Child Welfare League promotes anti-Arab remarks

Please contact the CWLA and demand that they acknowledge the harm and offense caused by Mr. Cooper’s remarks
Bigoted and insulting remarks against Arabs were a major feature of Matthew Cooper’s routine at the “Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest” which the Child Welfare League of America hosted on 11/11/98.
Mr. Cooper, who is the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief for Newsweek magazine, included the following in his act:
“(Imitating a reporter): Mr. President, how are we going to contain Saddam Hussein?”
“(Imitating President Clinton): You know, we’ve got to help and reach out to the Iraqi people so that they can help us all compete and win in the 21st century. You know, the Iraqi people have enormous skills. If I can just interject a personal note, there was a large Iraqi community back in Arkansas where I grew up. Actually, Hot Springs and Baghdad are sister cities. And I had an Iraqi neighbor growing up, Al-Ahk-Ahk-Akh-Bakh (makes choking sounds). And he would give you the towel off his head. They are a marvelous people and they have enormous skills. Not just in creating weapons of mass destruction, but in terms of baba ghanoush, humos, and of course, carpets. So we’ve got to find a way to reach out and include all of them.”
These remarks were greeted with howls of laughter from the audience. For this cruel and crude ethnic “humor,” Mr. Cooper was awarded the first place prize in the competition. ADC wonders whether such a prize would have been forthcoming had Mr. Cooper joked about African Americans having skills in terms of fried chicken and watermelon.
In a letter to David Liederman, Executive Director of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), ADC President Hala Maksoud questioned whether it is really to the benefit of children anywhere for CWLA to promote this kind of hateful and mean spirited ethnic denigration. Such jokes are hardly consistent with the first point of the CWLA Mission Statement: “Every child and every youth has value to society.” One of the goals outlined in the CWLA Mission Statement is “To ensure that all child welfare services are provided in a manner that demonstrates respect for the cultural and ethnic diversity of our neighborhoods and our nation.” Is giving a platform and a prize to Matt Cooper’s bigoted anti-Arab jokes consistent with this commitment to respect for diversity?

The Child Welfare League of America owes the Arab American community a formal and public apology for hosting an event which featured such unconscionable racism, and then rewarding it with a prize.
Please contact the CWLA and demand that they acknowledge the harm and offense caused by Mr. Cooper’s remarks at the “Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest” and apologize for promoting such bigotry.
Please send letters to:
David Liederman, Executive Director
Child Welfare League of America
440 1st st, NW 3rd Floor
Washington DC, 20001-2085
or Fax him at (202) 638-4004
or email him
Please cc any letters or emails to ADC.

Scroll to Top