The Right-Wing's War on the Gibran Academy (and Common Sense)
By by Anthony DiMaggio
".......I wanted to believe that we'd come far enough in this country that Muslim-Americans and non-citizens alike don't have to suffer under irrational hatred, fanaticism, and repression. But for America's small, but influential right-wing minority, this seems too much to ask.
I am referring to the racist war that has been declared on the Khalil Gibran International Academy (in New York), and most specifically its Principal, Debbie Almontaser. The Gibran Academy is the first public institution in the U.S. committed specifically to learning the Arabic language. But the way the school has been attacked in media diatribes, one would think it was named after Osama bin Laden, rather than an uncontroversial, but well known poet. The Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran is best known for his classic work, The Prophet, written over 80 years ago and translated into over 20 languages. While Gibran's works focused heavily on the corruption of Christian clergies and churches of his day, his other common themes include love, religion, life and death, and philosophy.
The Gibran Academy "controversy" comes at a time when Americans are desperately in need of shedding their parochialism of foreign cultures and languages. As the United States has become an international pariah during its occupation of Iraq, attacks on diversity can do little but strengthen American isolationism and ignorance. Americans are consistently rated in world opinion polls along with Iran and North Korea in terms of likeability, and incidents such as the Gibran protest are unlikely to improve its image. The anti-Arabic campaign is being spearheaded by notable reactionaries such as Daniel Pipes and Alicia Colon, as well as newspapers in the Big Apple including the New York Post and New York Sun......."