Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why Obama Shies Away From Muslims?

Following the strong Colin Powell statement in support of Muslim Americans rights and patriotism on NBC's Meet the Press, NY Times Columnist Maureen Dowd has criticized the Obama campaign for shying away from Americans of Muslim faith. By asking "So what if he (Obama) is Muslim?", General Powell has gone where no US politician , including Obama, has ever dared to go before him. Here's what Ms. Dowd wrote in her Oct 22, 2008 column titled "Moved by a Crescent":

Even the Obama campaign has shied away from Muslims. The candidate has gone to synagogues but no mosques, and the campaign was embarrassed when it turned out that two young women in headscarves had not been allowed to stand behind Obama during a speech in Detroit because aides did not want them in the TV shot.

Ms. Dowd followed up with General Powell on his Obama endorsement and reports as follows:

Powell got a note from Feroze Khan (father of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan) this week thanking him for telling the world that Muslim-Americans are as good as any others. But he also received more e-mails insisting that Obama is a Muslim and one calling him “unconstitutional and unbiblical” for daring to support a socialist. He got a mass e-mail from a man wanting to spread the word that Obama was reading a book about the end of America written by a fellow Muslim.

“Holy cow!” Powell thought. Upon checking, he saw that it was a reference to Fareed Zakaria, a Muslim who writes a Newsweek column and hosts a CNN foreign affairs show. His latest book is “The Post-American World.”

While I wish that Obama would say something along the lines of what Powell did in his endorsement, the fact is that Obama himself and his campaign have practically treated the Muslim label as if it were an epithet.

The Obama campaign has been trying to deliberately distance their man from Muslim-Americans. What happened a few weeks ago when the campaign quickly dumped Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi as director of Muslim Outreach raises serious questions about how genuine Obama's "Change" message is. Asbahi and James Zogby, president of Arab-American Institute, are not radicals by any stretch, and yet they are targeted because of who they are: Muslim-American and Arab-American. It's a big mistake to push away the moderates in this battle against the extremists within Islam. Extremists on both sides of any battle draw strength from each other by pointing to the excesses of the opposite side. Attacking and marginalizing the Muslim moderates only helps the extremes in the West and the Islamic world and perpetuates the ongoing man-made "clash of civilizations".

In response to the expected assault by the pro-war right wing pundits and commentators, the weakness shown by the Obama campaign represents a huge obstacle in the way of the "dialog of civilizations" needed to bring real "Change" from the madness that has characterized the last seven years of the Bush administration. How will President Obama pursue this all-important dialog if he caves in so quickly to the purveyors of hate in America?

Unless Mr. Obama and his campaign answer the fundamental questions raised here, it will be hard for most rational and thinking people to believe that Obama's talk of "Change" is sincere. Instead, all of his carefully crafted "change" messages will appear to be merely politically convenient slogans to win the upcoming elections. To demonstrate that he is genuine, Obama must stop being an overly cautious captive of his political handlers and show moral fortitude to bring about real "Change" in America and the world.

To make amends for his shabby treatment of Muslim Americans, I suggest to Mr. Obama to meet with Mr. Feroze Khan and thank him for his son's sacrifice. It will be a strong gesture to America and the world that Obama is serious about "Change" in America.


BRADEN said...

this thought process of Obama being Muslim has gone on now for a year. although i would wish that Obama had said something earlier. his reasons for doing so reminds me of an old proverb "even though your cause is just, does not necessisarily mean you will win." this country has been historically racist since its birth. In early colonial America they even hated the Irish. so one thing at a time Riaz, to some Americans his color is too much change. i think its best to wait and see his actions as president and not his actions as a man who is trying to get Americans to accept him. hes mearly picking his battles because the real fight against ignorance is a long road and fraught with more important endeavors. so the Powell statement had to come from someone else other than Obama and it became far more significant because Powell said it. Obama couldn't of carried that message. it could of only been said by someone who is highly revered by all Americans. thats why i love it so much, its been on my mind since i saw it on meet the press.
with military in my blood Obama's thanks means nothing. real honour comes from the acknowledgment of a notable military leader and genius, the medals he earned for valor, and his being buried with his brothers in arms in the most prestigious graveyard in America Arlington Cemetery.
but that's the military in me, i see all his achievements and believe he would have been of much better use to this world alive. in the near future we're going to need more people like Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan

temporal said...


imho it is a smart and necessary move

association with muslims is a liability and not an asset

the day after winning the nomination where does he show up? AIPAC!


gazing in my crystal ball...towards the end of his first term and in all of second term obama would show a greater balance and may even warm up to the muslim world

Riaz Haq said...

braden and temporal,
From what you are saying, the only "change" Obama brings is change of face in the White House, from pale and male to dark and male. In all other ways, it is just business as usual! Is this the "Change you can believe in"? Whatever happened to leadership qualities such as risk-taking, even if it hurts you in the short term? This is not a "profile in courage".

temporal said...


i did not say that!


while in essence both the parties lip sync to ike's m-i-c

good politicians have a certain machiavellian touch

BRADEN said...

exactly that's why great men like Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War. unfortunitlly politics in every region throughout time has had to deal with this.from Cyrus The Great to Abraham Lincoln. The greatest of leaders where never naive enough to believe that change is instant nor easily accomplished by simply stating something. it requires a little of the old to move on with the new and certainly Obama's opponents don't subscribe to his new sort of rules.
crisis is a catalyst for change. this is the rule of law when it comes to any whether he accomplishes anything at all remains to be seen, I'm mearly stating he is the obvious lesser of two evils because change is coming. if he becomes president I'll sit in judgment of what he does and not because he missed a good speaking point.
also this situation isn't like McCain's where he abandoned every important issue that made him significant for the republican base or surrounding himself with the very people who smeared his reputation in the 2000 primaries.

libertarian said...

This is not a "profile in courage".

There's courage and then there's foolhardiness. PC aside - what's the payoff for cozy-ing up to the Muslim population in the US? They are not close to swinging a national election. And there is no denying a severe anti-Muslim bias in the US. Add Obama's close shave on Jeremiah Wright - and it's easy to see why he has to distance himself from the Muslim rumors - and be seen to be doing so. He cannot afford another fiasco of that magnitude.