A Little More About Arab-Americans and Free Speech

You know, during the Israel/Gaza thing I really tried to stay out of it on social media and in print as much as I could and I probably didn’t do that great a job, but I did hold back, for whatever that’s worth. Feelings were running high and who wants to add fuel to the fire, etc. But I do feel the need to add one thing, given that hate crimes against Muslims have doubled in the past year.

I live in a very nice, clean, safe, happy area of Brooklyn called Bay Ridge and I would say between 40 and 60 percent of the people there are Arabs and it breaks my heart when jerks and cretins of whatever stripe, who cares, harass and threaten women in hijabs outside the Arab-American Association of New York. It is right down the street from my house. My neighborhood is filled to overflowing with kind, decent citizens who staff the comic book store and the movie theater and cook amazing food and go to church just like I do. Often—hell, frequently—they are more industrious and courteous than their white counterparts in the same establishment. So it sickens me utterly to see, as I definitely saw firsthand a few weeks ago at the height of the Israel/Gaza war, a bunch of guys get out of a van and start waving the Israeli flag in front of the AAANY during the annihilation of thousands of Gazan lives. Just to rub it in, apparently, in case anyone in the building had children or fathers or sisters they’d never see again.

Earlier this month, outside this same building—which, I would like to stress, is in the only neighborhood in Brooklyn where I can both afford an apartment big enough for two people and never worry about my wife getting attacked between it and the train—some shithead ran up and threw a Department of Sanitation trash can, which is huge and probably weighs 40 pounds at Linda Sarsour, the director of this organization, who wears a hijab, and said, allegedly, ”I’m gonna cut your head off and see how your fucking people feel about it!”

The odious Pamela Geller, who sued the City of New York and won the right to post hateful, ignorant excrescence about Muslims on the walls of the subway, has a new campaign coming to a train station near you. Geller has every right to say anything she wants to say. That doesn’t make the things she chooses to say any less offensive or vile. So I’m just going to post the link to a comedy documentary made by a bunch of Arab comedians and leave it at that. 

And look, if you’re a person who doesn’t live near any Muslims or talk to them or buy food from them and you have Important Opinions about How Arab Culture Is Destroying America, fine. I don’t really care. Good luck in your life. You’re going to be scared for a lot of it, and I hate that for you. But if you live in a place where there are a lot of people who are different from you and you see people who look like them far away doing things you don’t like, when you see your neighbors at the grocery store just fucking be nice to them. Ask yourself, “if this were my wife and she came home crying because of the thing I’m about to say to her, would I want to punch me in the face?” And then if the answer is “yes,” maybe behave like a grownup human being and not a tiny little boy who doesn’t know the difference between brown people.

That’s it.