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 Amazon.com, 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.