On Anderson’s radical “patriotism”

The misuse of American ideals is certainly as inexcusable as the misuse of religion.

by Arij Mikati, Guest Columnist

While reading the amusing article âÄúDown with AmericaâÄù, by Ross Anderson, I found that I took issue with almost every word written. It seems that Ross Anderson is suffering from an unfortunate confusion: that of not knowing the difference between a religion and a culture. Glossing over the fact that Ross seemed to assume that an East African man undoubtedly must be Muslim, and must be a chauvinist pig because he failed to say âÄúthank youâÄù to a barista, Ross seems to have forgotten several facts about the (to use his own words) âÄúcrusty, diminutive, East African MuslimsâÄù. The author claims that immigration patterns have brought on a re-emergence of gender and racial discrimination. The author fails to understand that, in the case of East Africans in particular, many are not just immigrants. The majority of are refugees from a country torn apart by war. It is likely that many in this population have never had access to a proper education, established housing, or even a steady food supply. It would be a stretch to assume that more than a few of these refugees were privileged enough to grow up being able to read, write, or understand what Islam (or whatever faith they so choose to practice) truly means. For example, Islam was one of the first religions to give women the right to own property and businesses. This refugee status may also explain the reason Ross believes that East African Muslims ignore white or non-Muslim populations. Many have not yet been given the opportunity to attain fluency in English, and are more comfortable being around people they can speak easily with. This phenomenon is commonplace around the world. Mexican immigrants to the United States as well as American immigrants to Ireland flock to areas where their native language is both spoken and understood. I will attempt to be brief on the blatant ignorance of suggesting that women that wear the burka (or as Mr. Anderson would rather affectionately refer to them, âÄúbeekeeper suitsâÄù) have it forced upon them. Any decent human being will know that, excluding a very small, misinformed minority, women choose to wear the hijab or burka in the religion of Islam. Frankly, I find RossâÄôs anti-burka comments to be just as chauvinistic and anti-American as some of his descriptions of East African Muslim men in our community. Women should have the right to choose to wear whatever they want, whether it is a halter top or a burka. Both make strong feminist statements. I was shocked to learn of the apparent âÄútime-honored American traditionâÄù of Americanizing minority cultures. As a political science major, I was under the impression that America is a melting pot, rather than a pot of colorless baby food mashed together to exclude diversity. To all those Americans who claim they have never seen an educated, white, middle class man mistreat a barista, or forget to say thank you, or a college male treating the women in his life as nothing but mere objects, or a columnist so blind to reality he is unable to see his own chauvinism and anti- Americanism, in his words: stop this charade. Down with America (the sexist parts) indeed. Perhaps chauvinism is more ingrained in our American traditions than we’d like to think, but all hope is not lost. LetâÄôs all take a look at our actions, words, and columns to remove sexism and bigotry from all angles of our rich tapestry of American culture and create a community that we can all be proud to call our own. Arij Mikati University undergraduate student Please send comments to [email protected].