Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How the New York Times unwittingly insulted Fouad Ajami

"Born an Arab in an Arab country and writing authoritatively about the Arab world, he was often identified—including, in a quotation in his obituary in the New York Times—as an Arab. That was not, however, his deepest and most cherished identity. He was, first and foremost, an American, and all the more so for having chosen to become one."  This colleague of Ajami said it best: being an Arab was an insult to the man, and for that he would preface every sentence he would utter by saying: "we Americans".  But this is the irony of the plight of somebody like Ajami in a land that holds deep-seated prejudice against Arabs and Muslims: that no matter how far you go in ingratiating yourself with the establishment and with Zionist media and academia, you will always be--to them--an Arab, first and foremost, albeit a useful...Arab.  This operates very much like anti-Semitism.  When a Jewish person is invited to an anti-Semitic table, he may be used and abused but he remains in the eyes of his haters a Jewish person.  Ajami worked very hard to erase the Arab label and yet it followed him in his obituary.