Tuesday, 14 September 2010

"My life as a Middle-Eastern American", by Porochista Khakpour

I’ve never quite understood the American penchant for hyphenating their people: “Italian-Americans”, “Irish-Americans” and the like.  We never did it in Australia.  The closest we came, when I was a kid, was to call immigrants “New Australians”, a phrase that in time became non-PC, though I’m not quite sure why; surely it’s just a bit cute.
Now the hyphen-American comes back to bite Ms Porochista Khakpour (see below).  She says it , the hyphen, nowadays no longer “gracefully declares” her two worlds; rather, it “feels like a dagger”.
It’s not her fault that America has this strange predilection to hyphenate its people; but nor should she blame fellow Americans, be-hyphenated or not, for having concern about those from the middle east. After all, just have a look at the countries there, from Egypt to Turkey, from Iran to Yemen, nary a one well disposed to the Great Satan.** And if not all of the Middle-eastern-Americans are ill-disposed to the US or wish it harm – as surely they don’t -- how does one tell?  
And now, Ms Khakpour....
"I remember on that day, 9/11 leaving the foreground of my mind for the first time. I remember looking around that room and feeling, in spite of myself, a sense of optimism about the future. I remember feeling a part of something. I remember feeling thrilled at the official introduction of the hyphen that would from now on gracefully declare and demarcate my two worlds: Middle-Eastern-American. The same hyphen that today feels like a dagger that coarsely divides had once, not too long ago at all, been a symbol of a most hallowed bond."
[Last para of “My life as a Middle-Eastern American”]
Earlier in her piece Ms Khakpour quotes W. Bush saying, on 9/18, “Islam is peace”.  She asks:
“Did that assurance mean more to white Americans coming from someone who looked like them?”. 
My answer: “absolutely not”.  It was this statement that got me, and in time tens of thousands of others, or all colours and faiths, to look closely at the religion that W had called a “religion of peace”.  I can still recall thinking “if that’s the case, and yet Muslims have brought down the World Trade Center, then what’s it all about?  I’d better read about it”.  And so did.  And remember clearly the feeling of hair crawling on the back of my neck when I first finished the Koran, thinking “if that’s what we’re dealing with, we’ve really got a problem”.  It was that, Ms Khakpour, nothing to do with the colour of the person asserting the allegedly peacable nature of Islam, that did it for me.  Not the colour of Mr Obama that makes me suspicious of his pabulum on Islam.
BTW: Ms Khakpour is a bit of a babe, and that always helps.  Do you really think that this beauty is going to have daggers hurled at her, or contumely heaped on her comely body, hyphenated or not?
**What’s that, you say?  You ask “what about Turkey and Saudi Arabia, aren’t they allies?”  You’re kidding, right?  Turkey wouldn’t let the US overfly its territory in the second war in Iraq.  Saudi smiles, while it slides the knife in the back: its Wahabis funding terrorism and subversion of the US through its universities and mosques.  With “friends” like those…. as the saying goes.
My life as a Middle-Eastern American Porochista Khakpour, New York Times, 12 Sep 10