Dear Pro-Birthers and Muslim-Banners

If you read that headline and thought these are not (necessarily) one big group.   Then you’re right. These two things are together in one title because they came to a head in the same week and because they are not mutually exclusive. Some of you might belong in one camp and not the other.

I get it.

As likely as not, judging by the people who were in Washington on Jan 20th and Jan 26th, these views probably do overlap.

And the pro-birth movement is not doing itself (or anyone else, least of all the imagined babies) many favors.

The main issue the rest of us have with the idea of promoting life above a mother’s life, above medical advice, irrespective of the circumstances of conception (rape), is that the very people who place such value on the right to life, don’t seem to value it once the baby is born.

Life for that baby seems full of hope.

To be born but without health coverage. Hope you don’t get sick.

To be born to a parent making less than a man in the same role. Hope you can make it college.

To be alive with the very real chance that your precious life might end studying at school, watching a movie, or shopping in the mall. Hope you don’t get shot.

Hope you get lots of help from someone because the same people who did everything to make sure you were born – including increase the chance of you killing your mother – will be voting to take away programs that you’ll need.

These people will instead spend their time focusing on stories of outliers, the .1% of extreme methods used by mothers who are forced into last minute decisions due to one circumstance or another. They will post and repost graphic images of other babies and clamor that everyone has the right to live.

And when the government passes a law saying that refugee children fleeing some of the most horrific, prolonged wars cannot enter our country, so that those children can access the basic rights of life they hold so dear, well, let’s hope these people who value life so much appreciate nuance.

That they understand the irony of denying a living child the security of life but marching to protect the lives of the unborn.

That they are aware that a citizen from any of 7 countries on the banned list has never been involved in a terrorist attack.

That they can appreciate why people with legal documents should be allowed entry to the place they call home.

If you’re not pro-birth, but are anti-Muslim, it may stem from another tide of feeling which could also benefit from an appreciation of irony: true Christianity.

Jesus was not born to the Caucasian parents of a Cadillac dealership in Atlanta, Georgia. He was, as you may have heard last month, or even watched reenacted, born to a pregnant teenager in a horse stable.

He fled persecution and found refuge in Egypt.

He also said so many things about poor people – and promiscuous women – you probably want to go brush up on it. It’s kind of all summed up in these phrases, “love your enemies” and “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

We are divided today in a way our modern generations can’t remember. How far back to do we have to go to the level of inequality and refusal to engage in logic around the issues?

The 60s? The Civil War?

Jesus wept.






An Arab Detective is Born During #NaNoWriMo2014

Photo by Tamás Mészáros

I’m doing #NaNoWriMo, that crazy month of writing pell-mell, towards the goal of a 50,000 manuscript by December 1st. This is my fourth time taking the plunge to write 1666 words a day. I’ve only ‘won’ or finished on time once and that was for the award winning novel Saving Peace. The very first time I was distracted by Thanksgiving. Another year, when I was working on The Dohmestics, I was tied up in revisions for the paperback version of another project. Needless to say, whether or not I’ve finished, NaNo has been extremely productive.

The book is as yet untitled, so those suggestions are welcome as well. This is a new genre for me, crime thriller. Let’s begin with Ali, our detective who has a secret. And a very boring day job. Or so he thinks.


On his way to the station, Ali’s mobile rang, filling the vehicle’s speakers with its metallic ring.  “Get down to the mall bridge,” Omar said, after a terse greeting. “There’s an accident.” Ali groaned. He made a sharp U turn at the next roundabout, cursing the position of his father’s house, a mere minutes from the busiest cross-city artery. He was their first call for this area and there was an accident on or near the bridge every weekend. When he arrived, traffic was already crawling up the bridge like burdened ants. “Send a tow truck,” he texted Omar. He drummed his fingers on the dash, inching forward, regretting not taking the marked vehicle they offered to everyone on the service. He despised the way others abused the blue, white, and grey SUVs, putting on their flashers to get past slow drivers, or turning on the siren to careen through crowded streets.  He drove his white Nissan like hundreds of others on the roads but the siren would come in handy in times like now.

