Arlington Letter: Hardly Non-Partisan

Arlington Letter: Hardly Non-Partisan

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the article [April 13-19 edition] entitled, “More than Tolerance,” about the Muslim Town Hall Meeting held April 9 at the Arlington Library.

This Town Hall was promoted as a “non-partisan community event” hosted by NOVA Muslim Americans and Veterans Challenge Islamophobia. The non-partisan nature of the event was why I decided to attend. But what I heard was not “non-partisan.”

Simply put, the organizers staged an event to bash Virginia Republican legislators, and presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The “Town Hall Meeting” was highly partisan and politically charged.

There were personal stories told, but no discussion about the tenets of Islam, no discussion about the tension between the Qur’an and the Hadith, and no discussion about the possible conflict within the Muslim community about their faith.

Speaker after speaker criticized Republicans. The Virginia legislators and Arlington County Board members who spoke were all Democrats. One Republican was invited to speak (representing Arlington County Republicans), but he sounded just like the Democrats. Even two British speakers politicized the event by bashing Republicans. Something was very odd about the make up of the panelists.

Especially odd was hearing Del. Alfonzo Lopez (D-49) mock Americans who “want to ban Sharia Law.” He was sitting right next to state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), an openly gay man who would be condemned to death under Sharia Law.

Several of the Muslim speakers portrayed “their community” as victims, not able to “own our identify now.” One said, “We can’t deconstruct the stigma on our own.” And another blamed “extremists and the media” for “owning our identity.” This was baffling. None of them defined what their identify is, the identity that supposedly was stolen.

This portrayal of victimhood brings to mind what national Muslim leaders have been saying of late. They are calling on fellow Muslims to unite with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Question time was limited. The few people who asked questions played into the mantra of the speakers. There was little informative discussion. Twice, I tried to ask a question. The moderator acknowledged me, but wouldn’t call on me. It was as if she already knew whom she would call upon.

A man representing the event’s co-sponsor, Veterans Challenging Islamophobia, proudly admitted that his group is “disrupting presidential campaigns” with their signage “No Hate Speech Against Muslims.” You can guess which campaigns.

The Town Hall organizers did a disservice to the Arlington community with this politically charged and thinly veiled event.

Catharine Scott