by user Layla
Crossposted from The HILL Chronicles
Massachusetts, which has never had a homeland security chief before, has now appointed their first homeland security cheif, 37 year old Juliette Kayyem. Kayyem hopes her Lebanese heritage coupled with her background as a high-level counter-terrorism expert will help chip away at negative perceptions some Americans hold when it comes to Arabs and terrorism.
The Arab American News:
In an interview with The Associated Press, the 37-year-old Kayyem said her being chosen by Gov. Deval Patrick to head the homeland security office is an example of Arab-Americans rising to influential positions throughout American society. At the same time, she said her heritage is incidental to her ability to perform her new job.
- "I hope I would have been chosen whether I was Arab-American or not. Arab-Americans are reaching the highest levels of their professions, and that is great," Kayyem said. "And I think it says something that in national security, that hasn’t been true. I think the national security community has not been that receptive to people of a variety of descents."
Kayyem isn’t a latecomer to involvement with anti-terrorism efforts. Two years prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, Kayyem was one of 10 people appointed to the National Commission on Terrorism. Congress created the commission to evaluate the growing threat against the United States and to evaluate the nation’s laws and policies pertaining to terrorism. The commission was chaired by Ambassador Paul Bremer and members included former CIA Director James Woolsey, retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing and presidential intelligence adviser Maurice Sonnenberg.
Kayyem is married to Harvard Law School professor David Barron. The couple have three children and live in Cambridge. Arab-Americans are looking forward to Kayyem being another example of someone from that ethnic background breaking stereotypes stirred by the terrorist attacks.
Nidal Ibrahim, [Executive Director] of the Washington-based Arab American Institute, said Kayyem’s appointment will help raise the profile of Arab-Americans in key government positions. He cites as an example Army Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and five members of Congress: Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire, and Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Charles Boustany of Louisiana, Nick Rahall of West Virginia and Ray Lahood of Illinois.
Nabil Ibrahim said:
- "We vote, volunteer and donate to political campaigns," Ibrahim said. "You’re seeing quite a bit of activism, making sure our voices are being heard at all levels of national and local government."
I agree with Ibrahim that their voices are being heard at all levels of national and local government. Rep. Keith Ellison is a prime example, though not a good one considering the controversy he caused surrounding his swearing in by insisting to use the Koran instead of the Bible.
There is of course Barack Obama whose past suggests that he still has sympathetic ties with terrorists by having attended a madrassa. Not to mention many question whether he truly is a professing Christian. In the Arab world - on their streets Obama is viewed as a Muslim. So once a Muslim always a Muslim according to Islamic Law.
So in light of this it is interesting to note that Kayyem does not consider racial or ethnic profiling a highly effective defense against terrorism.
- "The terrorists will alter their profile if we say we’re profiling," she said. "And you have to weigh it (profiling) against the impact you’re going to have against a community you’re going to need cooperation from."
What does she suggest as a solution to profiling? Like many she says what she believes and or thinks, but does not raise an alternative to replace profiling. And she made this rather condescending statement:
- "I watch ‘24′ like everyone else. There is no Arab on that show who is not a terrorist or ex-terrorist," said Juliette Kayyem, who officially became undersecretary of homeland security on Monday. "I hope the American public can separate fiction from fact, but I worry that the only representations of Arabs on TV are as terrorists."
What does she expect in the wake of 9/11? The terrorists were Arabs. Period. The majority of global terrorism is done by radical Arab-Muslims. That is a fact. I think she needs to separate fact from fiction. We all know "24" is fiction, but "9/11" was and is a fact.