes it clear
that he would also strongly oppose a war with Iran. Again,
he told the AAI audience:
us to be so fearful and so intimidated from a country, whether
it’s Iraq or Iran, that they might attack us? How are they going
to attack us, even if they had a nuclear weapon? How or why would
they attack us? This whole thought that all of a sudden Iran is
of the day and that we have to orient ourselves and do everything
in attacking this country — that is not for me to defend that
country or their leadership, there’s a lot of bad people over
there, but my concern is making sure that we don’t have bad POLICY
in this country, that’s our responsibility."
platform to that of then-Governor George W. Bush when it comes to
foreign policy should also attract Arab-Americans, as Bush did
very well among that demographic in the 2000
presidential election. Additionally, the explicit blame
Ron Paul places on the neoconservatives will win him many fans —
as members of the community are well aware of the role that small
cadre played in setting this whole Iraq debacle in motion.
think, our current President, in the year 2000, ran on a program
of no nation building, a humble foreign policy, diplomacy and
talking to people. And yet what has happened? Exactly the opposite.
And now we’re engaged because of the advice of the neoconservatives
who have hijacked our foreign policy — that we as Americans are
expected that we are so good and so wonderful and so perfect that
we have the responsibility of forcing our way on other people,
even if it takes killing them to make them live like we do. I
think that’s an INSANE foreign policy."
Ron Paul cuts
right through the flowery rhetoric about spreading freedom and democracy,
and his words on that topic ring true to many in the Arab-American
community, who know from their own personal experience that a Jeffersonian
democracy does not spring up overnight anywhere in the world just
because we wish it to be so. Unlike the neoconservatives,
who claim to care deeply for peoples in Arab and Muslim lands, but
insult them by advocating one-size-fits-all regime change, Ron Paul
acknowledges that he is not at all an expert on foreign cultures
and political attitudes. When I told him about my own trip
to Baghdad in the aftermath of the US invasion, and my observation
of the adverse impact that a military occupation had on the Iraqis’
collective dignity, he humbly inquired, "Isn’t that really
important to people over there?" When I validated his supposition,
he added, "well, just think how we’d feel if China invaded
us…" A Ron Paul foreign policy would be based upon
common sense, and focused on the only thing we possess sufficient
and trustworthy knowledge to determine: what is good for the
American people themselves.
in Ron Paul should also closely consider the hands-off approach
to Israel that he advocates. At first glance, those against
US military aid to Israel, which includes most in the Arab-American
community, would be delighted. But Ron Paul’s policy is also
a double-edged sword, as Walter
Block explained in his Open Letter to the Jewish Community:
are numerous cases where the U.S. has obviously handcuffed the
Israelis, not to the benefit of the latter…"
Does this mean
that one should equate Ron Paul’s non-interventionist policy with
turning loose a pit bull? I offer a resounding NO. A
dramatic change in the client-state relationship between the US
and Israel would radically alter internal Israeli politics and foreign
policy. Knowing that special interests would no longer dictate
their country’s destiny, the silent majority of Israelis wishing
to terminate the conflict definitively on the basis of land-for-peace
would be emboldened. Contrarily, the bellicose elements of
Israeli society, without the US Armed Forces at their beck and call,
would be cast to the political margins. No wonder a Meetup group
for Ron Paul has sprung
up in Israel itself!
Is this to
suggest that America would isolate itself from the Middle East?
Not at all. Ron Paul told the AAI crowd:
do not have to be isolationists. That’s a false charge when they
say, ‘oh, isolationism — we want to withdraw’. And I don’t want
to, as a matter of fact I don’t like protectionism, I like trade,
I like low tariffs — tariffs are taxes. We want to trade with
the world and talk with the world."
During a question-answer
section, he was further pressed by those who fear that America would
be totally diplomatically withdrawn, sparked by Ron Paul’s criticism
of the UN, an institution that many Arab-Americans view favorably.
Dr. Paul wisely explained that his concerns were not based upon
a desire to ignore the views of others, but rather a belief that
America need not abdicate its sovereignty to the UN in order to
that mean that we want to be isolationists and not talk to people?
No, it’s actually the opposite. It’s just that we don’t want to
force our way on people. In Washington, too often we only have
only 2 choices: we either bomb people and tell them they’ll do
as we tell them, or we have to subsidize them and give them all
the foreign aid they want. I would say that there’s a third option,
and that is to talk to people, trade with people, be friends with
people — try to influence the world through involuntary means,
set good examples."
So let it
never be said that Ron Paul is ambivalent about peace in
the Middle East. He made it clear when addressing our
group that he would be happy to invite other nations, such as Israel
and her Arab neighbors, to use the United States as neutral territory
where they could talk through their differences, with the caveat
that the United States not mandate and subsidize the outcome.
That would be a foreign policy in which we could all take pride.
Ron Paul’s views fascinated a staffer of the Egyptian embassy who
observed the conference, even after I reminded him that "no
more foreign aid" cuts both ways — Egypt, too, would lose its
annual 10-figure stipend.
I am reminded of a famous and beloved Arabic slogan:
lilah, wa al-watan liljamia
is for God, the nation is for everyone"
The idea expressed
therein is certainly not unique to Arabic culture, but the underlying
concept has inspired many leaders and statesmen throughout the centuries.
That includes a group of revolutionary late-18th-century former
Englishmen, who expressed it as such: "Congress shall
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof."
I was reminded
of the connection two years ago, at the Arab American Institute’s
annual banquet, called the Kahlil
Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards, at which Mustapha
Akkad received a posthumous honor. Akkad, who perished
alongside his daughter in a terrorist bombing in 2005, was a Syrian-American
film director who created the Halloween
horror movies, in addition to The
Message, an acclaimed film about the prophet
Mohamed. When Akkad’s son Malek accepted the award on
behalf of his late father, he told the audience that his father
had felt more free to practice Islam in the United States than he
had ever felt anywhere in the Muslim world.
who believes that America must stand for the free practice of religion,
be he Muslim, Christian, Jewish, etc., knows that the 1st Amendment
and the Bill of Rights must be defended vigorously and unequivocally.
Only one candidate for President has spent his entire career as
a citizen-statesman doing exactly that: Dr. Ron Paul.