The "Fill In The Blank" Test

In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful

U.S. Representative Mark Kirk, Republican from the Northern suburbs of Illinois, said something which really surprised me, but at the same time, really did not surprise me. At a technology conference at Northwestern University on November 5, he said, “I’m OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states.”

Several groups – including the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Hispanic Ministry, the Korean American Senior Center, and the United Methodist Church’s Northern Illinois Conference – have demanded a retraction and apology. Rep. Kirk, however, refused to apologize and said it is crucial for the United States to protect its borders from foreign terrorists.

That’s true, but it does not mean that it’s “OK” to discriminate against an ENTIRE ethnic group.

*Sigh* This is not the first time that politicians have used the Arab-American and American-Muslim community as a politically expedient punching bag. It’s not right, but it is one of the sad, new realities of living in America after September 11. Yet, like I said, it is not right, and I have a solution for Rep. Kirk – or any other politician, public official, or pundit – to help prevent them from making an inappropriate remark about the Muslim community. It’s called the “fill in the blank” test.

Let’s take the Kirk statement:

“I’m OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states.”

The “fill in the blank” test will go like this:

“I’m OK with discrimination against __________ from __________.”

What if the blanks were filled in with “young black males” and “inner city,” or “young Hispanic males” and “barrio,” or “illegal immigrants” and “Mexico”? Would the statement be appropriate? Absolutely not. Well, the same should apply to Arabs and Muslims.

Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? And don’t worry, I will not ask for any royalties for the “fill in the blank” test. I offer it free of charge to any politician, official, or pundit who ever considers maligning the Arab and Muslim communities in the future. What a bargain, eh?


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