"Thank God I'm not an Arab":
Racism, pure and simple
By Michael Coren
Thank God I'm not an Arab. Let me say it again in case any of you didn't quite understand. Thank God I'm not an Arab. Offended, hurt, shocked? Are your politically correct sensibilities dented and bruised? Tough. Because you shouldn't be surprised at all. The fact is that in North America and most of the western world the Arab peoples are not treated at all fairly and seem to be the final example of where racism is permissible, even respectable.
It's hard not to notice this when we read the coverage of the latest violence in the Middle East. Whatever the details of why the situation occurred, the fact is that for every tragic death of an Israeli Jew there are at least 50 Arab corpses. The dead include children, teenagers and medics on their way to help the victims. The Palestinians do have guns but generally throw rocks. The Israelis respond with sharp-nosed, live ammunition. Over and over again. I have seen many violent and terrifying demonstrations in my time, but outside of dictatorships I have never seen them treated in such a manner. And such dictatorships invariably receive the world's scorn and a whole bunch of sanctions. I do not say Israel initiated the violence in the area, but I am deeply shocked at how it has all been handled. Goodness me, truth cries out to be heard. If the demonstrators were as well armed as their opponents say, they would not be dropping like flies and would have inflicted more damage on the enemy. Beyond this, however, is the way the situation is being treated in, for example, good old Canada. A journalist in one of our national newspapers actually seemed to allege that Arabs are mentally ill. He was a doctor, he said, and it seemed to him that, psychologically speaking, appeasing such people only encouraged them. The implication was clear. This is a simple, foolish race.
There you have it. The doc has spoken. Take 3,000 rounds of Uzi 9mm machinegun bullets three times a day, a dozen helicopter gunship missiles before bed and you'll be as right as rain by the morning. Not as bad as the man who wrote to me that, "Arabs are animals and only want to die for their ridiculous cause. Good, the more the better." He went on to explain why I was "an example of why Jews should never inter-marry." You see, while three of my grandparents were Jewish, my maternal grandmother was a convert.
Jewish enough for the Nazis but not Jewish enough for some Jews. I don't blame this man as much as the culture that shaped him. Arabs are bad guys, Arabs are terrorists, Arabs are cowardly and stupid, Arabs are greedy and primitive, Arabs are lustful and cruel, Arabs are not like us. Not like us. Movies, TV shows, books, newspapers - seldom has a people been so objectified and reviled. Most men and women die as individuals, with families and faces and feelings. Arabs, we're to believe, only die in mobs, with the terrible grieving of their loved ones mocked by comfortable people who watch the weeping on their televisions just before they turn to the latest episode of Friends or The West Wing. We read the daily coverage of Israel and Palestine by allegedly clever and objective columnists in the allegedly serious newspapers in Canada and the United States. People who frequently demand justice, understanding and human rights. It's suddenly as if they are speaking of a war against three-headed aliens from a distant planet. Every action by an Arab is the result of hatred and ignorance, every gesture by an Israeli is a considered reaction to thoughtless venom.
I support Israel's right to exist. I'm a Zionist who believes in the Law of Return and the eternal safety and security of the Jewish state. But not at any cost. I sometimes wonder what I would be doing now if I had been raised on the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, and how much influence I would have in the media.
I think I know the answer. I also wonder if frustration would turn to anger and anger would turn to disaster. I pray not. Again, thank God I'm not an Arab.
*Michael Coren is a Toronto-based writer and broadcaster Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com.
*October 14, 2000, Sun Media
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