Thursday, January 24, 2008

Barack the non-Muslim

I went to Obama's headquarters and picked up a yard sign and a bumper sticker yesterday. In the old days, these were free, but now you have to pay. I'll be supportive of whomever gets the nomination, but Obama is my main man. I think that he has the best chance to heal this country and get past all the old fights that have grown so tiresome. I'll write more about Obama later, insha Allah.

But I wanted to bring up the issue of Barack's denouncement of emails that claim he is a closet Muslim. Apparently, these emails treat Barack as a Manchurian candidate who was brainwashed at a "madrassa" in Indonesia as a child. They also claim that Barack has a brother named Roy who is a Muslim (this is the first that I heard that).

The media loves this storyline. On CNN the other night, they had a big banner - Obama vehemently denies that he is a Muslim. And everyone in the media seems to equate being Muslim as being a pedophile or being a Communist (i.e., something to be loathed). It angers me greatly.

I have seen some Muslim bloggers tackle the issue. Sheila Musaji raised the issue a few weeks ago, wondering " Is the “M” word the new "N" word? And, is it “politically” correct to use it disparagingly. Was the “Muslim” word more insulting to Obama than using the “N” word would have been?" Umar Lee wrote a hypothetical response as to how he wished Barack would respond to the "Barack is a Muslim" meme. This apparently caused quite a stir when people thought it was Barack's real response.

Now, though, the issue of whether Muslims should be insulted that everyone is equating being a Muslim as something undesirable is coming to the fore. Garry Trudeau had a nice cartoon recently addressing the issue. And the Chicago Tribune's religion writer had a nice take on it on her blog:

The repeated and false claims that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is a closet Muslim have prompted the candidate to reiterate that he is a committed Christian.

But he stops short of saying that being Muslim wouldn’t be a bad thing. In addition to setting the record straight about his own faith, should Obama also give a shout-out to his Muslim brothers and sisters and defend Islam?

Some say that if Barack defends Islam, the Republican noise machine will use it as "proof" that he is in fact a closet Muslim. I wish he would stand together with Muslim Americans, but I have been through enough elections to be a bit more practical about these types of issues to focus on the bigger picture and that is to get Obama elected than to be upset over what is in essence, a minor point. I just ask myself, will Obama be better for the Muslims than Hillary or McCain or the others? I think that answer is very clearly yes.

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