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Weekly Diaspora: Fort Hood, pundits and immigration reform

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First it was immigrants from Mexico, now Muslims in the armed services. After the tragic shootings at Fort Hood, conservative pundits are verbally attacking Muslims and Arab-Americans, much like they have vilified the immigrant community. The complexities of Islamic faith are being glossed over and “Muslim Terrorist” is stamped upon any act of violence involving their community. As a result, nuanced voices are buried in favor of suspicion and violence.

Dr. Riad Z Abdelkarim loves and serves this country, but is lumped in with alleged and actual enemies of the state due to his faith. In an article for The Progressive, Abdelkarim writes about his sense of anger and betrayal over the Fort Hood massacre. He is angry that the perpetrator of such harm is an American and as a doctor. He feels betrayed because the killer practices Islam, which is a beautiful and inspiring faith to Dr. Abdelkarim. “The Fort Hood murders are a huge setback” to the progress that Arab-Americans and American Muslims have made to clear the “guilt by association” that has affected their communities since 9/11, writes Abdelkarim.

The Real News Network also thoughtfully examines the aftermath of Fort Hood. Host Riz Khan gives background on shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and explores the effects of the Fort Hood shooting. Kahn asks “If a Muslim commits a serious crime in America, is that crime seen as that much more deadly?”

The violent culture that many U.S. citizens attribute to Islam and Arab-Americans criminalizes everyday people. For example, a bit of Arabic script led to a frenzied media reaction when Texas border guards found “ski jacket with three unusual patches” in Hebbronville, Texas in 2005. The patches were irresponsibly described as “terrorist garb” by “right wing media,” according to the Texas Observer. “One [patch] featured a lion’s head, a parachute and Arabic script, another an airplane flying toward a tower and the words ‘Midnight Mission.’ The third patch read ‘Daiwa.’”

It all made for a “fine story,” as Melissa Del Bosque writes. But the results were not so dramatic. “Daiwa” is an ad for a “popular fishing company,” the Arabic is the symbol of a “defunct air brigade in Syria” that was in fact “anti-Islamist,” and the jacket more than likely bought at one of the “pulgas” (flea markets) located closer to the border. It is fortunate that the voices trying to connect Al Qaeda and Mexicans were not successful.

In RaceWire, Debiyani Kar reports on the Obama administration’s latest announcements that immigration reform would come in 2010. Kar cuts to the heart of the issue, reminding us that “it is time to pause and make the connection again between (im)migration and globalization.” If our nation is truly interested in addressing the roots of the problem, rather than passing sweeping reform every decade, we have to address this issue. Meanwhile, Kar also reminds us that migrants “are not waiting for legal reforms to take control of their economic futures,” and wield their own economic power.

A liberal activist who goes by the handle of “Robert Erickson” subverted an anti-immigration rally in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the Minnesota Independent reports. Erickson called for sealing up the borders and sending “these people back where they came from” while the crowd of 50-60 people cheered along. Then Erickson revealed that he was actually calling for the removal of European immigrants, who are “responsible for the most violent and heinous crimes in the history of the world!”

The fallout from Lou Dobbs’ severance with CNN continues. Dobbs was an integral part of the CNN news team since 1980. Roberto Lovato, reporting for The Nation, called Dobb’s abrupt departure the “fast and fiery demise of a media titan.” Lovato discusses Dobbs’ career arc and departure from CNN. He also underlines the scope of the immigrant movement and “the centrality of spirituality to social change.”

These are reminders we need when engaging struggle! Spirituality, love and laughter keep us refreshed and strong for those times we must engage injustice or oppression. And we can’t show a dinosaur like Dobbs the door without commentary from two of the most celebrated pundits on the circuit today, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Both comedians’ segments on Dobbs are featured at Talking Points Memo in an article by Ben Craw.

For some more humor, let’s return to The Nation. Alana Levinson comments on Saturday Night Live’s rendition of Lou Dobbs’ last live speech, in which a parodied Dobbs said he wouldn’t rest until all people have the opportunity to sell fruit on the roadside, “not just the Latinos.” When compared to rants about disease and criminal Mexicans, comedic responses to Dobbs’ departure are a positive contribution.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, The Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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