How Not to Be a Georgia Peach: Call Refugee and Activist ‘Terrorist’
Sehar Hekmati, an Afghan refugee and Republican party activist, is suing Georgia GOP officials for defamation after being called a “terrorist” and a “felon.”
Sigh. Stay classy, Georgia.
The lawsuit was filed last week against three women, two of whom were Henry County, Georgia Republican officials. Those two are Eleanor Smith and Vicki Temple of the Republican Women of Henry County. Even though Hekmati has lived in the United States for more than 10 years and has been an active and dedicated Republican party member doesn’t mean she’s…worthy of respect, I guess?
I have to be honest here. I think the news stories on this event are burying the lede. This is a female, Afghan refugee who is into Republican party politics. What is happening? My world view is crashing down around me! Help!
I kid, of course. Hekmati is clearly no slouch. In fact, her district nominated her to be a delegate at the Republican National Convention! Even my bleeding heart thinks that’s pretty cool. But, evidently, some people are appealing that move and verbal attacks against Hekmati are escalating.
There is a part of me that thinks, ‘Well, people involved in politics can be jerks. Maybe these people are just being jerks.’ But it seems that there are definite racial overtones. As reported in The Raw Story, Smith was a supporter of Newt “Moonbase” Gingrich, the man who compared supporting the Ground Zero Mosque to Nazis. Temple appears to be a supporter of Herman “Pokemon” Cain, who thinks the majority of Muslims hold “extremist views.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the alleged “terrorist” and “felon” remarks were racially motivated. At least, not consciously, but it’s also not an unreasonable conclusion to draw. I simply can’t believe that calling an Afghan refugee a terrorist was not meant to evoke post 9-11 Islamophobia. It is, at best, an unbelievable thoughtless comment and an example of privilege at work. At worst, it’s flagrant racism.
Whatever it is, I think we can all agree that it was a wicked stupid thing to say. Hekmati was accused of being things she isn’t. She isn’t a terrorist. She isn’t a felon. This is enough to bring a defamation case in Georgia. For the case, the motivations of the defendants doesn’t really matter. But if we as Americans are interested in making the world a better place, maybe it’s time to take a good, long look into the depths of our souls and figure some stuff out.
Image credit: Meneer Zjeroen