Monday, November 01, 2010

The Bully Minbar

If a local religious leader or organization dares to voice an opinion on a matter in any way related to politics that does not support the prevailing Leftist orthodoxy--say sending a DVD to its members explaining the church's teaching on gay marriage for example--the outcry will be immediate and visceral. The usual suspects in the media will proceed with:

- Hectoring about the imminent dangers of theocracy.

- Lecturing about the history of separation of church and state (it's in the Constitution, you know!).

- And calling for an end to the particular religious organization's tax exempt status.

It's a pattern that we've seen oft repeated over the years and is as predictable as it is pathetic. Of course there is one rather glaring loophole in this noble and courageous resistance to the encroachment of religion into politics. The activities of one religious group in particular never seem to warrant the scrutiny and skepticism typically displayed by the media in these matters. Hmmm…now who could we talking about her?

No Atomizer, it's not the Quakers. Although I think we should keep a watchful eye on the Religious Society of Friends they are not the ones who typically get a free pass from the media. What I am talking about is why the local media seems curiously incurious when it comes to matters involving the Islamic religion and politics.

Obviously, there's nothing wrong with Minnesota Muslims expressing political views any more that it is for other religious groups to do so. It's just a little unusual that such activity seems to generate so little interest for the local media.

The following are excerpts from an e-mail titled "I'm voting Democrat because I'm a Muslim--how about you?" that has been forwarded to various Islamic and Arabic groups in Minnesota. It was penned by an individual who does not claim to represent the views of any particular organization. It begins with an A to Z list of why politics matter:

a. You should vote because politics can (positively or negatively) affects every aspect of your life

b. It can affect your children, grandchildren, and your brothers and sisters

c. Politicians' decision can make your life, as a Muslim, easier or more difficult

d. Politicians decide if you can park on the street next to the Masjid

e. Politicians decide if you can buy a building for Masjid

f. Politicians decide if your children (or you) should be allowed to wear a scarf when they go to school

Especially important given Minnesota's cold winters.

g. Politicians decide if the airport should put you and your family (as Muslims and immigrants) though X-ray that essentially shows a picture of naked body.

h. Politicians decide to allow your kids to be in charter schools or not

i. Politicians decide how many students should be in your kids classes

j. Politicians decide if you should be able to sponsor your relatives over to the US

k. Politicians decide if police should freely discriminate against you and single you out and harass you and your family

l. Politicians decide if it is OK for your employer to fire you for having a beard, scarf, or leaving briefly for prayer

m. Politicians decide if the new refugees and immigrants coming to MN should get some money to get them through, until they find job

n. Politicians decide if the elderly and the poor should be able to get health insurance through state, pay for pain meds, or life saving meds, or just ER

o. Politicians decide if they should put sanctions on a particular country, or to give them BILLIONS of your tax dollars

Talking about Egypt, right?

p. Politicians decide if they should start a war, and which tactics to use

q. Politicians decide if you should get unemployment benefits, social security benefits,...

r. Politicians decide how much taxes you should pay, and how it should be spent

s. Politicians decide if should be able to enter US, or leave US (even if you are a citizen)

t. Politicians decide if companies could dump toxic material in the water that you and your family drink

u. Politicians decide how fast you can drive, and what should be your penalty if you break the law.

v. Politicians decide if your phone and emails should be monitored.

w. Politicians decide if it is legal to wear a scarf, or to have a beard...

x. Politicians decide if your Masjid can have a minaret, or a dome, or a parking lot

y. Politicians decide yours (or your children’s) college tuition, and grants

z. Politicians decide a ton of other things which will positively or negative affect you, your family, your kids, your grandkids, your brothers and sister here and overseas.

And then a list of more reasons why you should vote:

Because it is your duty to prevent harm, and promote good (by action, by words, and at least in your heart).

Because you are a khalifa fil ardh (viceroys/ stewards on earth)

Because you can pick the LESSER of the two evils, or the better of two good options.

Because you don’t want to look back 30 years from now and wish you had voted.

Because you know Allah will not change your situation, unless you change yours
elf (or what is in you, attitude, character...) - start the change process here.

Because polls show that 2/3rd (~66%) of Muslims vote already

Because Pawlenty won by just 25K votes and Franken by 325 votes

Because we are tired of just complaining

Because you care for the humanity

Because you care for your family and the future of your family and your community

Because people here and around the world count on you.

Because you are still here, even after 8 years of Bush and Cheney

Because you are a Muslim, and/or and immigrant, or children of immigrants

Because you want to protect yourself, your family, your community, and your freedom of religion and equality

Because it is your civil and religious duty and because it is about you as Muslim.

The e-mail then goes on to discuss who you should vote for:

I think I have been very clear that I have been very disappointed by the attacks on Islam and Muslims by many Republicans and conservatives. In many ways this is ironic, because we can agree on many issues.

I am sure you have seen dozens of articles and emails on this, so I don't think I need to mention each case. I think if you just watch Fox News for one night, you won't need much convincing of this point.

So I will vote against Republicans and against those to attack Muslims and Islam. When they change, I will consider changing my voting pattern.

This means, I will vote ONLY for the candidates that can beat them.

This mean only voting for Democrats (Democratic-Farmer-Labor / DFL).

This means: Dayton for Governer

Congress: Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tarryl Clark, Jim Meffert, Oberstar, and Walz, and Peterson (if you are out there).

If you count the Congressional endorsements listed you may notice there are only seven. Apparently Shelley Madore is such a non-entity in her race against John Kline that she doesn't even merit mention.

Democrats have reached out to MN Muslims:

Ellison – this is too obvious :)

Betty McCollum - met Muslims and been a great advocate for human rights

Jim Meffert (visited mosques and organizations in his district a number of times)

Clark : met with community on the 29th

And I, for one, been very happy with President Obama, his speeches and large part of his foreign policy. Huge change from Bush era. I am sure for those who had huge expectations will always be disappointed.

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Muslims freely expressing their political views and using their religious beliefs as a basis for supporting various candidates. People from all religious groups have a right to make their voice heard on the public square. Maybe one day our enlightened friends in the media will understand this.