Widespread Crime and the Calculations of Politicians

Why is the Yemeni "merchant" being targeted in the United States of America?
Dr. Ameen Nouisser
May 15, 2023

Widespread Crime and the Calculations of Politicians

Why is the Yemeni "merchant" being targeted in the United States of America?
Dr. Ameen Nouisser
May 15, 2023

Acknowledgment of the role

No one may ignore or deny the vital and humanitarian role played by Yemeni immigrants in the United States, especially businessmen (traders). This is clearly evident through their unlimited support for their families and local communities inside Yemen during the eight years of war, in which life and business stopped moving in view of the spread of unemployment, and salaries were halted all over the entire Yemeni governorates (in the countryside and cities). Their contributions are well-known, whether through financial remittances or donations, in cash or in kind, and even their contribution to the construction of infrastructure and social services in their homelands, as well as sponsoring various charitable projects that pervaded Yemen in the absence of the role of the state.

Is the problem with the Trader?

I am not wrong to say that Yemeni immigrants have now become a relatively growing part of the diverse mosaic of American society in which they live, whether as individuals or as families with average if not modest levels of education and limited resources. Given that most of them work in trading, they are exposed to criminal acts sometimes from some elements outside the law.

What is striking, however, is the insistence of some that Yemeni merchants are the only ones responsible for the killing, looting, vandalism, and tampering with their shops and workplaces, which are subject to attacks. Secondly, the strangest thing is that some attribute the reason behind that to the merchants themselves as their stores happened to selected in dangerous areas, as if they had more than one choice, on top of which were the financial capabilities and the flexibility of movement. Noting that most Yemenis own little capital for small shops, most of which are dominated by the partnership system that is not subject to expansion, or is subject to legal documentation, and is based on prudent trust covenants, due to the speed of sharing profits on a monthly or quarterly basis, and rarely on an annual basis.

What is worse than that - and it is the third wired thing – is that some merchants are accusing each other of illegal trading of banned products, which are basically legal in American society.

These criminal attacks are not limited to Yemeni merchants or shop owners, but rather target most of the people of other communities such as Indians, Latinos, and some Americans who also work in similar stores.

The truth is that this last one contains a religious dimension in its bowels, as if those who do not trade in it have escaped accountability, and they are far from the acts of killing, looting and robbing by force. That is why they advise and preach others to stay away from it, but the preachers themselves fall victim to murder and plunder from time to time. Especially since they also deal in and store money, which in and of itself is the main target of the outlaws, because the aggressor does not ask about the nationality or religion, and does not care about the color of the victim.

However, despite the fact that these commodities - from a purely economic point of view - are merchandises that are traded legally, as long as there is a demand for them in a country where freedom of trade and competition prevails, the trader has the right to choose, because he and no one else decides for himself which goods should be traded, especially since the goal of trade is profit. Therefore, as long as the trader adheres to the laws of the country in running his business and does not violate them, and pays the taxes honestly, he is safe from accountability when expanding and developing his business, bearing in mind that the American legislator did not criminalize trading in these commodities. Thus, if this trader does not sell them, then the other competing traders will do, regardless of their nationality; an American or Mexican, Indian, Chinese or other traders aiming for profit.

In economics, and in the business world there is a fact that no difference between a dollar earned from selling smoke or its derivatives, and another dollar from selling milk or its derivatives. 

Why they are targeted?

As a prelude to answering this question, it can be said that the Yemeni shops and commercial points are characterized by their small sizes, and sometimes of being in dangerous locations, as well as their competition with each other, and the proximity of their stores to cities, in addition to the fact that the number of workers in most of their stores is less than what is supposed to be in order to reduce expenses and increase or maximize profits. Besides, some Yemeni shops operate twenty-four hours a day, and some of them do not close their doors until late in unsafe or remote areas. Therefore, it is easy for gangs to single them out and attack them, which makes them potential targets - especially in light of the lack of awareness of the information and safety measures of dealing - in cases of facing dangerous situations, despite the presence of surveillance cameras in most of their places.

In any case, these criminal attacks are not limited to Yemeni merchants or shop owners, but rather to most members of other emigrating communities, such as Indians, Latinos, and some Americans who work in similar stores. 

However, this article is meant to focus on what is happening to the Yemenis only because their voices are raised among the community, while the Yemenis may not watch the news about the victims of the attacks that affect the people of other communities, and if they hear about it, they do not circulate it as information, because it may not be interesting to them. Besides, they do not read websites and newspapers because of their poor knowledge of the English language, so they do not understand their language because of their limited relations with other communities.

