Saturday, February 3, 2007

From the Dept. of "Injustice Anywhere is Injustice Everywhere"

With a hat-tip to recent commenter Abdul-Halim V., allow me to point to What Makes American Muslims Unique, a brief note by a doctoral student on alt.muslim. There's not a ton of insight in the post, but it offers a jumping-off point if you're interested in beginning to understand the Islamic part of our population.

Like everything else in the U.S., this is a gem with thousands of facets. The title of the article grabbed my attention because of the growing population in my city of Muslims from the north African countries--particularly the Sudan and Somalia. Somalia is of particular international concern right now because of the turmoil raging there. US involvement has been under the radar for most Americans, but certainly not for Portland's Somali population. Add it to the list of things you're keeping track of. US officials claims that terrorist cells in Somalia, while also involved in fighting the provisional government, are also busy carrying out attacks beyond Africa. Hence the US airstrikes. The Ethiopian army (traditional adversary of Somalia) has, with the provisional Somali government's blessing, been driving the islamists south, toward Kenya, along with thousands of refugees. Naturally, Kenya doesn't want them. Guess who's helping them out? If you guess U.S. Marine ground forces, you win.

The Horn of Africa. Darfur, Ethiopia, Somalia. Quickly the world rolls toward fire.

The War in Somalia is part of a long pattern, longer even than US hegemony. It takes a back seat in our superficial and distracted news media, but for all our sakes we'd best keep our eyes on it. More than one commentator and the state department have identified Somalia as the next major terrorist stronghold (though everything Gartenstein-Ross opines should be taken with a grain of salt, IMO).

From my perspective, all this should be footnote to our own importance, however. Take some responsibility for getting to know the people around you in this tent. The alt.muslim article I linked to emphasizes that
The same bickering that exists elsewhere in the Muslim world is also certainly present in the US, which serves as a microcosm of the Muslim world. But America has historically offered people to forget past enmities and forge a new identity by becoming part of the melting pot. Similarly, American Muslims have a good chance of forming a truly dynamic American Muslim identity. All the component ethnic groups, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, who have made America their home have also brought their respective strengths, weaknesses, and prejudices. But in the US, one can find such sights like Shias and Sunnis praying side by side, Indians and Pakistanis getting along (most of the time), second generation desis overcoming the prejudices of their parents against African Americans, and so on.
Melting pot has been dropped in favor of 'salad bowl' by some. But the fact remains that we are in this Ark together.

Take a look around alt.muslim. I think you'll find good cause for hope there. Now find it in yourself.

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