The wheels of our plane touched the asphalt of LAX on the night of December 13, 1978, and I stepped out, only to drown in that vast ocean called America. I am an Iraqi Christian immigrant, born in Baghdad, although earlier generations from both sides of my family came from the smaller towns in northern Iraq. We came to America before hummus was Americanized and sold in every grocery store, before the “Mediterranean” diet become a fad, and before fast-food restaurants started selling pita pocket sandwiches. But for all this, there is still a wide gap in the American understanding of the Arab world and of Arab Christians in particular.
I’ve got a dog in this fight, as the American idiom goes. After all, my ancestors are from Mosul, and are a mixture of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians dating back to who knows when.
The Arab-Christian immigrants in America are a motley crew of Iraqis, Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Egyptians. And as a product of that Arab-Christian immigrant sub-culture and in light of the Sen. Ted Cruz fiasco of last week I thought it was time for a fairly Americanized Arab Christian to point out an issue previously overlooked. (And when I say Americanized, I mean all the way. I am for our country supporting Israel and I happen to care a great deal for the well-being of the Jewish people, here and abroad. As a Catholic I am called to love my neighbor, this means all of them—no matter their ethnicity or economic status.)
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