Culture

Award-Winning Author Asks in New York Times: ‘I’m a Muslim and Arab American. Will I Ever Be an Equal Citizen?’

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

You know what you need? The New York Times knows. Your moral superiors at the Times know that what you need today is a harrowing tale of racism, oppression, “Islamophobia,” xenophobia, and all the rest of the things that make for a true horror story as far as the Left is concerned. On Thursday, The New York Times gave you what you need: it featured a lengthy whine from Laila Lalami, 4,500 words long but entirely summed up by its title: “I’m a Muslim and Arab American. Will I Ever Be an Equal Citizen?”

Who is Laila Lalami? If you were one of the smart set, the real in-crowd, you would know already. But here’s the scoop for the great unwashed: Laila Lalami is a bestselling novelist. She has been nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. She was interviewed at the 2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival. She has been featured on the cover of the prestigious Kirkus Reviews. Her novel The Moor’s Account won the American Book Award, the Arab-American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

Lalami’s novel The Other Americans was a best-of-2019 selection from NPR, Time, and Kirkus, and a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Her essays and criticism have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Harper’s, The Guardian, and The New York Times. She has received fellowships from the British Council, the Fulbright Program, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Yet despite being rich with honors and praise, hailed and celebrated everywhere, Laila Lalami wants you to know that as a Muslim migrant, she is a victim, and a second-class citizen, and it’s your fault, you racist, redneck “Islamophobe.” Someone actually left her a note reading, “Go back home!” and the note-writer might want to go back home himself if forced to read the rant Lalami contributed to the Times in response. She pours out 4,500 words in The New York Times about how this isn’t the first time Americans have said rude things to her. She says that these rude statements, as well as others that have been said to Rashida Tlaib or Ilhan Omar, are apparently tantamount to a denial or revocation of the U.S. citizenship of these Muslims.

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In reality, Ms. Lalami, people say rude things to other people all the time, and if it isn’t because someone is an America-hating migrant, it will be because of something else: people are always too tall, or too short, or too fat, or too thin, or too smart, or too stupid, or doormats, or rude, and other people will say something to them about it, justified or not. This is, alas, the human condition, not a sign of how cruel, “Islamophobic” and xenophobic Americans are.

Above all, Ms. Lalami, people saying unkind things to you does not mean you are not an equal citizen. Believe it or not, people are rude to non-immigrants as well as to immigrants. You actually enjoy exactly the same rights, the same responsibilities before the law, the same privileges that every other American citizen enjoys. Your citizenship is not conditional; once you are naturalized, you’re an American. By spreading this crude and baseless victimhood propaganda in The New York Times, you increase resentment of America and Americans among your fellow Muslims and leftists, and increase the likelihood that the nation will further split apart into hostile camps and possibly even erupt into civil war. Is that what you want?

Laila Lalami is actually not an equal citizen of the United States: she is a highly privileged citizen. Because Muslim migrants and victimhood propaganda are both highly prized among the American intelligentsia today, Laila Lalami has been laden with awards and honors. She has been featured at places that would never dream of featuring a writer who opposed jihad violence and Sharia oppression, because opposition to jihad violence and Sharia oppression has been smeared as “Islamophobia” on the basis of false claims such as those that Laila Lalami advances in this article. But any writer who opposes jihad violence and Sharia oppression would be asinine to claim that because his or her views are so far out of favor with the political and cultural elites, that therefore he or she is not an equal citizen. It would take a professional whiner, such as Laila Lalami, to do that.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

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