Monday, December 19

Internally Hemorrhaging

So I was once into the whole politically making a difference phase. Perhaps you knew [a part of] me then. This post is to illustrate why I resigned from the idea of trying to participate in the political arena to make a difference in this world. Don't worry--I still vote, for whatever it's worth.

Here's some background on what was going on:

I was convinced by my dad last year to attend this forum on working towards peace in Palestine. I must have been suicidal, now that I think about it. What was I thinking...Anyway, the summer before my senior year of high school, I went to this summer camp that's geared towards educating youth about how the U.S. Government works (and doesn't work). It was interesting. Anyway, in order to go, all the candidates needed to be sponsored. The VFW took care of finding us sponsors, so I didn't really bother thinking about it then...

Subhan Allah, the dude that sponsored me was totally the head of the zionist movement in Rapid City. Go figure. I didn't know him then--I just knew his name was something or other Adelstein and he was sponsoring me. So three years later, I met him at the forum. It was very town-meeting. George McGovern was speaking, along with two other pretty awesome panelists. During the q&a, Adelstein stood up from the audience and, without thinking once that maybe there could be Muslim people in the room (or at least one who understood English), he said something to the effect of "...I don't know how they treat their women, but in America, our values teach us that those kinds of people should not be supported in anyway..." Dude, he's lucky--no, he's damn BLESSED--that I'm anti-second amendment.

*I never ended up sending this letter to him. I read it to my parents the night before I was planning on sending it, and my mom's eyes just filled with tears. She couldn't speak. I don't know how that's related to why I didn't send the letter, but whatever.

May 1, 2005

Sen. Stan Adelstein

Mr. Adelstein,

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for being such a charitable and generous member of our community. In addition to your many charitable activities, you had sponsored me to attend the 2002 South Dakota Girls State program through the American Legion. It was an experience I will always remember. Over the one-week duration of the camp, in the group of about 500 girls, I was elected as a County Party Treasurer/Secretary, State Senator, and Senate Minority Whip. I learned first hand about how our government works and how policies are made. Ever since, I’ve been indebted to your compassion and generosity. I went on to work for various campaigns, as well as being politically active as a student at the University of Minnesota. And although I’m aspiring to be a cognitive psychologist someday, I know I will continue to vote in every election (at all levels of government) as well as engaging in other political events, thanks to the enlightening experiences I have been blessed to be able to partake in because of people like you.

Now you may be wondering why I am writing to you after nearly three years. Well, firstly, as I mentioned, I am writing out of gratitude that has truly been long overdue—better late than never, I guess. Secondly, I am writing to you because I’ve realized quite recently that your charity should have gone to a quite different beneficiary.

My name is Samira, and I am an American Muslim who grew up in Rapid City. Perhaps you had seen me at the Bridges for Intercultural Peace Forum on Sunday, May 1st, 2005—I was wearing traditional Islamic clothing, with a blue scarf. As I was listening to your comments to the panelists, I must say, I was deeply offended by your words. I want to clarify that my offence does not at all concern which side you supported of the topic relevant to the forum, but rather, it was your capricious misrepresentation of Islam in regard to the treatment of Muslim women. Perhaps it was more of mockery. Sir, it is one thing to disagree with domestic abuse or maltreatment of women; It is another to slander a religion, associating it with practices that are explicitly condemned by it. I respect your right to free speech, to maintain the views of your own accord. And that is why you will find, enclosed, your charitable donation respectfully returned. I am certain, especially after your statements, that had you even seen a picture of me before writing the check, you would have found a better investment with another beneficiary.

Mr. Adelstein, being offended was not what brought tears to my eyes; What saddened me most was to hear such a respectable, such an accomplished, educated and generous statesman make a remark so saturated with ignorance, prejudice, and insensitivity at the least. I insist you accept your returned donation—we would certainly not want you to make the same mistake twice. Further, your acceptance of the returned donation will not indicate either your agreement or disagreement with any of the above statements (you have my signature at the bottom of this letter to contractually bind me to my words). I only feel obligated to correct this mishap as soon as possible and put it behind me, or else, I know I will carry this agonizing burden to and beyond my grave.

And again, I would like to humbly thank you for your generous efforts, time, and dedication towards the betterment of our communities. I pray that charitable, compassionate people, as yourself, are rewarded the best of rewards for every good action and kind thought, in this life and the next. Peace be with you.


Samira M. Choudhury

Check Enclosed

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