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Why do some people hate America so much?
Amer Zahr
by Amer Zahr
April 10th, 2015 (10 Comments)
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I'm noticing something going on in my country.  America is under attack.

This week, at the University of Michigan (my alma mater), Arab and Muslim (American) students protested against the showing of "American Sniper" on their campus.  Now, they weren't simply protesting the movie being screened on campus.  They were protesting against it specifically being shown by the Center for Campus Involvement, which describes itself as "a dynamic, student-focused department that serves undergraduate and graduate students campus wide through its programs and student organization support. Through meaningful involvement, the Center creates transformative experiences, a vibrant community, and lifelong memories for University of Michigan students."

Now, some might remember why these students would possibly be upset.  The film, while becoming the highest-grossing movie of 2014, prompted many moviegoers to tweet utterly hateful things about killing Arabs and Muslims right after seeing it.  Many in my community were quite shocked and scared by such outbursts.  The film dehumanized us in a quite cursory fashion, and it was celebrated for it.  "American Sniper" received six Oscar nominations this year.

After these Michigan students voiced their concerns, its showing was canceled.  Then, Jim Harbaugh, the new celebrity head football man at the University, and one of the top three or four high-profile college coaches in the nation, tweeted this:

Michigan Football will watch "American Sniper"! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!

Shortly thereafter, the Center for Campus Involvement "reconsidered" and chose to return to the original plan of showing the movie to create a "transformative experience" and "lifelong memory."

None of this was shocking.  It does not surprise me at all that Arab and Muslim (American) students who are concerned about a movie that sensationalizes a white American soldier that spends 134 minutes systemically murdering their people are eventually disregarded.  By the way, their worries that the film might foster a hostile environment are not completely unfounded.  In February of this year, three Arab Muslim (American) students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina were targeted and executed in their own home by a middle-aged white man (over a parking dispute).  A bunch of other middle-aged white men are now getting ready to kick off presidential campaigns touting their plans (of varying degrees) of how they will attack yet another Muslim nation, Iran.  These students are simply looking at their surroundings and asking for a little relief.

But what concerns me much more is how these (American) students were attacked by their fellow Americans for making their feelings known.  Tropes of "Get out of America, you terrorist sympathizers," "If you don't like it, then leave," and "Go back to your country" dominated online and social media. (Check out the comments here... or here.)

These types of reactions are, of course, nothing new.  But they do deserve pointing out for one simple reason.  Those who retort in this fashion don't only hate Arabs and Muslims (even the American kind).  They hate something much deeper.  They hate that we're even here.  They hate that we are Americans too, speaking up, exercising our American rights.  In short, they hate what America has become.

To these people, and to Coach Harbaugh it seems, any criticism of anything American, especially something as "American" as "American Sniper," and especially when undertaken by Arabs and Muslims (Americans), is an attack on America, their America.  They get upset when we complain about the celebration of "American Sniper," or when black Americans make a big stink about police murders of their people (even when there's a video), or when Latino Americans decry the dissolution of their families by backwards immigration policies.

But, luckily, their America is not my America.  My America is aware of its diversity.  My America is the one where the most vibrant (and most expensive) cities are the ones that have the highest rates of non-white people living, working, and innovating.  My America is the one where your chemistry, engineering, or math professor is more likely than not to have had parents who didn't speak English once upon a time.  My America is the one where your $40 dinner was more likely than not prepared by someone who was born somewhere way south of here. My America is the one where you are more likely than not to have your life saved in a hospital by someone who looks like Sanjay Gupta.  And my America is the one that elected the African (Muslim) guy with a weird name as its president. Twice.

So, I won't let these people to tell me that I hate my country.  Aren't they the ones who hate the America that is lively and thriving, precisely because so many of us don't look like them?  They are relics of an old time that was exclusive, intolerant, and prejudiced.  They were the faces of yesterday's America.  We are the faces of today's.

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* Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."

Comments (10)
  1. One thing the sniper was killing arabs Muslim and Christians alike. We are over there stealing their natural resources and we tell the people that our soldiers are Defriending are Freedom. The Zionists own the store, they want to steal more Arab land. Have you ever heard in the media about the 850 Christians that died in Gaza. You all know that Israel only kills Muslims

  2. This is my favorite of your posts. Excellent!!!

    I usually don’t like the lack of balance where you don’t call out your fellow Muslims and seem to lay the entire problems elsewhere. But this article had a sense of balance to it.

    Muslims seeking to establish full out Shariah in discrete pockets of the USA are asking, no they are begging, for trouble. Shariah is fundamentally antiquated, uncivilized, and un-American. It will never be tolerated here in America and that is where the battle line unfortunately could end up being drawn by both sides.

    • So where is that happening Jim? Which state? Which county? We had demonstrations in Australia a couple of weeks ago by a bunch of bigots who also couldn’t name any place in the country where anyone was trying to subject anyone to Sharia.

  3. Jay Cooperman ... April 10th, 2015 - 13:42

    While in sympathy with your criticism of the simplistic and biased treatment of Muslims in American Sniper, I can’t agree that censorship is the answer. Its unfortunate that the response from the university wasn’t to air the movie, and then to have a healthy discussion about it afterward. That could have been “transformative.”

  4. Halina Minadeo ... April 10th, 2015 - 13:43

    As a DP who has been enjoying the freedom and richness of the land which received me and my refugee family, I thank the native American aborigines whose land has been stolen by the white Europeans for sharing their country with me and every other non-native.

  5. Well written, courageous, forward looking and optimistic.

  6. My feelings, exactly.
    Thank you for your blogs; your thoughts and your courage. I especiay enjoy your humor. God bless!

  7. Make peace! that’s the solutio !!!!!

  8. Aaron Munoz-Seiler ... May 28th, 2015 - 09:17

    Amer,
    As an open-minded White/Mexican-American, I agree with and appreciate just about everything you stated. This country should stop generalizing Arabs and realize there are “Civil Arabs” all over the place. I haven’t personally seen the American Sniper movie, but this post makes me want to watch it now and see what all the hype is about and do more research to determine if Chris Kyle was more of a hero or murderer. Also, your statement about how a middle-aged white man executed 3 Arabs in their home- We seem to know it was about a parking dispute, but do we know if it had anything to do with their being Arab? I’m sure middle-aged white men kill people of all colors every single day in America, for a plethora of different reasons. Not to disregard what you’re saying, but what makes that instance stand out? I think that in America, people of all colors kill people of all colors. I also agree that there is a high level of ignorance and hostile generalization in America, however unfortunately I’m not sure how to solve that problem on a mass scale. I wish I did. To benefit not only Arabs, but people of all colors. I don’t wish death upon any color of people, but I don’t think the problem will be solved until 1. Extremists of all religions are terminated and 2. People with the highest ignorance levels are terminated. (I think number 2 will prove to be more people)


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