Why say ‘nigger’ when ‘Muslim’ will do?
And that would be OK. He’s not, but I don’t get what’s so bad about being a Muslim in the first place. As the blow-up over his pastor makes obvious, he has a pastor and he is a Christian. What’s curious is that countless pundits and even voters state the ‘Obama is a Muslim’ lie as a reason not to vote for him. As if it is impossible for a Muslim to ever aspire to be President, and if being Muslim is, in itself, a bad thing. I’ve lived with, eaten with, drank with and slept with Muslims and they’re people – just as amazing and flawed as anyone else. I don’t think religion should be a requirement for elected office, and I don’t think it’s a ‘smear’ to call someone a Muslim. Unfortunately in America it is – calling someone a Muslim is now a smear. Calling Obama a Muslim is a lie, and bad on that count. There is no inherent shame in being a Muslim.
For the record, I totally support Obama and may have even converted my mother. To ISLAM – oooohhh, scary. No, I mean, to supporting him. Partly for what he represents – the future, globalization, and a progressive revival – but also for his character. When he speaks or answers questions he stops and thinks, and he gives reasoned, complex answers. Not political boilerplate. As to the fact that he’s all hot air and inspiration – an awful lot of his speeches and writing are pretty cerebral and even boring. If he was the US President I think it would do a lot to heal the rifts within the country and without. Unlike McCain, I also think his policies – especially economic – are surprisingly sensible. Seriously, McCain’s latest dumb policy is temporarily reducing the gas tax (economic folly) and his ideas aren’t actually really deep beyond him being ballsy. But I digress. I support Obama.
What I find curious is the continuous email and other campaigns seeking to portray him as a Muslim. I think his father was, but Obama is a practicing Christian. What’s curiouser and curiouser is that – in this day and age – being Muslim is in itself a slur. As in, something so bad it should preclude you – other qualifications aside – from being President of the United States. That is, to me, insidious and hurtful to the millions of totally chill Muslims in the world.
I guess Sri Lanka gives you a different perspective on the thing. You’ve got Sinhalese and Tamil extremists – and moderate Muslims. They speak both languages, go about their business, whatever. I’m not saying the Muslims here are lily or whatever, but they’re not pitch. And I suspect that most Muslims globally are like that. People. Not extremist, and not even Arab. The American perception of Islam seems to be the 9/11 bombers, but most Muslims are brown. They’re not sand niggers, they’re Pakis. If you check out the demographics Saudi Arabia only appears on top if you sort by percentage Muslim. In terms of raw number, most Muslims are in Indonesia, followed by Pakistan, India, Bangla and Turkey. You don’t even get a Middle Eastern country in the Top 5 (I’m including Turkey in Europe). Pakistan is suspect, but nobody else is a huge threat to America. And most Muslims there honestly have not much to do with America.
And yet 9/11 was so damaging and the information flow so corrupted that many people think Saddam Hussein did it and that Muslims everywhere are like that. Nevermind that
Saddam most Iraqis are of a minority Muslim group even, entirely unrelated to Al Qaeda. It doesn’t help when the US President encourages this misunderstanding – but it could help if the next President has a better understanding. Unless he doesn’t get elected because of the very same. But I think he will. Ahem.
Like many things in America, the bias against Islam will look pretty bad in hindsight. I mean, it affects immigration, travel, work, everything. At the very worst the Bush government has used nationality and religion to lock people up without habeas corpus and torture them – and the very ‘otherness’ of these people has kept the American public from complaining too much. But as Bill Clinton said, everything that’s wrong with America can be fixed by everything that’s right with America. I mean, you have a really viable Presidential candidate who’s black, of a Kenyan father and who lived for a while in Indonesia. And he’s well educated, well spoken, charismatic, and a great leader running an effective campaign. He has had opportunities, he’s taken them, and he’s given back in years of public service. And that’s why – bumps, bristles, discrimination and even slavery aside – America is still a pretty cool place. That’s also why the dream Barack Obama is living is still a deeply inspiring one. Hopefully he can help America set aside the racial divides of the past and, in time, the religious ones of the present.
PS. His speech on race is well worth watching: YouTube