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America the Beautiful!

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

ASK ANYONE from this region of the world what country they admire the most, and until recently the answer from most lips and without much thought or hesitation would be America! While other countries may have held their unique charm, America had it all.

This admiration has been borne from a multitude of reasons. To some, America has still managed to retain the last vestiges of a brave new world.

Pioneers in modern science, medicine and technology, America has indeed surged ahead impressively in such fields. The world over has benefited from some of the American innovations we all seem to take for granted in our daily lives.

Others looked upon America as the land of opportunity, an old, tired yet true cliché in their reasoning. Where else would a Chinese rice field worker hope to break away from the drudgery and helplessness of his existence and attain success by the sweat of his brows? Or an Indian laborer hope to divest himself of the caste system and harbor dreams of educating his children in college? Or an Arab immigrant dream of owning and operating a business independent of iqamas, bureaucracies or background?

Or even a Filipino, economically victimized by the fat cat politicians at home who seemed to get richer as his own buying power shriveled, hope of owning a home?

And then there were others who chose America as an educational venue. A learning environment for their children, unhampered by caste or prejudice. An environment which allowed their children to learn beyond books, a way of life that in its simplicity looked for solutions to problems rather than the causes. And while some countries in Europe did offer similar programs, nowhere was matched the magnitude of what America had to offer.

And still some others had admiration for the American people themselves. A nation forged out of a melting pot of cultures, races, and religions that has produced among the friendliest of people on Earth. A people generally considered honest and fair, willing to stamp out injustice or help at a moment’s notice.

But all admiration has slowly receded over the past year. With the election of a new president in America, this part of the world looked upon him to finally exercise some of that fairness and justice to the Palestinians, a people long lost of hope. He chose to do otherwise, a gross political miscalculation that only resulted in increased tension and violence.

Scores of innocent lives were lost daily, a tragedy that touched and befell countless families. Sustained over a considerable period of time, this level of Israeli violence has eroded much of that admiration. Following the events of Sept. 11, the sympathetic sentiments and the outrage here against the terrorist attacks have been grudgingly tempered by the hostile reactions of some Americans against people from this part of the world.

As the sole superpower in today’s world, America has a great responsibility and burden far beyond its national borders. What America does and what policies it adopts do not only affect the 300 million within its borders, but also touches many others in different parts of the world. Their pleas and cries for fairness must not be ignored.

The language of terrorism is only understood by a people devoid of hope and of justice. Those who are alien to the comforts of daily life, or of a foreseeable future of peaceful existence. Such people with nothing to lose are usually those drawn to the manipulative messages of terrorists.

Yes indeed. America must re-examine itself and hold on to all that has made it to what people admire. By adopting the favorite child‚ syndrome and turning a deaf ear to all the other siblings, this mother of the world has encouraged bickering within the family of nations. And it is this bickering that may one day be the end of humanity, as we know it.


Note: Since the writing of my last column ‘Pin the Tail’, a statement has appeared on the CNN website. It states that the footage of the Palestinian children celebrating on Sept. 11 was indeed genuine, taken from a Reuters television film crew. — Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Copyright © 2001 ArabNews All Rights Reserved.

-- Swissrose (, September 29, 2001

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