By Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal
Now that you have launched your campaign for a second term, I expect you will soon come to the same location in Chicago where we first met in that summer of hope, in the rush of a hype that promised to change the course of history. My own life did change that year, as I entered Harvard and voted for the first time in my life. That act of voting, like all things one does for the first time, was a precious experience for me. As an adult citizen of the United States of American who was born to an immigrant family, I dreamed big dreams, following your rise to a position that no black man could have dreamt even a generation ago. I am hoping to meet you again, but know that both of us are changed men. You have become, by now, a symbol of power and authority of the most powerful nation of this world and I have matured into a young Harvard student whose future looks exceedingly bleak. I harbor no hope in my heart, just like millions of other young Americans whose imagination your electrifying campaign of two years ago had ignited and who now carry the amber of that bitter experience in their dead souls. We have been betrayed, dear President Obama; you have not only killed our hopes, but you have also filled our lives with a darkness that we do not know how to dispel.
I know it is of no consequence to you, riding a wave of big successes as you are in the wake of assassination carried out by your orders of a man who has been pitched to Americans as evil incarnate. I also note that you have already made the fatal speech which every US President has made since 1948 at the altar of AIPAC and you have said what every US President has said since then: Israel’s security is “sacrosanct” and “non-negotiable”. So, I must admit that you are doing pretty well, despite the inconsequential media hype about the chastisement you recently received from Benjamin Netanyahu.
The only reason for this letter is that I know that even at the height of your glory and power, you are still going to return to that Chicago riding where we first met and you are still going to ask me for my vote, or at least you will pretend that you need my vote. You will tell me, and millions of other young Americans who saw a glimmer of hope in that summer two years ago, that we still count. This pretention, on which the entire edifice of American political system is built, is now no more than a naked allusion and anyone with an iota of deductive knowledge knows it to be the greatest farce on earth. My generation has been forced to become wise before mature age; we no longer harbor false hopes and as a result have gained the strength to stare into the bleak future that awaits us.
Torture, Mr. Obama, is something we all abhor and torture is what you have sanctioned. Torture of human beings whom no court of justice has yet declared criminals. You have officially sanctioned it by your orders; this has doomed America on moral grounds. You promised to close down that American heart of darkness during your election campaign, but on March 7, 2011, you signed an executive order, reversing your own policy. The order to resumes military trials for Gitmo detainees will be one of the darkest deeds written in your record forever. But this is not enough.
What particularly bothers me, and millions of other young men and women of this country, is the daily dose of darkness that oozes out of the White House and fills our lives. Around the world, America remains the most hated country and you have become a symbol of sophisticated hypocrisy for billions—mark my words—for billions of human beings who saw or read your Cairo speech and harbored a sense of hope in their hearts, you have become a symbol of despair despite your golden words which we all know now to be false. You ignored the popular uprising against Ben Ali, only joined in the international farcical chorus of contempt for Mubarak when he was on his way out, and you are still to produce a meaningful murmur against the Syrian regime which has killed more of its people than any other autocratic regime since this strange Arab spring began.
Of course you are going after that mad man called Gaddafi, but make no mistake, we all know this game plan: you go and destroy the entire infra-structure of the country, somehow take that man out, install your own men in power, then send in American companies to rebuilt the country, sell arms worth billions of dollars and be happy ever after. Of course, you will have to share this pie with the Europeans, but Libyan oil is enough to cover both sides.
I understand all of this, and so do millions of other young men and women of my generation from around the world. We also know that our understanding is inconsequential to the actual state of the world: we can make no difference whatsoever. There are no rules left for anything, the so-called international law stands null and void: A head of state is a target of cold blooded murder and assassination by another head of state, even petty tugs on our Chicago streets have better moral standards.
My heart cries for the Afghan children you have killed recently. I say “you”, because as the Commander-in-Chief of “our” armed forces, you are directly responsible for these crimes of war and while I know there no court of justice that is going to have the gut to try you here on earth, but I carry a faith stronger than the mountains which tells me that justice will catch up with you, either here or in the Hereafter.
Yes, you have guessed right: I am a Muslim, born in a Chicago suburb to a family which came to the United States of America in hope of a brighter life. They, instead, found darkness that now engulfs them from all sides, even though one of their sons has entered Harvard and the other is a successful physician. I do not think I will come to hear you when you come to Chicago on your election campaign but want you to remember: there is a verdict of history that awaits all men who rise to power and that verdict has already been passed against you.