Chris and Christine
I haven’t posted in far too long, and don’t have time today, but this story called to be written, and I just couldn’t keep from writing it any longer. It was inspired by two great Rabbis, who taught me much about both Judaism and life. Thank you!
This story is completely fictional. It has no connections to events happening either in reality or in any other historical or religious stories you may know. Any connections you make are YOUR choice.
This is a long story. Read as much as you want.
Once, there was a Syrian refugee named Mohammed who, together with his niece Fatima (her parents died), hoped to get into the United States of America and live a quiet, happy, and successful life. He had a friend who knew someone who may have had a connection who was willing to get them in, but only to a small rural American town in the deep South. To be less conspicuous and avoid any hatred, it was suggested to them that they take on American names and pretend to be Christian. And so, Chris and Christine being the most Christian names Mohammed could think of, the two moved to Smallville, USA and began trying to fit into American life. It wasn’t easy for them: Mohammed couldn’t even bring up the fact that he had had a law degree, and so found a job as a security guard. Fatima had trouble fitting in at first, so her uncle enrolled her in modelling classes, elocution classes, theatre, ballet, and anything else that would help her look, act and sound more American. Eventually, she became quite successful and, much to her uncle’s dismay, started entering beauty contests. She won one after another.
Meanwhile, the President of the United States was having Public Relations challenges. He had gotten elected on a “make America safe for Americans” mandate, and so far, the streets were anything but safe. Some people blamed refugees, claiming they were all terrorists, and some people blamed right-wingers, claiming they were all racists, and some people blamed Jews, because hey, why not, it’s always worked before, but everyone blamed the president. He held press conference after press conference, hoping that if he gave the media enough cocktails, they’d say nice things about him. At one point, when there was a journalist who started saying something about ‘family values’, he called out his wife to come and join him at the conference. She refused, being busy with a rally to support Indigenous women. The president was rather embarrassed.
His trusted advisor and (very right) right hand man, General Smith-Wesson, recommended he divorce her. Although her left-leaning attitudes had made her a good counterbalance to the President and brought in some of the softer party faithful, at this point, she was a PR nightmare. “And sir,” the general pointed out, “this doesn’t reflect just on you…the entire party looks bad, as if we support her crazy ideas and projects.” The marriage had been one of convenience in the first place, so the President had no problem letting his wife go and looking for someone else. General Smith-Wesson suggested someone popular, who could be a PR asset, but not someone who would try to play politics. Maybe a beauty contest winner?
And so, one thing led to another, and Christine, who had just won Miss America, and whose record ‘looked good’ on paper (it’s amazing how good those faked passports were – the CIA declared she was clean) became the First Lady of the United States. Chris, with a recommendation from her and his former job had no problem getting a security guard position at the White House, where he could continue to keep an eye on his niece. The two of them relaxed, just a little. While they still attended church and kept up the ‘fake Christian’ act, they would occasionally call each other by their actual names when in private, and Chris would quietly stand still and say his prayers, in his head only, 5 times a day as he had been taught.
Chris was conflicted about America – on the one hand, their life was great: safe, wealthy, much better than it would have been elsewhere. On the other hand, they were living a lie, and true Muslims were finding it much harder than he had. When he got an invitation from a terrorist group (who were much better than the CIA at figuring out who was who) to participate in a plot against the president, it was a moment before he could realize he could never be part of terrorism. Quickly, he texted Christine, who told her husband and the plot against the president was foiled. The President did warn his wife sternly to stay out of politics and go through proper channels.
General Smith-Wesson made a point of getting to know all the security guards in the White House, and was a little annoyed at the cold shoulder he always seemed to get from Chris. Every now and then, Chris seemed to retreat in his own head, and wouldn’t even talk with the general. Not that security guards were supposed to, necessarily, but all the other ones did. He nosed around and found out from someone who had overheard someone that Chris was Muslim! This explained everything! Terrorists were infiltrating the White House! Something had to be done…
The General went to see the President and got his support for a law that would finally deal with the issue of Islam once and for all. It would be declared a cult, all Mosques would be repurposed as community centres, and any Muslim who didn’t have valid papers showing American citizenship from birth would be deported. And, General Smith-Wesson, assured the president, his campaign contributions to the president’s re-election, and those from all the companies and affiliates that the Smith-Wesson empire controlled would of course continue to flow smoothly. In this way, they would truly ‘make America safe for Americans’. People were scared and so the law was fast-tracked.
When Chris heard of this, he went straight to his niece. Christine didn’t see what she could do! She was a wife, and had no standing. She had been told to stay out of politics, after all. She could lose everything! Further, why should she have any affiliation to the Muslim people after all? Hadn’t she been living as a Christian all her life? Her name was Christine, for goodness sakes! She was Miss America and First Lady! Maybe General Smith-Wesson had a point – there sure were a lot of Muslim terrorists… Eventually, Chris convinced her that she had to act. Allowing this travesty would be wrong – and regardless of religion, their family did the right thing. The First Lady frowned and thought about how she could say something in a way that would make a difference, rather than just getting her deported.
She decided on a series of private dinner parties (televised by a party camera-man) to raise money for the president’s ‘Back to Basics Education’ initiative. She made sure that the President and General Smith-Wesson had invites to them all. She was well-spoken, looked good, and served well. Her parties were successful, and their very exclusivity made them even more popular. The President hadn’t looked so good for some time.
General Smith-Wesson was ecstatic. This was the right stuff – with the popularity he was getting, he saw himself becoming vice president, and maybe even president someday. Anything was possible, right? The only thing that still bothered him was that Muslim security guard. If only he could get that guard removed, everything would be better – safer for everyone. On the advice of friends and family, he decided to get the man arrested – surely his real name wasn’t Chris, and he had probably changed it illegally. The general was sure there was something there he could get hold of. He was just going to get a warrant of arrest when he ran into the President.
The president was thrilled with his wife’s successful parties, but felt that this bordered on her infringing on his territory – and if truth be told, he was a bit jealous about her success. Hadn’t he tried something similar with the press before? He decided he would publicize something and looked through meeting minutes of various meetings to find a good source of publicity. After some searching, he stumbled on that foiled terrorist attempt. When he saw General Smith-Wesson, he asked the general how a person who actually foiled terrorism and made America safer should be honoured. The General named medals and press conferences, letters of commendation read out by important people close to the president, and the president’s own thanks, plus an honorary position at some university. The president was pleased, and told the General to ensure that such a press-conference was indeed held for the guard, Chris, and that he, the general, could read out the letter of commendation.
Immediately after this rather embarrassing press conference, for the general at least, was the final party in the First Lady’s series. The president was so pleased with the success of his conference and with the latest polls, which looked really good, that he asked the First Lady if there was, after all, a small political post she wanted. It was at this point that, with all the theatre training she had received, she whipped out a hijab, expertly put it on, and said the only post she craved was that of citizen, because if the new law was followed, she, together with many of her fellow Muslims would soon be deported. The president was aghast, and the general rushed towards Christine to try and salvage the situation. Unfortunately, the sight of her hijab unnerved him so much that he tripped and fell, bumping into Christine awkwardly.
This led the president to have him arrested on a sexual harassment suit, and interestingly, a number of people working in the White House came forward with similar suits. Meanwhile, the president told Christine sadly that he could not overturn the law, but suggested that she fight it through the courts on a constitutional challenge. Chris dusted off his law degree, saw its American ratification happen quickly as people realized he was the First Lady’s uncle, and fought brilliantly to defeat the anti-Islam law as unconstitutional.
There was much rejoicing the day the law was struck down and the names Chris and Christine were, from then on, held in positions of high esteem in the Muslim community.