Thursday, February 28, 2008

5173: Collateral Smearing.

From The Chicago Tribune…

Missed point on faith

By Ahmed M. Rehab

OK, we get the point. Barack Obama is not a Muslim. He has made that clear, time and again.

As well he should: The rumors are baseless, maliciously spun by political adversaries with the intention of taking votes away from Obama’s promising presidential campaign run.

Obama is entitled to set the record straight. But that’s not the end of the story.

The broader issue is: What does this attempt to smear Obama say about our society?

More personally, what does it say about my newborn nephew’s standing in society? Is he entitled to the dreams of his Muslim father that the boy could grow up to be president if he works as hard as Obama and is as ambitious?

Obama has not gone far enough to challenge the notion that religious affiliation could disqualify Americans from serving their nation. Nor has Mitt Romney, a Mormon, Mike Huckabee, a Baptist, or any other candidate.

It’s time for all of them to be quizzed on the meaning of citizenship as preached and practiced in this great democracy. As a voter, I would much rather know their stance on equal employment policies than which church they attend.

Whenever I address young Muslim audiences that may be struggling with identity issues, I remind them that this is their country, too. I tell them they should observe their civic duties, vote and, if it behooves them, run for public office and help bring about the positive reform they often passively expect of others.

It goes against all that I advocate that the mere rumor of a person being a Muslim -- let alone actually being one -- could be a tool to destroy political aspirations. This in a nation that prides itself on being the heart of the free world.

When it comes to Muslims, the divisive rhetoric coming out of this year’s elections ranges from the exclusionary to the just plain bigoted.

[Read the full perspective here.]

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