Arab Americans in a Political Year

Article excerpt

An ADC panel focusing on Arab-American voters in the upcoming elections was intentionally controversial and thought-provoking. Martin J. Dunleavy, director of the National Democratic Ethnic Leadership Council, had harsh things to say to Arab Americans that he said he told all hyphenated Americans. His leadership council was formed in 2003 to conduct outreach and education to voters with European and Mediterranean ethnic identities.

According to Dunleavy, hyphenated Americans acted in similar ways when they came to the United States. Most became entrepreneurs, he pointed out: Italian immigrants worked in construction, Irish in politics, Polish-, Russian-, and Greek- and Arab-Americans specialized in small businesses, regardless of their religious backgrounds. Each community educated their children and joined a local church, temple or mosque. Next they began to intermarry and become upwardly mobile, becoming homogenized Americans. This diluted their communities and diversified their voting patterns.

This typical model is showing a radical shift since 9/11, Dunleavy said. Arab- and Muslim- American voters are finding it difficult to vote on the basis of economic issues when their civil liberties are challenged. As they are targeted because of their names or dark skin they are unifying to protect themselves. …