8.22.2007

An Arab School? Must Be One of Dem Crazy Jihadi Places!


Former Brooklyn High School of the Arts is becoming a high school that focuses on the teaching of the Arab language and of Arab culture. But of course with this comes "controversy!" Why controversy? Well because in the same phrase as "culture" and "school" comes "Arab!"

Oh hold on to your pants white folks! They'll be jihadis running rampant in New York city and in our public schools!! Oh sweet Jesus! Imagine it! These Arab and non-Arab children actually learning about another (or their own) culture! And learning another language besides English! Another language besides English! Oh the humanity!

But seriously. What's important to note here about this whole hoopla is the fact that for some reason when these right wing whackos and racists hear the word "Arab" they have to set up an organization titled the "Stop the Madrassa Coalition" when this school isn't even a religious school. It's a secular public school. They somehow stupidly assume that Arab=Muslim when the fact is that there are many different Islamic beliefs; Sufi, Whabi, Sunni, Shia, etc. and Arabs of different religions; Christian, Islamic, Catholic, etc. So for some reason they just automatically assume that Arab=Muslim when in fact it really doesn't. Hell Muslim doesn't even need to equal Arab since the majority of the world's Muslims are Asian. Yet for most people Asian doesn't equal Muslim (but anyways).

This is yet another example of white supremacy and institutionalized racism embedded within our society. In a society that is awash in white "culture" and white images and English it would be nice for an Arab family to have their child learn about their own culture and their own language and to get away from the imposing presence of whiteness which essentially destroys all semblance of culture in a non-white family within two to three generations.

I found out about this while watching Al Jazeera English on You Tube. One thing I found interesting was something Steven Emerson, an opponent of the school, said. In the report he says. "Oh I think it's possible to teach Arab culture without teaching terrorism. I think that you have to be careful because history is always shaded by political views. I don't think one is synonomous with the other but it requires careful delineation."

Now the knee jerk reaction of this white male is to think that if there is an Arab school (not an Islamic school mind you) that it might be possible to teach Arab culture without teaching "terrorism" but that you have to be careful because somehow "terrorism" is embedded within the gene pool of Arab culture.

Not only is this wholly ignorant to the intricacies of Arab history and contemporary Arab culture but it gives us an opportunity to view what the other side really thinks about Arabs, Arab Americans, and the Middle East.

Image From:
Alkabi 1970

3 comments:

Violette said...

This story made me think of a Newsweek article from last year that stated:

"Five years after Arab terrorists attacked the United States, only 33 FBI agents have even a limited proficiency in Arabic, and none of them work in the sections of the bureau that coordinate investigations of international terrorism, according to new FBI statistics.

Counting agents who know only a handful of Arabic words -- including those who scored zero on a standard proficiency test -- just 1 percent of the FBI's 12,000 agents have any familiarity with the language, the statistics show.

--Newsweek October 11, 2006"

Giving children an understanding of Arabic language and culture doesn't instantly create terrorists. What it can do is help the United States in terms of foreign relations and national security. This is an opportunity to create future diplomats and security agents who actually have a clue what's going on in the world. Those protestors are idiots, because a kid from that school could grow up and help prevent a major terrorist attack.

Ross said...

Americans don't want to learn any other language. What can you say about a nation that does not read books!

Rachel's Tavern said...

You know it is interesting to parallel the reaction to this school with the reaction to this charter school which will focus on Hebrew language.

The debate for the first one ends up being a discussion of terrorism, and the second one ends up being a discussion about church state issues.