Our Chance To Show Solidarity with the American People

Citizens of the Arab world feel an urgency to find solidarity with the American people and the people living along the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the destruction left by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Nature’s cruelty toward mankind calls them to unite in order to minimize the dangers. This is required of all people everywhere when they are subjected to heat waves, or cold fronts, or earthquakes.

This statement may not seem political, but it inevitably enters the world of politics when we take a look at some comments from the Arab world that seem to curse the ordinary American citizen; which look at the destruction faced there and complain that Americans don’t care enough about disasters afflicting those in India, Pakistan and China. We are seeing a predisposed hostility toward the American people, resorting to political attacks in nonpolitical circumstances. This frivolity and dry humanity calls to mind the slogan “Death to America” raised in the protests in Iran – a slogan calling for an eternal struggle between groups of people rather than between governments. In other places, it aims to raise slogans like “Death to Arabs,” or “Death to Muslims,” or “Death to Buddhists,” or the like.

Millions of Americans were forced to leave their homes before they were destroyed or washed out. Massive damages are approaching around $150 billion as a result of Hurricane Harvey, and analysts expect a higher number when Irma hits. All this, even though these areas are operating under modern drainage systems and infrastructure designed especially for areas subject to hurricanes. Here we must offer praise for American solidarity – in both the government and the people – not at all unusual in times of distress.

The world is also called to solidarity with the United States, whose government and institutions do not skimp in their provision of economic and developmental aid to impoverished groups of people. And here we are missing the voices of solidarity from Bosnian, Herzegovinian, and Albanian voices in Kosovo, for which credit is chiefly due to the United States for preserving their existence in the genocidal war that followed the fall of Yugoslavia.

It is not necessary to send financial aid or anything like that, but to take a stand of solidarity with the ordinary American citizen, as belonging to a society that has accepted immigrants for so many years, and quickly turns them into leaders in science, literature, and politics. Even in our own day, when people and religious groups tend to be self-sufficient and close their geographical and spiritual doors in the face of others, we find the United States and its cultural mother, Europe, welcoming to those fleeing war. And even in the midst of discussions of cultural and economic burdens caused by immigrants, we find a majority defending their countries’ welcoming of immigrants, and keeping the far-right from harming them. The fact is that those complaining about Syrian refugees the most, for example, are by far those living in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, rather than those in Europe, Canada, or the United States.

America is not necessarily exemplified by its presidents, its administrations, or its shifting policies. Rather, it is an exceptionally diverse nation leading the world in mutual understanding and coexistence. If every nation-state had one soul, the United States would be many souls combining into a community soul. As for us Arabs, we have a share in this community soul, embodied in immigrants from the Arab world, contributing in the sciences, and literature and the arts. In America, we are in the presence of other people – the English, Dutch, Germans, Africans, Russians, Irish, French, Jews, Poles, and others – who make up the United States of America. From this viewpoint, we see the obligation to stand in solidarity with the American people during their ordeal, and we can express our solidarity in statements issued by our governments and civil institutions, even regional bodies such as the Arab League.

It is an opportunity to sympathize with a people who care about their own issues and less about what’s going on in the outside world. This they leave to the White House, and the Pentagon, to Congress, and to major universities with their think tanks. This time, let the American people know Arabs as brothers in humanity, outside the context of endless wars.

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