Obama and Stereotyping of US Muslims

By Dr. Sam Hamod

Sadly, America is going through a kind of hypocrisy.  Remember, we are supposed to be an "open society," with religious freedom and respect, and all those good things we keep saying to the world that we are.

Well guess what? We aren’t what we say we are. Though I’m sure many of you already know that. But this new assault on Muslims and Islam shows that racism, ethnocentrism and negative stereotyping in the media and in our society isn’t dead–but of course, many African Americans have known this for a long time. But in the case of a presidential candidate, this has reached a new low.

The mud-slinging by Tennessee Republicans, by Hillary Clinton, by Cunningham the inane talk show host who introduced McCain at a rally, and others of that ilk who have been trying to hamstring Barak Obama by calling him a Muslim are just using old fashioned, ignorant stereotyping; in fact, Obama is a Christian, and proud of it. 

I am a Muslim, born and raised in the United States; in Gary, Indiana. I want to ask a simple question, what is wrong with being a muslim? Muslims believe in the same God as Christians, as the Jews and as many other religions, including the Native Americans and others who speak of the Great Spirit. Also, don’t we have freedom of and respect for the diversity of religions in America? But enough of this.

Unfortunately, George W Bush and his chief enforcer, Dick Cheney, and others such as Kristol, Wolfowitz, Perle,Pipes, and their kind have made Muslim a bad word.  They have joined ignorant people all over America and the world, to condemn all Muslims because of the alleged acts of some Muslims who have violated even their own religion by killing innocent people. On the other hand, when Israelis kill innocent Palestinian and Lebanese Muslim children, they are not condemned. No one is afraid to be called a Jew–are they? Shall we stereotype all Jews because of the likes of Sharon, Begin and Olmert?  When American military people gun down entire innocent civilian families in Iraq and Afghanistan, no one dares insult Christians because of their deeds; no one condemns them, as they should. Shall we stereotype all Christians as bad because of these few? 

So why is it that media and politicians think they can lynch Obama by calling him a Muslim? They are trying because they know of the weakness and fear instilled in the American public by the aforementioned media and neocons.

In truth, if we were true to our principles and to our various religions such as Christianity, Judaism and the like, what would be wrong if Obama was a Muslim?  The Qur’an says that one should be honorable, honest and loyal to the country in which he lives and abide by the laws of that country. What could be wrong about that?  It certainly would be better than Hillary and her behavior at Wal Mart and in the Whitewater situation and helping Bill go through lie after lie. It would be better than John McCain claiming to be against lobbyists and their money, and then being shown to have been in their hands all these years, from Keating who destroyed our Savings and Loans, and then helping Murdoch and others in the media field to get favored treatment. 

So why should Obama, who is a known Christian, continue to be tarred and feathered because of the name his father gave him? Even if Obama were a Muslim, which he is not, what would be wrong with that? Absolutely nothing!

Unfortunately, we have become such an ethnocentric, parochially Anglo, anti-Muslim society that we have lost a sense of our Constitution and the principles upon which our country was founded; we have become nothing less than a nation wherein the bias against those who have been demonized by our government are now "outsiders",  even though we are insiders who were born and raised in this country and have worked for its betterment.

There is no shame in being a Muslim, nor in being called one. But the shame is on those who think of Islam and Muslims in a stereotypical derogatory way.  For them, there is the greater shame, that they aren’t being good Christians or Jews or whatever–they are but showing their hypocrisy, their lack of following their own faiths, being true Americans and finally showing their ignorance by following this negative stereotyping.

I’m just sorry Obama isn’t a Muslim; he would make a good one. He is honest, forthright, has vision, speaks out for what is right and against what is wrong and calls them as he sees them and has a strong belief in God. This is what the Qur’an tells us to do as Muslims. Isn’t this the same way Jesus, Moses, Buddha and others said we should live? 

-Dr. Hamod is a professor and the former editor of Third World News in Washington, DC and the former Director of The Islamic Center in Washington, DC. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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