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“You American Dog”

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent

american_flag Those are the words that a new student in my son’s class launched off a razor sharp tongue this week, much to the amusement of the other students who joined in the racial taunts. While the other students were just seeking an opportunity to humiliate my son, the boy who said it did so with a glare of anger in his eyes. This racial incident came as an unexpected shock to my family, especially since we are devout Muslims and have lived in the Middle East for almost thirteen years.  We have rarely had a problem although there have been some minor incidents, ever since former President bush launched his very narrow minded foreign policy during his tenure as US President.

Up until this past week, I held out hope that President Barack Obama would truly be able to heal the bleeding wound left gaping in the hearts and minds of Muslims in the Middle East. Those hopes went up in smoke with that racial slur that flowed so easily off a brethren in my own faith’s tongue. While the school administration was swift in reprimanding the pupil, the incident just goes to show that, while there is a new American President, there is nothing even remotely similar to healing going on in the Middle East. Quite the contrary, there is a very tangible sense of a collective holding of the breath to see if President Obama is just another wolf in sheep’s clothing.

President Obama’s speech in Turkey this week, in which he said “the United States is not and will never be at war with Islam” and reiterated his “deep appreciation for the Islamic faith,” may seem to most dwellers of the Gulf as nothing more than paying lip service to a problem so gigantic that it overshadows everything else on the Presidential plate. Just because former President Bush’s hands are now bound in civilian ‘handcuffs’ does not mean that the harm he inflicted will go away any time soon. Sovereign Islamic nations were invaded, annihilated and remain occupied with the blood of the innocents staining the streets. And those that escaped with their lives were locked up in Iraq or elsewhere, most notably in Guantanamo Bay. Indeed President Obama has been forthcoming with his plans to close down Guantanamo Bay and pull American troops out of Iraq. However, actions speak louder than words as the Muslim world waits to see if he will really follow through with his campaign promises.

It’s often quite easy for me to be fooled into thinking everything is coming up like roses during my days in the Middle East. Living in  Kuwait is almost like living in my home state of  Connecticut. There’s a McDonald’s restaurant on just about every corner and American staples like ACE Hardware store or even a can of Coca-Cola are always around to remind me of the good ol’ USA. It only takes a mere three words to snap me back to my senses. “You American Dog.” Falling back on the myth of unity within my faith has always been a pipe dream. It’s sad to say that while Islam is one religion, Muslims are more culturally splintered now than ever before, regardless of who is to blame. It’s so obvious that even a child, probably listening to his parent’s dinner conversation, can pick it up and take it right to school with him.


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