Amjad Abdalla Muhammed, a/k/a "Ali," is important to me, and for more than one reason. I hope he will become important to you.
One reason is that he is a good man and a wonderful teacher, he spends every waking minute figure out how to help the refugee children – male and female – in his charge.
He is important to me because he is an encourager of the human spirit. He encourages the soccer player and the artist.
He is important to me because he is a Killer Of Lies. In the Kabbalah, my own Bible, God sent a prophet into the world, and the prophet asked him what his purpose was.
You are to be a Killer of Lies, God replied, people are susceptible to lies, you will spread the truth and kill the lies wherever you go. I've alway sloved the idea of the Lie-Killer, I liked to think that was the role of the journalist when I was one.
When I put a photograph of Ali up on the blog last week – he teaches at the Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus (RISSE) – someone sent it to his mother in Egypt.
She became alarmed at seeing his face on the Internet, and called him up in a panic and asked if he was in some kind of trouble, if he needed a lawyer. She assumed that if someone put his face out in public in America now, he must be in some sort of trouble. It took him a couple of phone calls to calm her down.
I love the story, it was funny, and Ali laughed about it, but it is also sad and revealing, it says a lot about where we are right now in our country. For a dark-skinned named Muhammed to be in the news in America, there must be trouble. Have you ever seen otherwise on the news?
Ali is a modest man, he would blanch at being called a prophet. Yet he is a killer of lies.
One lie is that all immigrants and refugees are dangerous and have come here to harm us.
Another lie is that they rob us of treasure and services and they and their families will drain us, they don't care to work.
Another is that the troubles of the world are so difficult and complex that we must turn out backs on refugee children all over the world – I think of the 55,000 children killed in the Syrian civil war and the hundreds of thousands of children wasting a way in refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East – and abandon them to their very cruel fate.
Ali gives the lie that we should abandon them in the most heartless way while claiming to be their protectors and defenders.
Ali gives the lie that we cannot alter the trajectory of people's lives, point them in healthy and positive directions use our power to do good and heal and offer sanctuary, not just fire missiles when we wish.
And perhaps the worst and most hateful lie is that these children and their brave and struggling parents will somehow undermine or damage the culture and purity of what some people think of as our white and Christian nation.
Should white people and Christians and Jews be banned and demonized because some of them – lots of them – break the law and hurt people? To me, Ali embraces American values more deeply than many Americans.
Amjad Abdalla Muhammed gives the lie that Americans are not a loving, generous and trusting people.
Although we are very different, I see myself in Ali, and him in me.
We came from humble backgrounds in foreign places. We perhaps owe our lives to people who took risks for us.
We both very much love the idea of America, and Ali, although he is too humble to say it, is the idea of America. He works hard, helps others, follows the law, does good, pays taxes, keeps his own culture, embraces ours, lives in harmony and fully embraces our most sacred values: freedom and tolerance.
Because of him, new citizens will embrace our values as well.
Ali is a patriot, he defends the very essence of America while the people who ought to know better seem to have forgotten it.
What are we supposed to be about, if not him? Who are we supposed to be, if not him?
I have not known Ali long, although I hope to know him better in the coming weeks and months, I don't think he or any human is a saint, and I don't care to cast him that way.
But that's not the point. In a sense, Ali is an American prophet he is a Killer of Lies, sent here to speak for truth.