Friday, February 18, 2011

US ‘gazelles’ need to think creatively

During the Bush Administration, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Justice Department started following a new paradigm of preventing terrorist attacks before they occurred, any Muslim who was ‘suspicious’ needed to be targeted and incarcerated. This practice has not ceased under the Obama administration.
“Predatory prosecution” is probably a better term to use for these political cases because the situation more closely resembles a community of gazelles munching on grass, who are then suddenly pounced upon and ripped apart by vicious tigers. American Muslims seem to have retreated more and more profoundly into the “gazelle” role. Nowadays American Muslims seem to find it normal to live in a state of nervous tension.

Gazelles are programmed to be gazelles. They have only one way of reacting to danger. The tigers chase them; they run away. After thousands of years, you will still find the gazelles running away from the tigers. You never see the gazelles band together to implement a more creative strategy to defeat the tigers.

However, humans are programmed to be flexible. While there is an appropriate time to run away from a tiger, humans have also learned how to call a village meeting to form a plan for getting rid of the tiger that is causing danger. Humans over time have become so good at hunting tigers that they made the tiger into an endangered species. So now, the humans are trying to save the tigers! Humans are not perfect, but they can change strategies when the situation calls for it.

The enlightened human being is neither a predator nor a victim. A godly person strives to perfect himself. Humans do not have to be stuck in one role doing the same thing over and over for millions of years like the mosquito. God gave us minds with which to view the entire landscape. We take into account both the minute details and what’s on the far horizon. We remember the past to make theories about the future. When humans can’t see the sky, we use airplanes or satellites to go above the clouds just to determine if Ramadan has started, or if a storm is coming. The human being has been created for nobility.

These humans that act like tigers are not really tigers just as the common people are not really gazelles. Those who are acting like tigers are covering up their weaknesses. They even manage to convince people that they are the innocent gazelles and that the others are the tigers.

We have to expect that they will do this, just as we expect a toddler to point to his brother and say, “He did it!” when their mother asks who spilled cereal all over the floor. Naturally the brother is going to come up with a defensive strategy. While that works fine for children up to a point, from the mother’s point of view, does she really care who spilled the cereal? Not really. The adult human being should be able to see beyond the “he said, she said” game and try to solve the problem. We have to have the intelligence to know what is a mistake and what is deliberate trouble making. We have to gear our reactions accordingly in order to get the best outcome.

American Muslims face a situation more serious than that of two kids that accidentally spilled cereal on the floor, and yet they even seem to believe on some level that there is a Mommy who is going to fix it all. Everybody already knows the Muslims are innocent. The problem we are facing is not spilled cereal but a scenario like Cain and Abel. There are people out there that don’t like to see others happy. When they see God smiling upon their neighbour, it makes them angry. They actually want to wreck innocent people’s lives. They want the opposition out of the way. It’s as simple as that. And it’s not even personal. They just want to score a political point – even when the point they are making is totally unrelated to reality.

People have to face the facts if they want to solve their problems. The American Muslim community needs to develop an “adult” response to Islamophobic politics and prosecutions in the USA. It is time to realise that the way Muslims have been approaching this problem has not been working. They need to analyse the entire picture, develop new strategies, and try some new approaches.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics, and Editor of World View News Service