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Muslim/Arab/Terrorist?

Oct 31, 2008 — Categories:

I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss the election in my blog. This is not the place for partisan anything. But in this last week before the election, I do have to comment on the overt racism that continues to persist even unto the very end.

I promised myself I wouldn’t discuss the election in my blog. This is not the place for partisan anything. But in this last week before the election, I do have to comment on the overt racism that continues to persist even unto the very end.

In these final days, the McCain campaign continues to perpetuate the falsehood that Obama is a Muslim and to equate that with Arab and terrorist. This exchange exemplified the contradiction the campaign has created: McCain passed his wireless microphone to one woman who said, "I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not, he's not uh — he's an Arab. He's not — " before McCain retook the microphone and replied: "No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not [an Arab]."

McCain, in his effort to confront this misinformation being repeated by his supporter, simply perpetuated the bigotry. “He’s not an Arab . . . he’s a decent family man and citizen.” I cringed. I had really hoped that the Muslim-Arab-terrorist stereotype was a figment of the campaign. But then I realized that McCain believed it . . . as do a number of voters who are not interested in the facts.

So I offer several testimonials in response:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "I felt incredibly sad for this country," Tutu said, his sparkly eyes flashing with emotion behind wire-rimmed spectacles. "I thought, how obscene. How repulsive. And also, how dangerous! You know what's happened already? There are people in this country and in many other countries who are saying, 'Islam is a religion that propagates violence. Islam is a religion that propagates terrorism.' It's an offensive, repulsive, obscene [mischaracterization] and dangerous. And they say this because one of his names is 'Hussein'? They forget that the other name means 'blessing.'"

Secretary Colin Powell: “I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”

My own: in my work, I know a number of Arab Muslim men who are my colleagues, including Imams. They are all fine family men. Indeed they are strong allies in leading their communities to address the issues of domestic violence just as Christian clergy and Jewish rabbis are providing that leadership. To slander their character and their leadership is mean-spirited and counter-productive. We live in a mutli-faith society where all faith groups share a love of God, family and neighbor. This fact should provide a foundation for our common task of improving our society, not a basis for division and hatred.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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