August 11, 2011

Call Me Anti-American

Last week, our family was graced with the presence of our college-aged daughter and her Moroccan beau. She, of course, is quite accomplished, hard-working, beautiful, and loving. But since I'm her Mom, I'm "supposed to say those things", as one of my daughters once told me.

So, instead, let me tell you about her Honey.

His name is Nadir (pronounced na-DEER, not NAY-der, as the airline agent, who didn't even give it a college try, pronounced it). He is fluent in English, French and Arabic. He completed the International Baccalaureate degree in high school and is studying Film and International Security and Conflict Resolution here in the States. His goal is to work for an NGO and travel around the world exposing political injustice through documentaries. He has already done a few in his homeland.

So, he, too, is quite accomplished, talented, hard-working, beautiful and loving. And I'm not his Mom, so the compliment counts for more!

And yet, because he travels on a foreign passport and has an unusual (although lovely) name, he has to plan to spend at least a day of layover when re-entering the U.S. after going home to visit his family in Morocco because the customs people always take him to a small room and interrogate him. This surprises me only because after talking to him for just a few minutes, you can get an idea of what he's all about.

When we took him and my daughter to the airport to go back to school, I got to witness the discrimination first hand.

At every turn, she sailed though while he was detained, asked extra questions, and treated like a potential terrorist. I was amazed at the dignity with which Nadir bore it all. I guess that since he's used to it (a sad state, to be sure), he's decided to take the higher road. It was noted.

So I challenge those of you who are into "security" and "safety" to think about the ramifications of that and to try and remember what this country was founded on.

The very definition of an American is someone from somewhere else which encompasses all of us. (Except, of course the Native Americans, but don't get me started on that topic!)

In this nice family photo, you have either:

a Muslim terrorist, a Basque bomber, and Mata Hari


a future Ken Burns, a retired Grandpa, and a future ambassador to Spain.

You be the judge.