Casting Stones

obama19.jpgThe question must be asked by an American Muslim–it is really so bad for any of the presidential candidates to have any ties, even the slenderest of ties, to Muslims? More specifically, why is Barack Obama’s campaign so intent on snuffing out any connection he has–through his own family or through any of his travels–with the Muslim world? When did Muslims become the pariah of politics?
The latest mud-slinging between Hillary Clinton and Obama’s campaign involves a rather innocent photo of Obama dressed as a Muslim Somali elder during a visit to Wajir in northeastern Kenya in 2006. Thought to be leaked by Clinton staffers, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe quickly accused them of “shameful offensive fear-mongering” for releasing the photo.
Regardless of if the Clinton deliberately circulated the photo for that reason, why is it viewed as a “fear-mongering” tactic by the Obama camp? American Muslims are a six-million strong voting contingency, and as duly reported in Beliefnet’s God-o-Meter, Muslims are leaning towards voting for Obama. He’s seen by Muslims as a diverse man who seeks dialogue over war, who wants to amend U.S. global policy so that the country’s not viewed as a bully. But how, as Islamica Magazine’s Firas Ahmed writes, “do you root for a candidate who doesn’t want you to root for him?
“But for many reasons, Muslims are the one constituency Obama does not want
to court. With a wink and a nod, Obama’s Muslim supporters continue to work
for a candidate who cannot afford to wink back at them. Given his perceived
‘closeness’ to Islam, and the fact that he shares a name with a former Iraqi dictator,
it could be strategic suicide for the Obama campaign to vocally acknowledge
organized Muslim support. At a time when endorsements are worn like badges of
honor, no major candidate is looking for the Muslim vote.
Politicians donning ethnic dress is hardly a new thing. Hillary’s worn a hijab. So what’s the big deal? Rod Dreher of Beliefnet’s Crunchy Con blog nails it: “It doesn’t matter that [the photo] does not, in fact, show Barack Obama revealing his inner Muslim. What it does is strike a resonant chord within voters who, however irrationally, fear that he’s secretly a Muslim.”
Frankly, the whole thing’s pathetic. First he responded to a false email about him being Muslim by calling the rumors “scurrilous.” The email was false. Fine. But why “scurrilous?” And now this photo is a “fear-mongering” tactic. Is it such an insult to have any link with Muslims? For a man who’s all about change and hope, he’s slowly squashing any hope Muslims have for a fair shake by the government in this country, should he become president.

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