“Kennedy said, “Look, you all letting this thing go too far.” And Old Tom said, “Boss, I can’t stop it, because I didn’t start it.” I’m telling you what they said. They said, “I’m not even in it, much less at the head of it.” They said, “These Negroes are doing things on their own. They’re running ahead of us.” And that old shrewd fox, he said, “Well if you all aren’t in it, I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it. I’ll endorse it. I’ll welcome it. I’ll help it. I’ll join it.”
~ Malcolm X, Oct 10, 1963
Majd Yaseen remembers the first time she went to an ADC event in Raleigh, North Carolina: “I was a college freshman back then, and had just recently emigrated from Saracen lands. The hall looked too fancy, and it was filled with at least five hundred people. Each person was served an entire grilled chicken. I thought to myself: “wasteful! Who eats a whole chicken all by himself?” Plus, it tasted like it came out of a microwave. The event then began, with key speakers and projected videos. That was the first time I watched The Arab Dream (الحلم العربي) video clip. I was truly touched by it. When they turned the lights back on, I found out I wasn’t the only one crying.
“Then more speakers came up on stage to deliver strong messages to our cause, in particular Palestine and Iraq. And then suddenly, in the middle of a touching speech, a strong voice came from the crowd, in Arabic, shouting: “Enough already! Where is the belly dancer?” And hundreds began to whistle and clap. They had effectively shut the speaker up. He simply walked off the stage, and the host came back up to announce the beginning of the main event. Then loud Arabic music started, and a half-naked belly-dancer showed up on stage. People rose to their feet, clapping and chanting, and scores of beautiful Arab girls and boys got off their seats and danced.
“I didn’t know what to make of it at the time. I didn’t know whether to hate the completely insensitive crowd to our cause, or whether to blame ADC for using the cause to sell tickets to a party (حفلة) of food and dance.
“After years of on-campus activism, meetings, presentations, and demonstrations, I have come to learn the self-evident truth: a nonprofit political organization (like ADC, AAI, CAIR, etc.) cannot become that popular without massive donations from other wealthy and corrupt organizations and individuals. The organization that doesn’t succumb to the global power structure, therefore, is always short on money and unable to gain wide support and recognition from the community.”
This phenomenon that Majd observed has been further detailed by Yaman Salahi, in his article “The NGOization of Palestine.”
When Arab-Americans began to call for supporting all Arab revolutions, boycotting Israel, liberating Palestine and Iraq; the American government basically said to ADC et al., “look, you all letting this thing go too far.” And [Abbas*] said, “Boss, I can’t stop it, because I didn’t start it… I’m not even in it, much less at the head of it… These [Arabs] are doing things on their own. They’re running ahead of us.” To which the American government and its corporate lords replied: “Well, if you all aren’t in it, I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it. I’ll endorse it. I’ll welcome it. I’ll help it. I’ll join it.”
* – Abbas refers to Ahmad Matar’s poem “عباس وراء المتراس”Filed Under ADC, arab-americans, Arab/Muslim Lobby, ngo, NGOization, palestine, Sarakenos, Yaman