01 April 2018

The Said Family: an American Treasure

First, I want to make it clear that I do not know the Said family, personally, although it would be an honor to know them.  I also need to state that I am not suggesting the Said's should be limited to belonging only to America. And for that matter, clearly, they have not limited themselves to also belonging, in addition, to only Lebanon and Palestine - the nations of origin of Miriam and Edward Said.  Even so, we can consider the Said family to be an American treasure.

Many Arab folks emigrated from the region and have done so throughout the decades. Immigration to America from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean started occurring well over a century ago, actually. At first it was primarily from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. Later, refugees arrived from Palestine.  Emigrating was often for self preservation, either by choice, or because as young adults their families sent them away for an education, safety sake, and perhaps also so they would be able to create opportunities from a distance to contribute to resolving the damaging political issues that had developed and were developing. 

Wherever these folks established themselves they recognized and became part of the American communities in which they felt most comfortable, were accepted, appreciated and welcomed, assimilating, but not losing pride in the cultural identities of the nations from which they haled.  As they established themselves they became part of families, sometimes through marriage and raising children.  Many were first welcomed into American families as honorary members by mutual choosing. So it has always been with immigrants whether in exile or not. It is not easy to be an immigrant, even though so many make it appear as if it is an effortless process.

Many will know of the Said family because of Edward Said. Some will know of them also because of his wife Mariam Said. Some may know of them primarily because of their children, Wadie and Najla. Below is a little something about each. I will leave it to the article and videos to provide more detailed introductions to each.

There are undoubtedly many more online sources which would bring this family to the attention of folks who do not know them, and those who do, as well. I offer a few, below. I happened upon these today when I was looking for an Edward Said lecture from whence came an excerpt a friend had shared online that I also shared. 

Meet Najla Said

I mentioned the dimension of exile, above.  Najla Said mentions it in an excerpt from her work. In another excerpt she delves much deeper into the emotionally raw chaos of experiencing those feelings as a teenagers when visiting Gaza for the first time. It is a feeling some first generation children of immigrants experience to varying degrees - each in his or her own way. In Najla's case her teenage experience was unique to being of Palestinian and Lebanese heritage. It was not easy. She also shares her joyful experiences in becoming directly familiar with the culture when visiting Lebanon at a later date.

Najla Said reads of her teenage visit to Gaza

Najla Said Acts Out a Scene From "Palestine"
  "The monologue from her one-woman show reflects a point in her life when the playwright began feeling more connected with Middle Eastern culture."

An Actress Reflects Upon Playing Herself (Najla Said) "It's emotionally intense for Najla Said to relive her childhood of cultural confusion and her eating disorder on stage."

Meet Wadie Said
“I really absorbed from my father the idea of standing up for people who were persecuted or otherwise down-and-out, and wanted to apply that lesson in a different way, hence my initial decision to become a public defender”

How the Son of Edward Said Is Trying to Change Terrorism Prosecutions

Meet the Lovely Miriam Said
"This Interview was filmed for the 2013 Edward Memorial Conference organised and held during the 2013 Treaty of Utrecht programme at the Centre for the Humanities of Utrecht University"

A World I Loved - An Interview with Mariam Said

Meet Edward Said

This short 2-minute comment about religious claims to the land of Palestine is a brief introduction to a foundational issue which keeps our world of nations in seemingly endless conflict.  Said succinctly and eloquently explains why conflicting religious claims cannot be the basis for dispossession in modern times. He reminds us that Israelite kingdoms existed in the region of Palestine for approximately a total of 200 years, some 3000 years ago.

Edward Said: Claims to the Holy Land (Israel and the Occupation of Palestine)
from Q and A at the end of a lecture

This next link is the source of the lecture from which the above excerpt originates.  "Edward Said, acclaimed for his literary and cultural criticism, is a sought-after commentator on Middle Eastern politics and America's foremost spokesman for the Palestinian cause. His influential book, "Orientalism," (1978), is an examination of Western perceptions of the Islamic world. His criticism extends to the United States, which he calls a dishonest broker in the peace process due to its long-standing support for apartheid Israel."

Another video of the excerpt states it is from the lecture "Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and 'God-given land' claims" which is "a lecture given by Dr. Edward W. Said at Columbia University, 2003”, where he was a Professor of English and Comparative Literature. It well may be that he responded to the same question with the same answer at that lecture, as well.

