Monday, June 12, 2006  

Trust is...

a two way street. You hear time and time again, sometimes whispered, sometimes stated outright: I am not sure if we can trust those people. And those people are? Arab Americans.

Hey, I thought you liked Paul Anka, Danny Thomas, Marlo Thomas, Helen Thomas, Wendy Malick, Tony Shaloub. Some of you voted for Ralph Nader and some of you voted for Daryl Issa (come on, don't be shy...)

And news flash for you, being Arab-American is no picnic these days, even though there has been an Arab American presence in the US for over 100 years. How do you think Khalil Gibran Khalil got so popular?

And so today, this from the NYT:
Both Arab-American community leaders and law enforcement officials interviewed in the study said that cooperation between both groups had suffered from a lack of trust.

"It underscores the importance of community policing, of engaging the Arab and Muslim community in a constructive way and bringing them in to be partners," said Farhana Khera, the executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national nonprofit organization of lawyers.

While Muslims represent a spectrum of ethnic and national backgrounds, the study focused on Arab-Americans in order to understand the experience of one group more deeply, said Nicole Henderson, the lead author of the report. An estimated two-thirds of Arab-Americans are Christian.

Arab-Americans reported an increasing sense of victimization, suspicion of government and law enforcement, and concerns about protecting their civil liberties, according to the study, which was paid for by the National Institute of Justice, a research agency of the Justice Department.

A fear of surveillance ranked high among their concerns. During one focus group, a woman told the story of an encyclopedia salesman who came to her door and asked to use the bathroom. She worried that he might have been an agent trying to plant a listening device in her home.

Read the rest here and then get thee to the Arab American Museum which you can read about here

From Naomi Shihab Nye: An Arab-American poet:
Two Countries

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

Naomi Shihab Nye

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