What was the point of reciting this poem, which is an extended whine about how her dignified grandmother is looked down upon by the filthy kuffar (who don’t wash their feet five times a day) for washing her feet in the Sears bathroom sink? The point is clear: 9/11 happened because two cultures don’t understand each other. Westerners have to stop regarding Muslims with distaste and disdain, and accommodate Muslim practices, and then harmony will ensue.
This is the usual point made in school 9/11 observances, but it is precisely the wrong one to make, since no amount of Western accommodation will blunt the force of the Islamic supremacist imperative. The call to fight against the “People of the Book” until they pay the jizya and submit to the Muslims (Qur’an 9:29) is not canceled if the People of the Book are accommodating of Muslim practices. The point that should be made, but is not being made in Concord-Carlyle School or any other school, is that 9/11 was an act of jihad, and that that jihad is still raging, and that Americans and all free people need to defend themselves.
Here’s the poem (via Wicked Local Concord):
My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears
By Mohja Kahf
My grandmother puts her feet in the sink
of the bathroom at Sears
to wash them in the ritual washing for prayer,
because she has to pray in the store or miss
the mandatory prayer time for Muslims
She does it with great poise, balancing
herself with one plump matronly arm
against the automated hot-air hand dryer,
after having removed her support knee-highs
and laid them aside, folded in thirds,
and given me her purse and her packages to hold
so she can accomplish this august ritual
and get back to the ritual of shopping for housewares
Respectable Sears matrons shake their heads and frown
as they notice what my grandmother is doing,
an affront to American porcelain,
a contamination of American Standards
by something foreign and unhygienic
requiring civic action and possible use of disinfectant spray
They fluster about and flutter their hands and I can see
a clash of civilizations brewing in the Sears bathroom
My grandmother, though she speaks no English,
catches their meaning and her look in the mirror says,
I have washed my feet over Iznik tile in Istanbul
with water from the world’s ancient irrigation systems
I have washed my feet in the bathhouses of Damascus
over painted bowls imported from China
among the best families of Aleppo
And if you Americans knew anything
about civilization and cleanliness,
you’d make wider washbins, anyway
My grandmother knows one culture””the right one,
as do these matrons of the Middle West. For them,
my grandmother might as well have been squatting
in the mud over a rusty tin in vaguely tropical squalor,
Mexican or Middle Eastern, it doesn’t matter which,
when she lifts her well-groomed foot and puts it over the edge.
“You can’t do that,” one of the women protests,
turning to me, “Tell her she can’t do that.”
“We wash our feet five times a day,”
my grandmother declares hotly in Arabic.
“My feet are cleaner than their sink.
Worried about their sink, are they? I
should worry about my feet!”
My grandmother nudges me, “Go on, tell them.”
Standing between the door and the mirror, I can see
at multiple angles, my grandmother and the other shoppers,
all of them decent and goodhearted women, diligent
in cleanliness, grooming, and decorum
Even now my grandmother, not to be rushed,
is delicately drying her pumps with tissues from her purse
For my grandmother always wears well-turned pumps
that match her purse, I think in case someone
from one of the best families of Aleppo
should run into her””here, in front of the Kenmore display
I smile at the midwestern women
as if my grandmother has just said something lovely about them
and shrug at my grandmother as if they
had just apologized through me
No one is fooled, but I
hold the door open for everyone
and we all emerge on the sales floor
and lose ourselves in the great common ground
of housewares on markdown.
“Concord-Carlisle principal apologizes about 9/11 remembrance,” by Kimberly A. Hooper for
Wicked Local Concord, September 12 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Principal Peter Badalament released a statement Thursday explaining the school’s reasoning behind reciting a poem about a Muslim ritual and not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance during Wednesday”s observance of the 12th anniversary of Sept 11.
“We had the well-being of students at the forefront of our thinking when we chose to acknowledge 9/11 by reading a poem that focused on cross-cultural understanding rather than unsettling words and images associated with the event,” Badalament said.
According to Badalament, the poem “My Grandmother Washes her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears,” written by Mohja Kahf, was read over the school’s intercom on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
He said several parents have said they are upset about the poem being read and added that a rumor is going around that this poem was a “Muslim prayer.”
“To be clear it was not,” he not.
According to the Poetry Foundation, an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture, Kahf was born in Damascus, Syria and her family moved to the United States in 1971. She earned her Ph..D. in comparative literature from Rutgers University.
The Poetry Foundation said that Kahf’s poetry is an “amalgam of both Syrian and American influences.”
The poem is about Kahf’s grandmother washing her feet in the sink of the bathroom at Sears department store so she would not miss the mandatory prayer time for Muslims.
Badalament said in addition to receiving calls about the poem, he also received calls from unhappy parents about the Pledge of Allegiance not being recited on Wednesday. Badalament said the pledge is read every day at CCHS and because yesterday was the first Wednesday of the school year, the school was unaware that its student pledge reader had an internship commitment that day and couldn’t recite the pledge.
“This was our responsibility to know,” he said. “We humbly apologize that this oversight and communication gap occurred.”
Student pledge reader? What is this, an ordained ministry? No one else could be found who could read it?
He continued to say the school will integrate the feedback it has been offered into its future work with students.
“We remain committed to integrating an inclusive and positive culture for all members of the school community,” Badalament said.
Especially members of today’s most fashionable victim community.