So as I was reading the Quran today, reading about peace and charity, I began to day dream, admiring the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The US celebrates his life by observing a federal holiday which marks the anniversary of his birthday. That day is today. Happy MLK day everybody!
And then I jumped to a really unique thought: I wish Barack Obama actually were a Muslim. We all remember the untrue rumors claiming that Obama is Muslim (Obama’s grandfather converted to Islam but Obama’s father was an atheist and Obama is Christian). Unfortunately, these in-my-opinion-racist-fueled attacks are reminders that MLK’s vision and work is not done. These attacks also symbolize how religiously intolerant America is (off the charts bigoted) and how much work we need to do so that religious equality actually exists. So what if Barack Obama were a Muslim? Why would that be so negative? Shouldn’t that be a positive thing? Don’t we celebrate diversity in America? Wouldn’t Barack’s Muslim faith enable him to better connect with those around the world? Wouldn’t it give him a unique insight into our country, our situation, and better suit him to lead us?
I think it is bullshit that the simple fact of calling Barack Obama Muslim is equivalent to an insult in America. If we were not such bigots, then that claim would have no negative fuel, no mojo, no power. But it did have that power. And since it had so much negative thwart, we must get off our butts and get in gear, working to create a vision of equality that was voiced by MLK decades ago. We need to change America into a place were being Muslim is celebrated, were it would be possible for Obama to be Muslim.
America needs to elect a Muslim president (and a female president, and a gay president, etc.), just as we elected a black president.
And as I was thinking about how extraordinarily courageous MLK was, how he engaged in interfaith cooperation in the civil rights movement, working with, dialoging with, and critiquing Malcolm X, a Muslim, I realized that MLK would have definitely voted for a Muslim president if the best candidate happened to follow Islam. It seems that religious intolerance and bigotry today, especially Islamophobia, is parallel to Jim Crow and the civil rights movement that MLK mobilized. It is logical to see the connection between MLK’s work and Obama’s election as president, as the civil rights movement paved the way for a black person to be in the oval office.
But then who is the great advocate for interfaith cooperation? Who is the great leader standing up for Muslims, fighting for equal rights andf treatment? Who will stand against Islamophobes so that our great country will finally elect Muslim president? Eboo Patel (check out his social justice non-profit ifyc.org) may be America’s most-effective figure to fight against Islamophobia. As a Muslim, he is trying to create a intefaith cooperation movement where we set aside our religious differences and work together to improve our communities. If only more people would listen to him… Or maybe we should actually just listen to our president, instead of making bigoted claims that he is Muslim… Take it away Mr. Obama…