Abstract

In the United States people of Middle Eastern descent are legally/politically categorized as white, but in social encounters and popular representations Middle Eastern people are treated as a nonwhite inferior collective. In the absence of explicit systemic recognition through a protected class status, Middle Eastern Americans are not just vulnerable to the social-systemic violence that accompanies racialization; that violence is being tacitly permitted. I address this problem by describing the historical and political conditions that afford this racialization in the United States. I argue that the racialization of Middle Easterners, best understood from a historical perspective, is rooted in the repetitive treatment of certain peoples as objects of war to be degraded, exploited, dominated, and destroyed. To be treated as inferior and disposable is a general function of racism, which is afforded by racialization; but, the historical conditions of the mistreatment of Middle Eastern peoples create a unique set of problems and tensions that assign specific meanings which must be addressed in combating racism. Included among these tensions is a problematic narrative that claims Middle Eastern peoples are an almost naturally warlike and thus fragmented collective. The problem of disunity results from being created and treated as objects of war. Thus, social recognition, or solidarity, is needed along with systemic recognition. As a more effective means of countering the repetitious practices of subjugation, I plea for a solidarity among Middle Eastern Americans in response to Orientalist-racist scripts that claim disunity and war are the preferred condition of Middle Eastern peoples.

You do not currently have access to this content.