After twenty minutes of bumper to bumper, he pulled over in front of where a white SUV had rammed into the back of pick up truck. The force of the impact from the much larger Land Cruiser flattened the truck bed like a piece of pita bread. Ali strode to the first vehicle; on the other side, squeezed between the passenger door and the bridge’s railing were two skinny cinnamon colored men. “Okay? You okay?”

They looked up, their eyes wide, stunned like camels that had fallen off their transport, taking in his full height, crisp blue and black uniform. “Fine?” The men looked at each other, then turned to him, doing the side to side head movement that always confused him. Did it mean yes? Or no? From the way they used it, apparently the head lilt could be both at once. Horns were starting to sound of the other drivers who wanted to get onto the bridge. Ali reassured himself he saw no blood or bones. He kept walking, to check on the other driver.

The other man was talking animatedly on the phone, his head visible behind the deflated airbag which had popped like a child’s party balloon. Ali rapped on the window, expecting a litany about how Indians didn’t know how to drive. Instead, the boy, for that’s how he revealed himself, hung out of the driver side window, his hands shaking.

“This is a new car,” he said in local dialect, the sun glinting on his braces. “My father is going to kill me.”

“Are you hurt?”

The boy shook his head. Ali could see the purple knot forming on his forehead, pushing to the surface. That was going to hurt. He nodded, indicating the boy should stay in the car. He didn’t bother asking for a license. There was no sign of facial hair on the boy’s angled cheekbones or curved lip.

“No one has been hurt,” Ali reported to Omar who grunted a blessing. “This is going to be a mess in ten minutes.” He hung up, trying in vain with the Indians to get the pick up to start. The engine protested, failing to turn over, the belts screeching like a cat being stretched between two poles. They were on the tail end of the bridge, slightly past the ascending slope on this slide, so that ruled out pushing the vehicle two hundred meters to the other end. Going backward made more sense, as they could find room to stash the vehicle under the overpass. But that would mean heading into oncoming traffic. His Nissan could tow the truck but the captain would frown on his getting personally involved. They watched traffic halt on either side for at least 2 kilometers; the drivers of oncoming traffic braking to see what happened. When the tow truck arrived, night blanketed the city, the call to prayer rising from the mosques in the area like fresh bread. He turned over management of the accident to the officer who arrived with the tow truck driver. “Don’t tell my dad,” the teenager pleaded. His cousins, around the same age, judging by their narrow shoulders, had shown up, taking photos of both vehicles with their shiny Smartphones.

That he had been sweating the two hours they waited for the tow truck soured Ali’s mood as well as his uniform on the way to the office. He sat at his desk, or at his station on the long slab of plastic counter, his hands at his temples. His eyes angled downward, towards his phone, like so many of the other policemen in the station. Well, when there were others. In the middle of the afternoon, as the desert heat rippled the air outside like a shimmering wave, he was the only one around during the shift change. Anyone entering the office would think he was watching a YouTube video or reading the Qu’ran and maybe take a seat, waiting for someone else to show up.

The Art of the Backhanded Compliment

English: Sleeping baby boy
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was an undergraduate studying abroad in China, I observed the Asian value of deflecting compliments or modesty. You tell a friend you like her hair or that she’s good student and she would promptly find an inherent flaw in her personality to negate your compliment, least you find her arrogant or prideful.

No worries on that front living in the Arab world surrounded by people from cultures who bask in direct assault of honesty.

Has it happened to you? Someone begins a sentence, that sounds like praise. Your face stretches into a smile. Then, the sentence ends. Instead of feeling good, you feel slightly down on yourself but you can’t put your finger on why.

This has been par for the course in my post baby #2 world. Not only did all and sundry give unsolicited opinions about their thoughts on my size, shape, and wardrobe, five weeks into life on the outside for our newborn and apparently it’s open season on comparisons.

“Your face is much smaller than when you were pregnant!” Some people have exclaimed as though this would make them my best friend.

“You’re much smaller than after you had your last son,” others have nodded seriously.

The list goes on. The most common refrain: “You look great for someone who has just had a baby.”

Have that sentence said to you enough times and you’ll wish for a period in more ways than one.

What’s the most backhanded compliment anyone has ever given you? And what did you say in response?


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