I want to recommend to my readers a couple of pieces, linked below, by Rany Jazayerli. Who, you might ask, is he?
He writes about baseball in the US and blogs particularly about the Kansas City Royals. As the Royals have been a very bad baseball team for many years, but one which at its best was a World Series winner, it is not always rewarding to be a Royals fan. Maybe a bit like being a fan of a team like Dunfermline, who did achieve great victories in the past, but the mementoes are long faded.
In fact, from this side of the Atlantic, the only thing the Royals has going for it is that excellent writers like Rany, Rob Neyer and Joe Posnanski, are fans, and I get to read their heartfelt pleas for the ownership of the team to do something, indeed anything, right.
Rany, as well as being a baseball blogger and writer by night is a dermatologist by day.
Most importantly for the purposes of this post, he is a Muslim whose father came to the US from his Syrian homeland after the government there confiscated all of the family’s property.
Rany specialises in long posts – indeed, he can make me look like the epitome of brevity! However, he is a writer of the highest quality, and well worth reading, even if the topic seems not to be one of interest.
The first piece I commend to you is one he wrote on Presidential Election Day last month. In it he explains how the immigrant Muslim community in the US, which formerly were overwhelmingly Republican supporters, shifted in only a couple of elections, to the point where the community is almost entirely Democrat. Whilst the events of 9/11 loom large, the change in allegiance is more a result of political idiocy on the part of the Republicans than any backlash by the Muslims of America.
He starts as follows:-
“Almost before I knew that I was an American, and almost before I knew that I was a Muslim, I knew that I was a Republican. I knew this because my father told me so. My father finished his cardiology fellowship just weeks after I was born, and moved the family from Michigan, where we had relatives and a large Muslim community, to Wichita, Kansas.
Kansas, then as now, was a Republican state, and those political sensibilities suited my dad just fine. These were the 1970s, when the income tax rate on the highest earners was 70%, a rate that people of all political persuasions would agree today can only be described as confiscatory. My dad had just left behind Syria, where the government had literally confiscated his family’s wealth, and he would be damned if he was going to let the American government take more than two-thirds of his marginal income.
So a political party whose platform rested on tax cuts and placed small business owners on a pedestal – well, they didn’t have to ask my father twice. The early years in Wichita were the Jimmy Carter years, and while my parents admired Carter and what he accomplished with the Camp David accords – bringing the first measure of peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict – they were swept up by the Reagan Revolution.
“Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”
My parents had settled in America to get away from an authoritarian regime in their homeland, and here came a man running for President on the platform that the best way to govern was to leave the public alone. All my parents wanted was to be left alone, to work and raise their children and own a house with a finished basement and a white picket fence. My dad, who had just obtained his American citizenship in 1978, became a reliable supporter of the Republican Party, both with his ballot and occasionally with his checkbook. He wasn’t alone. Most immigrant Muslims to America – once they obtained their citizenship – joined the Reagan Revolution.”
You can read the rest of the piece here. As a recent lesson in how stupidly politicians can treat a group of people, it is hard to surpass.
The second piece is also not about baseball, though you should read his articles on that too. This, from 2010, tells the story of Abd el-Kader and his role in protecting Christians during the 1860 massacre of Damascus. His article was written to mark the 150th anniversary of the event.
As Rany writes:-
“I’ve been writing professionally for 15 years, and particularly since 9/11 I have tried, when circumstances allow, to make this an underlying theme in my work: that Muslims and Christians can live together, that there is more that unites us than divides us, that it is only the extremists on both sides who want to see a Clash of Civilizations, and not co-existence, rule the day.
Just know that greater men have tread this way before. My efforts to do so are a speck of dust on top of a mighty mountain of tolerance my ancestors built in 1860. I am honored to play whatever miniscule part I can in echoing the message that Abd el-Kader spread so eloquently, and with such impact, 150 years ago today.”
Read this too, and you can find it here.
His theme that apparently “opposing” groups can live together in tolerance and friendship is one which has echoes throughout the world, and here in the West of Scotland, most definitely.
I hope you enjoy the pieces. I liked and was moved by them both and felt it was worthwhile passing them on.
Posted by Paul McConville