We at Dearborn Underground send our warmest congratulations to all of Dearborn’s and Detroit’s Iraqis on the recent dispatch of Saddam Hussein.
According to some recent press accounts, there was some vandalism along Warren Avenue in Detroit last week, probably related to the street celebrations by some Iraqi Shias:
“Sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, someone vandalized at least nine businesses and three mosques, all but one Shi'ite, according to Ali Zwen, manager of the Kufa Cultural Forum, a mosque at Warren and Archdale that sustained $4,000 in damage.
“Detroit police have not made an arrest for the vandalism that occurred between Greenfield and a few blocks west of the Southfield Freeway. Most of the area's businesses with Arabic script on their signs were undamaged.
“Many of the spared businesses are owned by Iraqi-American Christians, Lebanese Americans and others with Middle Eastern roots. The evidence is largely circumstantial that Shi'ites were targeted, but some of the victims say it is too coincidental.”
Immediately, Dearborn’s own CAIR spokesman, Dawud Walid, commenced a shuttle diplomacy tour up and down Warren, meeting with Sunni and Shi’ite leaders to urge unity and calm. A follow-up report next day in the Detroit Free Press said,
“As Iraqi-American Shi'ites seethed over the trashing of several of their businesses and mosques in Detroit over the weekend, leaders in the Shi'ite and Sunni sects of Islam worked Tuesday to try to defuse animosity between the two sides that has existed for years but was amplified with the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in December.”
It seems elementary enough. Dearborn is home to many Iraqis, and some of the Sunni Iraqis were upset enough about the Shi’ite celebration of Saddam’s hanging that a tiny group made some threats and committed some vandalism. Though I harbor no sympathy for any of the late dictator’s supporters, (in fact, Mrs. Clancy and I were eyewitness participants in some of the local celebrations), I understand the emotions of seeing one’s enemies getting the upper hand. For instance, last November Mrs. Clancy had to intervene forcefully to keep me from breaking out the windows of the nearest Starbuck’s, an institution I identify closely with the politics of Nancy Pelosi. Regardless, the situation between the Sunnis and Shia never escalated beyond vandalism, and no one was injured.
But where CAIR and the usual Muslim spokesmen are concerned, even Muslim-on-Muslim violence is best explained as persecution of Arabs by non-Muslims. Dawud Walid used the press attention over this vandalism to repeat his unending demands for government investigations and hate-crime prosecutions.
"’We're going to call on the federal authorities to investigate this because this is pure hate to attack a house of worship,’ Walid said. ‘Our community has been under siege since 9/11.’”
Walid has a capacity for non sequiturs that a Wellesley co-ed would kill for. That’s what enables him to connect up what were almost certainly acts of Sunni vandalism of a Shi’ite mosque as but one more example of the “siege” against the Arab community by America’s non-Muslims. In his view, even vandalism should be a federal case. “’No matter where the road leads, there should be prosecution,’ he said.” No matter where? Isn’t this how Mike Nifong got into so much trouble?
Similarly, Osama Siblani, the publisher of the Arab-American News, was quoted as saying, “I don't believe it's the Arab community that has done this.” The article doesn’t say why he doesn’t believe it, nor whom he believes really did do it, if not other Muslims.
Imad Hamad, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's regional office, also wondered how the vandalism could be an example of Muslim-on-Muslim vandalism, when “we’ve never witnessed a retaliation” in Detroit’s Middle East community before. I’m not sure if that statement is completely accurate, but then again, there have been so damned few executions of Middle Eastern dictators it’s hard to make a comparison. Maybe we can hang al Sadr and give the Sunnis a chance to pass out some candy.
I don’t think it really matters to Hamad or Walid who broke those windows last week. Whether it was intra-Muslim retaliation or not, they aren’t going to let it shake their focus on the big picture, which is that Arab Muslims are “under siege” and victims of daily persecution by—me!, that is, any non-Muslim, non-Arab American. That's right, we're all potential persecutors these days! What else would possess Hamad to say something as ludicrous as, “’During a time like this, people are likely to target Iraqi Americans, who should report all threats to police.’”
The viciousness of a statement like that is beyond telling, though its lack of logic is self-evident enough.
By way of targeting Iraqi Americans in response to Saddam's execution, Mrs. Clancy and I drove over to east Dearborn that night and stood around for a while amidst a throng of some very happy Arabs. Mrs. Clancy even took a few photos, but that was the extent of our aiming anything at Iraqi Americans, that, and our sincerest best wishes. If anyone reported us to the police for targeting Iraqi Americans, we weren’t aware of it, and there were certainly plenty of Detroit and Dearborn cops around, mostly directing traffic, and all wearing their relaxed, Tigers-won-the-pennant faces.
It isn’t that Hamad, Walid, and Siblani are always crying wolf just to get attention. It’s that the Muslim-as-victim scheme they require to give them something to be in charge of requires a scheme to create victimizers, too, even if the accused victimizers are innocent.
How prosaic and ineffective it feels to write, simply, that there is no “siege” against the Arab community in Dearborn, not since 9/11, nor ever. The very suggestion is an insult to every resident of the area, Arab, Muslim, or non-Muslim.
And this kind of inflammatory rhetoric isn't helping anybody.