Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I don't know who is more pathetic...

...The New York Times editorial board or Fatina Abdrabboh, author of a recent column that appeared on the Gray Lady's op-ed page.

In the column, entitled Veiled Praise, Ms. Abdrabboh, a student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, recounts a recent episode at the gym where she works out in Cambridge. In her column, Ms. Abdrabboh writes that she felt "more self-conscious than usual" that day. She attributes this to the fact that she works out in her hijjab (head scarf). During her workout she writes how "[e]very television in the gym highlighted some aspect of America's conflict with the Muslim world: the war in Iraq, allegations that American soldiers had desecrated the Koran, prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay, President Bush urging support of the Patriot Act".

Ok. Let's stop right there. America's conflict with the Muslim world? Sorry, Ms. Abdrabboh, but it's the Muslim world that has the conflict with America. America has done more to help Muslims than any other government - including the governments of all the Muslim nations. Lebanon, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq. Americans died helping, or trying to help, all these countries stop the bloodshed within their own borders. To that list I would add Turkey's membership in NATO, and billions in military and foreign aid to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Don't even get me started on the Koran "abuse" incident. The whole thing was completely overblown and let's leave it at that. And what the heck has the Patriot Act got to do with anything?

Oh, one other small point: it was Muslims that attacked America on September 11, not the other way around.

Ms. Abdrabboh continues on with a case of the vapors a la Nancy Hopkins (the MIT biologist who was so offended by Lawrence Summers' suggestion that innate differences between the sexes might explain women's lack of achievement in the sciences). Ms. Abdrabboh writes that the "stares just intensified my alienation as an Arab Muslim in what is supposed to be my country". She says she was "not sure if the blood rushing to my head was caused by the elliptical trainer or by the news coverage." (An aside: that is just crappy writing. How the heck did she get into Harvard?)

She goes on to relate how she finished her session on the elliptical trainer and moved on to the treadmill, where, unbeknownst to her, she dropped her keys. Her workout is interrupted by none other than Al Gore, who had interrupted his own workout to pick up her keys and hand them to her. Ms. Abdrabboh's reaction?

"It was nothing more than a kind gesture, but at that moment Mr. Gore's act represented all that I yearned for — acceptance and acknowledgment.

There in front of me, he stood for a part of America that has not made itself well known to 10 million Arab and Muslim-Americans, many of whom are becoming increasingly withdrawn and reclusive because of the everyday hostility they feel."

I'm sorry but the nerve of some people never ceases to amaze me. Here is a young woman, studying at the one of premier universities in the world (which happens to be American), with a bright future ahead of her, and all she can do is resort to imagined victimization. Notice, she never says that anyone physically or verbally assaulted her. Just that she "felt" that people were staring at her. I don't know. Maybe she had toilet paper stuck to her shoe.

Personally, I think Ms. Abdrabboh feels guilty for being a citizen of the country that has been targeted by her co-religionists. Rather than speak out against their crimes, she turns herself into the victim to dampen her own guilt. If she didn't, she might have to accept the fact that she comes from a part of the world with a lot of bad people and accept the fact that she herself is not doing anything to change it.

Maybe if she and her 10 million (a figure that is exaggerated; I believe America's Arab-American population numbers around 7 million) fellow Arab-Americans wouldn't feel such hostility (if indeed it does exist - a big if) if they stood up and denounced terrorism instead of talking out of both sides of their mouths on the issue.

Or perhaps Americans are hostile to hyper-sensitive twerps that seem to live only to tell us what awful people we are, all the while enjoying the freedom and opportunity found only in our society. She's like a freeloader that shows up at your door, enters without knocking, goes straight for the fridge and grabs a beer - only to complain that you don't have any Heineken.

Plenty of other bloggers and columnists - notably Jonah Goldberg on National Review Online - have lampooned this garbage far better than I ever could. A simple Google search of "Fatina Abdrabboh" will yield plenty of results. Ankle Biting pundits exposes Ms. Abdrabboh's past efforts at claiming victimhood. It's quite a list. Hey, Fatina, if things are so bad in America, leave! I'm sure Canada or France would love to have you.

But, to return to the title of this piece, the fact that the New York Times printed this drivel on their op-ed page says as much about the Times as it does about Fatina Abdrabboh. I mean, this column might (and I stress might) have been worth printing if Al Gore and his Secret Service detail had rescued Ms. Abdrabboh from a pack of wilding skinheads.

But, all that happened is that this privileged twit dropped her keys during a fit of self-induced paranoia and anxiety, and a nice man picked them up and handed them to her. She then tries to turn this into some kind of metaphor for her own American experience. The whole episode is hardly worth a diary or blog entry, much less a spot on the Times' op-ed page.

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