Sunday, July 06, 2008

COMMENT: Obama's not-Muslim obsession

Here's an awfully silly, immature and almost racist joke ...

What did Hillary say when she found out she lost the final vote in Democratic Party primaries? "Oh bummer!"

Yes, I admit this is exceptionally lame. Poking fun at people's names is as bad as casting aspersions on their religion. Or casting aspersions on the religions of others.

Which makes me wonder why Barack Obama is so-damned intent on keeping away from Muslim American voters. Isn't he aware that some of these voters delivered victory to George W Bush in 2000? And what does it say about the allegedly inclusive America he wants to lead? Does Obama's view of social inclusion have its limits?

Ethnic and religious minorities across America are asking these questions. Is Obama's idea of inclusion limited by the types of exclusion practised by his political enemies? If neo-Cons despise a particular group, will Obama avoid that group in an effort to avoid being labelled by his political enemies?

Or is this an issue of past ghosts coming back to haunt? Many neo-Con writers such as Ann Coulter express hatred for anything related to Islam more because of their past relationships with Muslims than anything else. Mark Steyn also fits into this category. Barack Obama has perhaps better reason to resent Islam if he associates it with his father and step-father.

Whatever the reason, Obama's reluctance to embrace voters of all backgrounds is beginning to worry members of a range of minority groups. Writing in the Detroit Free Press, Jewish-American writer Emily Hauser expresses her discomfort with Obama ...
I am a Jewish American and an enthusiastic Barack Obama supporter. I can't tell you how much I hope he'll be our next president.

But for all my longing for change and insistence that "yes we can," there's a bee in my bonnet, a sense of real dissonance between the Obama rhetoric and the reality: the Muslim thing.

Not the idea that he might be one. No, what has me so bothered is that an American presidential candidate acts as if the word "Muslim" were a slur. And according to recent reports, the Muslim community is feeling the sting, too ...

... the campaign discusses, endlessly, the candidate's Christianity; the third item on its "Fight the Smears" Web site reads: "Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim." Months ago, Michelle Obama characterized references to her husband's middle name, Hussein, a "fear bomb," and recently, two Muslim women were kept from standing behind him at a rally.

Honestly, there's something noxious in all this - as if Obama isn't proudly declaring his own faith, but running as fast as he can from the other ...

I wish that rather than hand out pamphlets declaring him a "committed Christian," Obama had held a prayer breakfast with an Imam; rather than trumpet his own faith, he'd found some praise for that of 1 billion Muslims around the globe.

Or, in the words of Keith Ellison, a Muslim and a congressman from Minnesota: "A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim."

In his "Yes We Can" speech, Obama echoed a powerful Jewish notion: tikkun olam, repairing the world -- an idea that embraces not just the physical world, but the people in it, and our relationships.

To my mind, it would be a real step toward repairing the world if Obama were now to consider an equally powerful, Muslim concept: "Allah will put friendship between you and those who have been your enemies. Allah is mighty, forgiving, and merciful."

Obama's campaign team would do well to read and take note of Hauser's sentiments. His attempts to distance himself with one unpopular minority could land him in trouble with other potentially unpopular minorities.
UPDATE I: You can read more about Obama's Muslim problem at here.

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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Anonymous said...

Senator Obama is NOT a Dirty Muslim!

"What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge," says Mr. Obama, while denouncing statements of him being a Muslim as a smear. Why is the presidential candidate who claims to be religiously inclusive is treating the word "Muslim" as an insult? Apparently, it is OK for Mr. Obama to be associated with terrorists like William Ayers or racists like Jeremiah Wright, but God forbid somebody would call him a Muslim! No, he won't stand for that kind of smear! We admit that most terrorists are Muslims, but most Muslims are not terrorists and the statement on Mr. Obama's website is insulting to hundreds of millions of people.

How could a man who discards his family heritage in favor of political expediency be even considered for presidency of the United States? Where are all the so-called "Islamic civil rights groups" like CAIR, MPAC, ISNA, MAS, etc. who are quick to defend every Islamic terrorist, but are silent when Muslims in general are being denigrated? Would Mr. Obama have the same reaction if someone claimed that he was raised as a Jew? We sincerely doubt that.

"In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." Barack Obama, "The Audacity of Hope", page 261.

Well, the political winds did shift in an ugly direction. Is equating "Muslim" with "smear" Obama's idea of "stand[ing] with [Muslims]?

Muslims Against Sharia demand immediate removal of "SMEAR: Barack Obama is a Muslim" statement from the official Barack Obama's website as well as an apology for giving the word "Muslim" a negative connotation.

Obama changes "SMEAR: Barack Obama is a Muslim" to "SMEAR: Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim" as well as removes his pledge not to use religion as a wedge from site's header.

Anonymous said...

"Islamic terrorist" - isn't that a contradiction in terms? Woops, I forgot. MAS is a body which worships Daniel Pipes!