Fear & Hatred In The Apple
[col. writ. 9/8/07] (c) ’07 Mumia Abu-Jamal
In New York City will soon open the Kahlil Gibran International Academy, a center for the study of Arabic language and culture.
Or maybe not.
That’s because the school, named for a brilliant Lebanese-American writer, has become the focus of a right-wing campaign against its staff, and its very existence.
Racist and right-wing groups and media outlets have so demonized the school, that its respected educator and the school’s principal, Debbie Al-Montaser, felt compelled to resign.
Gibran would be shocked by the campaign of hatred and fear generated around a school named after him.
Of all things, Al-Montaser has been forced to leave because of a media-sparked uproar over a T-shirt, which bore the words, “Intifada NYC.” The T-shirt is the production of the group, Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media (AWAM), a group with no ties to the Kahlil Gibran Academy.
Leave it to the notorious New York Post to use the t-shirt to depict Al-Montaser as “The Intifada Principal” (in a headline), who apparently is calling for “a Gaza-style uprising in the Big Apple.”
It is beyond irony that a school named for one of the most revered Arab writers, who, with several of his countrymen spent long years in the U.S., should become the focus of so much fear and hatred.
Gibran is perhaps best-known for his classic 1923 work, The Prophet, a book of glorious prose, and sensitive spiritual themes. To add to the irony Gibran was a Christian.
A school named in honor of an Arab Christian will hardly bloom into the site described by the New York Sun as a place to “groom future radicals.”
But in a nation where Arab is merely a synonym for ‘terrorist’, and it is assumed that all Arabs are Muslims it is hardly surprising that some right-wing media will exploit that ignorance, and feed it. More…