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Americans howl about injustice of others, but not their own
By Ray Hanania — The way Americans have been howling about the outrageous punishment of a Saudi Arabian woman who was gang raped and sentenced to 200 lashes, you would think that they care about how Arabs and Muslims are treated. Even President Bush expressed his anger when asked about the case. But the reality is that neither President Bush nor most Americans really care about the Saudi woman, nor do they care about her lawyer who is also being punished for defending her In reality, Americans do not really care about the fate of the young girl. The fact is the punishment is outrageous by American standards, although her rapists were all convicted and sentenced to jail time, too. For Americans, the girl only symbolizes an opportunity to bash Arabs and Muslims. They could care less about justice. How do I know that? Because right here in America are injustices that tower above the case of the Saudi girl, and they don’t care.
In fact, there are thousands of cases of how American justice is far worse than Arab or Muslim justice.
Take the case of Genarlow Wilson, who is African American. Wilson once was considered a role model and his future as an athlete was bright. A few years ago, as a 17 year old boy, he had oral sex with a girl who was 15.
Everyone, including the girl and the prosecution, agreed the girl initiated the sexual conduct, not Wilson. But because of archaic American laws in the State of Georgia, where Black people once were routinely hanged from trees through most of the 19th Century and first half of the 20th Century, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
What he did wasn’t right, even though one might argue who was just an irresponsible child. Georgia law also has some quirks that make this even more of an injustice. For example, it is a misdemeanor, or a lesser crime, for teenagers who are less than three years apart in age, to engage in sexual intercourse. But it is a felony for even teenagers to have oral sex.
Clearly, Wilson and the girl should be punished in American law. But to spend 10 years in prison? Ironically, after Wilson’s conviction, the Georgia Legislature repealed the law, but not Wilson’s sentence. A judge ruled the sentence should be thrown out, but that ruling was quickly appealed.
It was an example of outrageous American “justice.”
Oh they didn’t give him 200 lashes, which I will bet Wilson would have taken in exchange for serving 10 years of his life behind bars. By the way, the lashes against the Saudi girl are not like the lashes we see in the movies that shred a victim’s skin. They are like being punished by a father with a belt. And they are not all given at one time, but in groups to minimize physical harm.
Right after Sept. 11, 2001, civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart was charged with “conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists and defrauding the U.S. government.”
The charges were based on the fact that she was representing one of the most disliked Muslims in America, fundamentalist Islamic cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted and sentenced to life in 1996 for seditious conspiracy related to alleged plots to attack New York landmarks.
Stewart, who is 65, faced a 45 year jail sentence after she was convicted on all five counts of the politically motivated charges. She was sentenced to 28 months in jail and she was stripped of her license to practice law, insuring she could never again represent a Muslim American who felt he was being unfairly persecuted because of his political views.
They say in America, everyone has a right to a defense and legal representation, except, apparently, Muslims.
In 1995, Leandro Andrade, a 37-year-old Army veteran with three kids and a drug habit, walked into a K-Mart retail store in Ontario, California and stole five videos worth $85. Security guards stopped him. Two weeks later, Andrade walked into another K-Mart and tried to steal four more videos worth $69. He was caught, tried and convicted, and sentenced to a prison term of 50 years to life.
Studies have shown that African Americans and minorities are nore likely to be sentenced to longer jail time than White Americans, who happen to be leading the outcry against outrageous conduct in Arab and Muslim countries.
Every day, innocent people are jailed and sentenced to lengthy jail terms. And every day, someone is punished because they happen to be Arab or Muslim and expressed views that are unpopular.
There are hundreds maybe even thousands of Arabs and Muslims who are being held in jails without even being given the opportunity to defend themselves, falsely accused of supporting terrorism.
In some cases, the prisoners have been tortured, but no one can prove it any more because the government has destroyed video evidence of how the prisoners were being “interrogated.”
Sometimes, these victims of American justice manage to be released, but only after long difficult struggles to prove their innocence. Released or not, their ordeals are severe hardships that destroy their lives.
Yet all that Americans can think about these days is the fate of the young Muslim girl. She wasn’t punished for being raped, as is being implied. She is being punished, I feel unjustly, for violating a Saudi Arabian custom that prohibits unmarried girls from being in a car with young men.
There is a lot of injustice in the world and there is as much injustice in America as there is anywhere else.
You wouldn’t know it from the righteous indignation of the Americans who scream about alleged Arab and Muslim conduct, but who remain silent and complicit when the victims of injustice live right here in the United States.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author. He can be reached at www.hanania.com. Arab American Writers Group Syndicate, www.ArabWritersGroup.com.)
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Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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