What is bothering the Yemeni commercial community today are those unbridled criminal acts that target some of them, which must be responsibly addressed. These illegal acts are not only due to security chaos, but tangible security laxity a fortiori, which the commercial community, including the Yemeni one, in many cities fell victim to it.

As a matter of fact, these incidents are not recent, and they always used to occur in various cities, especially the major ones, such as New York, Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, Detroit, and in many states settled by Yemenis. And for clarification; those accidents, in terms of their frequency, were proportional to the number of shops, but the difference now is the remarkable increase in the number of shops. For example, most of the shops selling tobacco and its derivatives in some major states are owned by Yemenis. Moreover, in the past it was not easy to learn about any incident until days - if not weeks - of its occurrence. On the contrary, at the present time, news spread at a breakneck speed, which is a force factor for the immediate circulation of news of murder, robbery and incursions as they occur, due to the rapid development of mass media and social communication means.

Economic problem and crime

Our awareness of the dire consequences of the randomness of individual violence towards shops cannot, in any way, distract us from correcting the research into the background of the social problem of some individuals or groups of society or the population in order to understand and closely identify their behavior and way of thinking. Especially that segment in turn led to the exacerbation of these criminal acts, which always disturb the rapidly developing American society, and what accompanied the phenomenon of its development and the backwardness of societal segments in itself who did not keep pace with the rhythm of progress. As a result, they were left on the margins behind those developments for social reasons, rather than historical ones, that are rooted and renewed, intertwined in the interlinking of their relationships.

The social problem and the feeling of inferiority and marginalization, in addition to the rampant unemployment among some deprived groups of the US society, who live in a capitalist consumer environment based on absolute individualism and excessive consumerism, in light of their poverty and dependence on government aid programs, generates a feeling of deprivation, and criminal tendencies associated with hopeless frustration among some members of these minority groups. Perhaps this has been the key drive behind the increasing crimes committed using various methods, especially in times of economic crises and social unrest, or where state presence and aids are not available, or with the approaching of occasions or holidays coinciding with the lack or scarcity of individual income. It really a limited group that seeks, by any means, to maintain a certain economic level, and satisfying its consumer needs in any way.

In other words, its economic problem is that it has multiple and renewable needs, but it does not possess the resources with which to satisfy those needs, and it does not find a solution to provide them except through armed acts which may be committed during the day or at night.

This behavior stems from the narrow mentality of choices that, due to its shortsightedness, and due to its poor level of education, views the others as have been forcibly monopolized jobs, and have become living at the expense of the happiness of that group, or because it believes that its unhappiness is due to the success of others.

These are flimsy arguments that are not based on logic, and which the American society considers necessary to address in order to change that behavior and for the authorities to find radical solutions, represented in how to contain this segment in the educational system and rehabilitate it, and ensure that it does not drop out of it and then integrate it into the American labor market through various means; improving their level of education, training, and living conditions. Moreover, the American state has to fulfill its responsibilities, by focusing on education, providing aid and incentives that promote hope, and providing opportunities to address and lift the grievance of historical injustice for those segments of society, which need intensive, targeted and medium-term programs.

Crime, security laxity, and political gain

What is bothering the Yemeni commercial community today are those uncontrolled criminal acts that target some of them, which must be responsibly addressed. Hence, these crimes are not only represented by security chaos, but by tangible security laxity a fortiori, which the commercial community, including the Yemeni one, in many cities fell victim to it. In fact, it is due to the conflict between the police services, whose supremacy have been crippled due to the reduction of their operating budgets which impacted the efficiency of performing its duties under the cover of a protest campaign (Black Lives Matter) or other arguments of social grievance or dormant racism that sometimes awakens. On the other hands, the politicians see there is a need to correct the historical social injustice of marginalized minorities from the segments of American society, but for the purpose of achieving political gain at the expense of reducing the powers of the police; This led to the laxity of its security apparatus and the slowdown in its response to deterrence when crime occurred, and the consequent relative spread of crime, and this is the main defect that currently exists in most major American cities.

Accordingly, there is an urgent need to remedy the imbalance and eliminate the conflict of interests by supporting the police in all areas where their powers and budgets have been reduced, since the police is the first front line in combating crime. The police want to play their assigned role without accountability, politicians seek re-election, and merchants aim to maximize their profits and protect their businesses. This in itself will only come through coordination and pressure on politicians to fix this security imbalance, and to meet in the middle of the road to resolve conflicts of intersecting interests of the various actors, in a way that ensures that the police can perform their duties, politicians are elected, protect merchants by providing a safe environment, and prevent and address criminal incidents, or at least contributing to avoiding them by deploying security patrols and monitoring and adopting early alerting systems for crimes before it occur.

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