NEWSPAPER ARTICLE REPRINT AND UPDATE
The American Ali Baba: George W. Bush & His 40 Thieves
by Dr. Alex Shami, Author House Press, Indiana, published in 2004
In “The American Ali Baba,” Shami accomplishes three rare things. (1) He draws on the roots of Arabic folk culture, comparing George W. Bush to the mythical thief, Ali Baba, (2) analyzes, from a Lebanese perspective, the Bush agenda critically and historically with a primer to the identities and histories of major Bush neo-cons like Donald Rumsfeld who predated, then surrounded, and now continue to echo the Bush presidency, and (3) reminds the reader, from the perspective of a Lebanese native now living in America, of the many Americans, like Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, who’ve fought for justice both before Bush and now.
“American Ali Baba” has nine chapters. The first retells the ancient tale of Ali Baba, a modest Baghdad wood gatherer who discovers a cave full of treasure horded by a gang of thieves. Ali Baba steals from these thieves, is discovered and nearly murdered by them, and with the help of his companion, Morgiana, succeeds in killing them and taking their ill-gotten treasure. He protects his wealth by passing on to his descendants the secret of gaining access to the cave: the magic words, “open sesame.”
Another section, “The American Ali Baba - George W. Bush,” compares what Shami calls “the greed, lies, and deception in the ancient tale of Ali Baba” to the corruption of the then Thief-in-Chief, George W., who also benefitted from the stolen loot of prior thieves without having worked for it himself.
“The reason I wrote this book,” said Shami when I interviewed him, “Is because I feel Bush is playing strange politics. I call him the ‘American Ali Baba’ ironically. He is heavily involved in religion, yet I can’t really freely practice Islam, my own religion. He’s stealing my right to practice my beliefs, stealing my freedom of speech, putting lots of Arab-American and other citizens into prison under his policy of ‘secret evidence.”
The most enlightening section of this book is chapter six, “His 40 Thieves,” a primer with small but detailed histories of the rouges’ gallery of ‘thieves’ such as Paul Woolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and Karl Rove, who in Shami’s words, are “those individuals who tarnish and erode the rights of all Americans and tarnish world opinion of this great nation.”
Chapter six exposes the web of nepotism and conspiracy between these thieves dating as far back as the 1980’s. Says Shami: “In the process of furthering their dark agendas, they usurp power, stripping Americans of their rights, natural resources, jobs, respect as a nation, and international admiration. This is thievery of the most severe order.”
Shami not only offers a history of Bush’s thieves. His book also offers an optimistic vision, long before Obama appeared on the presidential horizon, of what America was meant to be, and what it could still become for its ethnic citizens. In the chapter, “Early American Perspectives” he provides eye-opening quotes from early American leaders like James Madison and George Washington who both warned of dangerous times like those Americans have faced since 911.
An independent politically, Shami has served on the board of the Dearborn Department of Libraries and on the Board of Trustees of Henry Ford Community College. He has run for Dearborn City Council as an independent, and has run for state office. Like many immigrants, Shami seems to value American democracy even more than some native born Americans.
“I am Lebanese,” he says. “But I am American, I am a Dearborn citizen. Like America itself, every inch of Dearborn is Dearborn. Every citizen is a citizen, whether they are ethnic, newcomer, senior, or not, we are all Americans. I see value in the Republican Party, but I am in trouble with the Republican Party. I’m a Democrat who often runs as an independent. But that’s what Democracy means.”
Though "The American Ali Baba" was published some time ago, and though Bush has passed out of our nightmares since this interview was done, Shami's book still stands as an articulate indictment of the Bush years, a shrewd analysis of Bush's crimes against Islam, and an imaginative glimpse into Arabic mythology and ancient Arab narrative symbolism.
For all those reasons, Alex Shami is a "Race Man" in the old school tradition and in the old school Hadith.
Author House Press can be reached at 800-839-8640; or books can be ordered directly from the author at 313-943-4000, ext. 4020