Holding Muslims at Arm’s Length: This is the title of an article written by the Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson about the recent controversy when presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s campaign staffers whisk women in Islamic head scarves out of photo-ops.
Jackson says that Obama’s campaign has been far more inclusive than John McCain’s but Obama’s handlers are so bent on passing their biracial, binationally-raised man as a pure-blooded American that they are reinforcing the perception that Muslim Americans are impure.
He pointed out that in his year-and-a-half-long run for president, Obama has visited churches and synagogues, but no mosque. “This has the musty feel of light-skinned African-Americans passing for white, paranoid over daylight visits from dark-skinned relatives.”
Quoting a Muslim Congressman from Minnesota, Keith Ellison, as saying about Obama, “a lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim,” Jackson said a lot of Muslims are waiting because, seven years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an undercurrent of suspicion remains. In the 2007 Pew survey, a third of Muslim Americans said that within the last year, they had either been treated with suspicion, called offensive names, profiled by police, or even attacked.
Jackson said that Obama himself has said “Christians and people of other faiths lived very comfortably” with each other when he lived in Indonesia. It is time for him to live comfortably with Muslims in his campaign. In a 2006 trip to Chad, Obama issued the Muslim greeting for peace. A wise Obama would say “assalamu alaikum” at home, too.
Perhaps Jackson answers to Obama’s meaningful reluctance to visit a mosque when he quotes a Newsweek poll of May which concludes that despite nearly hitting the third rail over his former Christian pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, only 58 percent of Americans think Obama is a Christian.
However, I believe that a blogger’s comment on Jackson’s article is more telling: “Obama is between a rock and a hard place, if he goes to a mosque this controlled media that we have would be camped out at the mosque for months, if he do not go the media is going to hold that against him. The system and the mentality of media in this country makes it where a politician has to do what the establishment want him to say or do in order to win the election, that is the reason honest people do not make it in politics just like an educated person does not make a good slave.”
Politics is not about honesty or principled stand but it is the art of possible.