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.






Support Love in the Shadow of Pharaohs

What was your life like five years ago? I had a six month old and was working a publishing company. How times change!

It’s been 5 years since protests in Egypt sparked a national uprising that inspired others around the Middle East to stand up and speak out.

My friend Areej Noor filmed on a documentary about the personal consequences of these political changes on everyday Egpytians. She’s raising money to go into post-production edits for Love in the Shadow of Pharaohs.

Watch the trailer and check out their campaign page.


What if all Americans were Trumped out of the Middle East?

I hate rhetorical questions. I tell students not to use them in writing because they can always be answered in the negative. In the case of today’s post, I’m making an exception.

Because the idea that countries in the Middle East would deport or restrict Americans from crossing their borders is rhetorical. No rational person holds American citizens responsible for the actions of their government. I say no rational person because there is the quite dramatic exception of those who would make symbolic targets of citizens of western nations for their own purposes.

For decades, the United States and Americans have enjoyed impunity when it comes the division between the State and the individual. When I studied abroad in China as an undergraduate, Chinese students wanted to know what my life was like. Not about American attitudes towards communism.

Cartoon by rackjite

During my first, and as of yet only visit to Yemen, a female student, covered from head to toe in black, pulled me aside to ask “what Oprah meant when she says God is in the details.”

Speaking of Oprah, after one of my first visits into a Qatari home, the Arabian emirate where I have lived for the last 10 years, my friend’s brother told his cousins that Oprah (me) had visited them.

Americans travel the world without having to answer for the Vietnam war. Thousands of us live in the Middle East without having to apologize for the decisions of the Bush presidency or the catastrophic Iraq war.

In fact, 6.3 millions of Americans live outside of America. If you, like me, live outside of our home country, you are probably greeted with exclamations of “I love Britney Spears!” or “Michael Jordan is the best athlete of all time.” Over and over and over again when I got into taxi cabs during my six week Arabic course in Syria drivers said to me: “America good” or “I love America.”

In exchange for the courteous welcome we receive overseas, how about the Americans living inside America let Donald Trump know that the idea that all Muslims must answer for the actions of the radical few is not only preposterous, but is also antithetical to notions of democracy, and the religious freedom on which these United States were founded, it is plain unfair.

Trump’s recent suggestions that Muslims inside the United States be issued identification cards, to ban people of Muslim faith until “we fully understand the dangerous threat” have triggered widespread derision and alarm.

I’m thankful that we are no longer laughing. I hope the people who were saying “I like him because he says what we’re all thinking,” have changed their minds.