Uncle Sam is obviously a major oppressor in the world today. Some of his kin such as the Zionists influence him to commit social and political injustice against Muslims, Arabs and Africans, but we must strive to liberate both Uncle Sam and all his kin from this brand of oppression.
Recall when Prophet Muhammad advised his followers to help their brethren, be they the oppressed or the oppressors, they said that it made sense they should help one who was oppressed but they didn't figure out how they could help one who was the oppressor. The Prophet answered that they should help the oppressor by preventing him/her from oppressing others. In the current context, the Prophet's message suggests that we liberate both the oppressor and the oppressed--one from becoming the instrument and the other from becoming the victim of oppression.
Paulo Freire, the Brazilian philosopher of education and human development, articulated this very idea of liberation in the social/human science classic Pedagoy of the Oppressed (1970). Freire was concerned with human liberation from the oppressive conditions of life such as ignorance, prejudice, exploitation, and poverty. He argued that this liberation of humanity could result from education and conscientizacion (consciousness-raising).
Freire's idea of consciousness-raising now informs a gamut of social-promotional activist programs throughout the world. It is grounded in a profound faith in human ability to do the "right thing"--the belief that, once the God-gifted consciousness to distinguish between right and wrong is sparked, people can liberate themselves.
The key idea, then, is to help people help themselves. This concept also matches our divine calling on earth to enjoin good and forbid evil. In this present context, the calling as well as the challenge for us is to help Uncle Sam and all his kin to liberate themselves from becoming instruments or victims of injustice. Equally important is that we know the issues, the background, and the art of communicating with our brethren in humanity.
Uncle Sam inflicts many injustices on himself and others. The most crucial and dangerous one is his unconditional support for the Zionist project of occupation, repression, and gross injustice in Palestine. Palestinians are not the only victims of this project of injustice.
According to a professor of Middle East history, we must realize that until 1942 the government of the United States played a very minor role in supporting the Zionist movement and helping Zionists achieve their goals in Palestine. The Jewish Community in America before 1942 was bitterly divided over the issue of Zionism. Every time a delegation of Zionist Jews visited the President or the Secretary of State, a delegation of anti-Zionists or non-Zionists demanded an appointment. The government kept a hands-off attitude, not only because Palestine between the two World Wars was a British mandate, but also because the Jews of this country did not speak with a united voice.
Only when the news of the holocaust became public, and only, as a result, when the American Jewish community united behind the Zionist goals, did the U.S. government change from a position of neutrality to one of open and consistent support for the Zionists and subsequently for the state of Israel.
The reasons why the US Government supports Israel most of the time are generally well known: Zionist media propaganda, manipulation of the symbolism of anti-Semitism, exploitation of the holocaust, and the influence of lobbyists, campaign contributions and a large Jewish voting bloc.
But most important reason for the blind support of the Zionist project is the absence of an effective balancing or countervailing voice. Until recently, too few Arabs and Muslims had both the capacity and the will to argue the Palestinian cause as eloquently as the supporters of Israel make their case. With the exception of Edward Said and Hanan Ashrawi, the anti-Zionist Jews have been the most eloquent speakers on behalf of the Palestinian cause. However, the louder Zionist chorus has muted their voices.
Even now, Muslim and Arab-American voices aren't loud enough to wake up Uncle Sam into consciousness. Consider how ludicrously the American politicians speak to please the Zionist groups in to win their support. Even the U.S. president himself could not condemn the Israeli state sponsored killings of about 100 Palestinians but was very quick to "strongly condemn" a retaliatory Palestinian mob killing of two Israeli soldiers who were sent as a death squad in civil Palestinian camouflage.
This is just one example of a larger problem of Uncle Sam and his kin. While many groups speak for justice, and while many Americans deplore the government support for Israel, the groups that have gained the will and potential to awaken Uncle Sam and kin from this predicament are the Muslim/Arab Americans. Now that major Muslim-American organizations have committed to speaking in one voice, the journey of liberation will gain momentum.
(Mohammad Auwal is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.)
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