Arizona and Islam

By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS

Sacramento–The past several months have been busy for me.  I just attended the inauguration of California’s new Governor here, who – having been my former Mayor, I had been invited to a breakfast [although 7:30 A.M. is a difficult time for me to do business] plus a large meeting the day before the polls in Oakland…] and another long-time political figure I have supported, the Treasurer of this (my) adopted State. (I have now been a citizen of the Eastern Pacific Rim for over forty years now), plus I served during the last election cycle, I, also, have lent my name to a high profile Committee, and was a prominent endorsee of my incumbent Senator who was up for re-election.  She ran her campaign from Los Angeles – an area which is about 450 miles south of my San Francisco Bay Area in the north from where I presently hail. 

This connection opened up an invitation before the November 2nd election last to a luncheon with our President, Barrack Hussein Obama in L.A, plus two invitations to meet with Mrs. Obama also, in the Southland (as the area is described from here), also, which, if my wife agreed, I was willing to do before the election the first Tuesday in November, and to Senator Boxer’s victory celebration in the Hollywood vicinity on that date on November 1st last year. 

Although one-day notices are expensive on the airlines and a “red flag” to the TSA, I must admit jumping on a plane at 5 A.M. and catching the final one out on the same day date, are long past, I would have done so as in my middle period of my age if my wife were more willing to go with me.  All this is not to brag, but urge the Islamic communities in the U.S. and other Western democracies to take part in the political process to see and be seen and to express and the hopes and desires of the community
Our present (and former Governor, Jerry Brown – curiously he has become both the oldest and youngest governor to survive his sprawling regional constituency ran his campaign from the North, centered in Oakland, in which I had inhabited for most of my thirty years in the East (i.e., across from the City and County of San Francisco) Bay until a year ago. 

Although this (my) State has the largest single Regional economy amongst the U.S.’ states, making up as high as a third of D.C. (the political Center of the largest national) bottom line, and despite the recession probably we are emerging as still the eighth largest fiscal presence in the world if we were an independent nation.  (By the way, this was more than an idle threat / movement during the crimes of the Bush Administration – to secede from the Motherland!)   Yet, the average individual citizen is poor because of the refusal of the electorate to support a progressive tax schedule, and regressive laws that have made this city (Sacramento) unable to deliver to the most needy and oppressed of her hinterlands’ residents; so that those occupants be able to gain the skills to better support themselves while enlarging their “commonweal’s” wealth.  Still, in our resources.  We are poor because of our greed!  Let me emphasize here in no way is this an Islamic failing, because in the call to Allah (SWT), the injunctions of the Prophet (s) created charities and structures to help make up for the failing of (any)  government of our citizenship and co-religion!

One of the States that borders California is the now infamous Arizona.  For those of you who can remember — either through living during the heady days of the 1950s and 1960s – or by studying American history, the tensions in the American South (east), and the sacrifices in the fight for Black American inhabitants to achieve more fully their rights — even through martyrdom for their principles — by people of all races and faith communities made to domestically create a more fairer Union.  I am writing up this opinioned essay on the day after the actual birth date of the saintly Christian martyr of the time, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Yet, among most controversially prominent were the Muslim native-born converts largely from the Afro-American oppressed classes.   They were a most vital part of the struggle, too, leading to the Islamic martyrdom of the (controversial) Mullah Malcolm X.  In the University city, in which I presently reside – Berkeley – we  have created a municipal commemoration (“Holiday”) for his sacrifice to the freedom of this race and religion yearly, and a public elementary school has been named here in his honor!  Malcolm was not only an American hero / martyr, but an Islamic one as well, and is one of the most foremost Islamic leadership within and contribution to American history and society.

Arizona borders California over the Southern desert although the Colorado River has been drained to irrigate much of Southern California and Arizona and Northwestern Mexico.

For some reason, I have been put on the Presidente de Mexico’s mailing list.  Last April I was asked to a Conference on U.S.-Mexican relations in Mexico City.  (Unfortunately, I was unable to go because of schedule.)  After the Arizona law was passed, I received a fax (in Spanish) regarding their Federal Government’s response from their Ministry of External Affairs.  At first it was a proposed conscious boycott against Phoenix (Mexico is the Grand Canyon’s State largest foreign market for its goods), which their External Minister had formally proposed as legislation a boycott that would severely damage our border State’ exports).  A bill was being drafted by our neighbors’ Senate for such a move, but it seems to have been put on the side burners since their Administration has decided to join up with the American Civil Liberties’ Union (ACLU’s) suit against the law as amicus curiae.

A temporary injunction has been won against the more egregious segments of the law until the decree can be examined more closely examined by the (U.S.) Federal Courts. Unfortunately, from reports I have been receiving from the from the terrain snatched from the Mexicans in the Mexican-American War of the 1840s, their Center has largely been ordering their law enforcement agencies and Courts to enforce the controversial law despite the temporary injunction until its Constitutionality can be fully determined.  I have intelligence from inside and outside the old territory gained by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) that certain high profile law enforcement officials there are under investigations for serious Federal civil rights violations.

Why do the assassinations of a Federal Court judge, a Congresswoman’s aide plus an attempted assassination against that Congresswoman, the murder of three others including a nine-year old girl (incidentally born on 9-11) and the wounding of several others have any relevance to American Muslims?

Well, during the most recent elections, I saw a clip from Fox news of the Neo-“No-Nothings” (anti-immigration movement) within Alabama roughly contemporaneous with the Mexican-American War that had some similarities to the modern-day pseudo-Tea Party (which name goes back to a pre-Revolutionary War incident of the 1770s in Boston where a shipment of tea was thrown off a boat docked in Boston Bay in protest to the English tax on it).  In this segment of the Fox broadcast a prominent Arizonian hate radio show host, who was running for the Senate against John McCain on a Tea Party platform during the last election cycle, took the “reporter” into the Sonora Desert borderlands near Nogales.  Spontaneously, almost staged, — he picked up a uniform patch that had been thrown aside (planted?), claiming it was from a (Hezbollah) Islamic “terrorist” crossing their frontier to do heinous  things.  Since I know the uniform, it was not a Lebanese, but rather was a Mexican military or (even possibly a local American vigilante militia.)  [There has, also, been at least one exchange of gunfire between the Mexican military and noncommissioned U.S. militias.]

Nonetheless, I made calls to my contacts within that state.  Half were vehemently against what was happening. They supported my contention that Arizona has become the Mississippi of the Twenty-first Century [the State that was the most repressive and resisted desegregation the hardest].  Yet of even deeper concern, two of them expressed Islamophobia (that is why this is an issue and warning for U.S.A. Muslims, and, therefore, why political pro-activity is demanded of the Community in America and Europe). It is the fear of  the new and “alien” cultures and their religious beliefs.  

Curiously, two days before the incident in Tucson, I had written to my President on another related matter with a postscript to proceed against those domestic enemies who advocate the overthrow of the Republic or violence against its representatives or their appointees.  I have, also, written my Senators and Representative on ways governments can protect the new minorities  — and even to (former) Governor Sarah Pallin, one of the worst most cynical instigators of this present-day detestation of the Other, to ask her to take responsibility for the part she has engendered within a portion of society as well as my knowledgeable personal correspondents, informants and discussions with experts in (American) Constitutional law as well as looked at events and solutions in Islamic countries where similar recent threats have been made to their  fragile democracies.

If things do not resolve themselves soon, I hope this composition can help to begin a dialogue among US Muslims and their governmental representatives on how best to guarantee your safety and the Constitutional right to practice your religious beliefs.  I would like to encourage my target audience to start a conversation with your natural allies of potentially vulnerable groups.


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