Edward Said: Imperial Continuity - Palestine, Iraq, and U.S. Policy.
University of Washington, The Walker-Ames Lecture Series, recorded 8 May 2003

I can not finish without mentioning that in addition to Edward Said who most know was a prolific author, his wife and children are also published authors.

Our immigrants make our nation better. The Said family is one of many who have become American treasures.  As we all know, a diversity of immigrants have taken a variety of paths in making America their home and adding to our nation in the best ways possible.

Americans are responsible for knowing the facts

Assisting American's in this endeavor is something the Saids and many other immigrants  have been doing, most often by sharing the reality of their own personal experiences.  This is not always easy to do.  So too, increasingly, many more everyday Americans are contributing to educating others after having started to question the status-quo, themselves.  They have learned from people like the Saids, in combination with experiencing
glaringly obvious double standards surrounding the issues which motivates questioners to do their own research and learn for themselves. 

Most understand this is a process that occurs in response to all political issues whenever they become so rife with double standards it is painfully obvious to the point of  people no longer being able to ignore the flawed presentation of issues or the damage they do.  It is a process we have collectively been involved in quite a lot in the very recent past as we experience a plethora of double standards and political polarity surrounding most issues.  This has been the reality of the Israel/Palestine issues for a few weeks short of 70 years.  It used to be a few decades ago that having family and friends from the region and/or who lived in the region, was enough "reason" to pay attention to these issues.  By now it has become vital for all to do so -for many more reasons. 

So, I want to provide one more link.  It is one of many excellent resources for understanding a region which has long been and remains an "elephant in the living room".  In large part the "elephant" is present because of the United States taking sides. In doing so it promotes victimization, all the while claiming it is objectively supporting and advising the one-sided sham policies being dictated which continue to be described as a "peace process" by those doing the dictating.  Although this is far from being only a pocketbook issue, the fact is that approaching it from a depletion-of- the-pocketbook perspective is the only way it will eventually convince some to learn about the issues and how our nation's involvement exacerbates and complicates the issues.

Additionally, until a critical mass of our citizens educate themselves about the actual facts of these issues and make it clear to our elected and appointed government officials that they represent us rather than foreign interests, our nation's policies will continue to be corrupted by the manipulations of foreign interests. Thus, the good that we have the potential to do as a nation will be undermined at increasingly exorbitant cost to all. As we have been experiencing, this shows up, increasingly, as bitter political polarity,  also in many other quality of life issues.  It will continue to do so as long our nation's budget is top-heavy with "defense" costs - in recent years over 50%.

For those who need an example of our own collective needs, think maintaining of infrastructure as an issue that effects everyone. There are countless more, like the availability of equitable health care and equitable education for all.  Instead, wellness and education have become primarily for-profit industries which profit much more extensively than those who need doctoring benefit, and than those who need and want higher education and/or training in the trades benefit. The for-profit priority of both heath and education will continue to negatively effect the welfare of all Americans as both education and health care continue to function as for-profit industries.  By doing so they continue to run rampant at increasingly higher cost to families and less benefit to American's and our nation because neither wellness nor higher education and trade schools are equitably and affordably available to

Thus, I offer the last link: 
Palestine Diary - an excellent resource for not only "the other side of the story" but a variety of associated perspectives which are not presented in the news or to our citizens by our government, about an unnecessarily complex issue which has become that way because we have been mislead about the facts, thus the reality of it.

Not enough of us collectively know the facts to the point of having reached critcal mass in a way that stops our elected and appointed government officials from continuing to ignore our well documented requests and advice.  Until then they will continue to receive perks and/or be threatened with extortion for not cooperating which will result in their reelections being opposed.  That effort is primarily the work of lobbiests illegally representing foreign interests who manipulate our elected and appointed government officials directly, but also make a concentrated effort to not only influence but also control our political parties.  

It is not an exaggeration to state that issues worldwide and our own nation's problems, as well as destruction of people and infrastructure in areas of active combat, are primarily due to our nation's active participation in armed conflict being associated with improperly understood thus unresolved Middle East/Near East/SouthWest Asia issues. Choose the name you prefer. We all know the region.  But to the detriment of the world of nations and our own nation not all of us know the facts.