In my mind, one of the worse things about the recent Muslim/Arab hate speeches either tacitly condoned by Senator John McCain, or outright spoken by his running mate and sidekick, Governor Sarah Palin, is that this line of attack presumes there are no Muslims persons living in the United States. This is not the case, somewhere apparently approximately 2 million people of the Muslim faith live in America and 70% of those American Muslims believe they should participate in the political process. These Muslim or Arab Americans are owed a duty of respect from both candidates that they are not getting.
Let me emphasize that a duty of respect is owed to persons of all nationalities, creeds and religious around the world but, the next President of the United States will be the representatives of these Muslim and Arab Americans whom the McCain camp condemns. The Palin speeches decrying Barack Obama as a terrorist, and the sheriff who called Obama by his middle name, Hussein, a thinly veiled attempt to portray Senator Obama as a Muslim terrorist, all imply that to be a Muslim or Arab is inherently to be a terrorist and obviously un-American.
How do Muslim/Arab Americans feel about this? Since 9/11 as everyone knows, and prior to this recent election´s denigration to an anti-Muslim tirade, Muslims around the world have been concerned about their depiction as all being terrorists subversives who don´t integrate into society. A Canadian, television show called Little Mosque on the Prairie, a take-off on the famous U.S. program, Little House on the Prairie, is apparently in the works to appear on television in America. This popular show attempts to portray Muslims in their daily lives to show them as regular citizens.
Head scarved and living their lives, the cast in this show exemplifies the normality of those we may not understand, and hopefully educates the public that to be Arab or Muslim, does not equal being a terrorist, or primitive or subversive. The recent events of the campaign, are illustrative of the fact that we need such a television show. Especially in the campaign of Senator McCain, it has become cache to deride the Muslim community. But while he has denounced the attacks from the McCain camp, some Muslim and Arab Americans also feel Senator Obama has not done enough champion their cause.
A person of the Muslim faith I spoke to, who is an Obama supporter indicated, his support for Obama was based on the fact that he seemed to care more about the middle class and made a wiser Vice Presidential choice, but this Muslim American feels let down by the failure of both campaigns to put down the Muslim slurs. He indicated he would like both candidates to address what he called " one racial slur" in particular. In response to a question as to how he feels the candidates should address the issue he said, "Yes, I want Obama and McCain to respond to ONE slur in particular. "I want to hear both of them say that they don't believe it is a "bad" thing to be an Arab or Muslim or both." And he wants to hear from his candidate Senator Obama, " I want Obama to say, he is not a Muslim, but if he was, it shouldn't be considered a bad thing. I want them to defend Arabs and Muslims."
Past interviews show Senator McCain is not likely to speak up for his fellow Muslim Americans as he seems to prefer Christians in positions of leadership. In a 2007 interview posted on the New York Times, McCain indicated he felt a Christian president would be better choice because this nation was found on Christian principles according to the New York Times he said, " the Constitution established the United States as a Christian nation and that his faith is probably of better spiritual guidance than that of a Muslim candidate for president.¨ So is he saying a Jewish, Hindu or Atheist President would also be bad off hand because they are not Christian? I don´t know but it clearly seems we cannot count on Senator McCain to do the right thing and champion the cause of Muslim Americans.
Even though many have his support, a clarion call has gone out to Candidate Obama from the Muslim community to speak up on their behalf. But Senator Obama is in a difficult position. First he is called a terrorist for being on a Board of Directors with a 1960´s radical, (which by the way Republicans served on the same Board of Directors), then he is a terrorist because his name is Hussein and his father was Kenyan. The opponent then blends these two separate issues together, and somehow he becomes an Arab Muslim terrorist. Thus Obama has the challenge to: First, set the record straight as t his citizenship and faith. Secondly, set the record straight as to serving on a Board of Directors with a 1960´s radical, whose deeds if done, were done when Obama was about 8 years old; and Third, set the record straight as to the fact that because a person is an Arab or Muslim, does not mean he is bad; and as the demographics show that person may be a fellow tax paying American, as concerned about the future of his country and his children as the woman who couldn´t vote for Obama because he is an "Arab."
It may be difficult for Senator Obama, but our Muslim brothers and sisters demand and are due a champion of their cause in these candidates. Muslim Americans surprisingly have not lost faith and still have hope in America, but as the Muslim American I asked about this issue indicated, "we know there are extremist." Although he, as I am shocked as to how many ignorant people there are, who automatically believe one´s birth name or faith makes them a terrorist. It is essential for the country that the next President of the United States show support for Muslims and Arabs persons in America.