Last January 19, Dr. Michelle Alexander wrote an excellent column about the need for Afro-American intellectuals and activists to support the oppressed Palestinian people. Referring to Dr. Martin Luther King, and his condemnation of the Vietnam war, whatever the price, she called on her fellow citizens to be as courage as Dr. King was: The Palestinian cause is one of the central struggles of the day and there will be no freedom for all us, as Nelson Mandela once stated, if the Palestinians are not free and treated with the dignity human beings deserves. This is so very true.
I read a myriad of positive comments about Dr. Alexander’s courage. So many Africans, Middle-Easterners and Muslims were so enthusiastic: this is it, this is the way, and this is our hope! Let us unite around the oppressed Palestinians, let us speak out and dare to face the very powerful lobbies, in the US or wherever they are. This is so very encouraging.
Now let us be clear. As there will be no freedom for the Afro-American people if their leaders blindly ignore the Palestinians’ ordeal… there will be no future, as well, if the Muslims around the world – Western Muslims in the first place – are not involved in the struggle against racism and the structured system of oppression against the Black people in the US in particular, the West in general, and obviously in the Muslim majority countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Muslims cannot be silent and pretend to ignore that racism against Black people – even though it is in contradiction with the Islamic teachings – is part of their history and sometimes, sadly, a constitutive element of their way of thinking and living. Those immigrant Muslims who feel “Americans” for they buy and share the American dream while ignoring the Black “American nightmare” – as described by Malcolm X – are not integrated but “disintegrated”. They are “Americans” or Westerners at the cost of they being humans… They got their citizenship, they lost their humanity, and with it their principles and dignity. This is so very sad.
These struggles are all connected and interdependent. If you feel dignified when one talks about “your” people, your oppressed people, while you disappear, neglect and ignore “their” oppressed, “the others”, it means you are critically missing the point. You are simply getting it wrong. Dangerously wrong. All the oppressed are “our” oppressed. Freedom for the dehumanized Palestinians has no meaning if one accepts that the Black people continue to be dehumanized in the US inner cities and jails. This is our very common destiny.
This is one and the same cause: Humanity is one and there is no dignity in selective struggle for dignity. This is our very first shared truth.