Friday, 9 November 2012

more on american elections - a muslim perspective

so i've been immersed in things american this past week.  there were the elections of course, and i've been reading a lot of stuff around that as well as watching the results yesterday.  but there was also the fact i was invited to the home of the consul-general in auckland on saturday evening, along with many other members of the muslim community, to celebrate eid-ul-adha.

it was actually a nice gesture, and of course i know it's part of their job in terms of outreach to the community. but even so, it was nice to be invited and acknowledged as a community.  it was also interesting to see who turned up.  particularly one of our more conservative sheikhs.  but most of the leadership in the muslim community was present, and i think that's a good thing.  even though i know that most people in the room would certainly have major issues with american foreign policy, it was good to see all that put aside for an evening while we got to know the consulate staff.

and back to the election (yes, i promise to stop talking about it soon), it was also really heartening to see some virulently anti-islamic candidates miss out on being elected.  i'll quote from a press release by CAIR:

In Florida, Rep. Allen West (R), who claims Islam is not a religion but is instead a "totalitarian theocratic political ideology" that is a "very vile and very vicious enemy," was defeated by a narrow margin.

Also in Florida, State Representative Adam Hasner (R) was defeated in his bid for Congress. Hasner once co-hosted an event featuring Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders that was also sponsored by Anti-Muslim hate group leader Pamela Geller....

A third Florida anti-Muslim candidate, Terry Kemple, lost his bid for the Hillsborough County School Board. Kemple's main issue in the race was seeking to keep Muslim speakers out of local schools.

In Illinois, Rep. Joe Walsh (R) was defeated in his re-election bid. Earlier this year, when a town hall meeting attendee told him that he was "looking for some godly men and women in the Senate, in the Congress, who will stand in the face of the danger of Islam," Walsh left the door open for suspicion of every Muslim living in Illinois when he responded saying radical Islam is more of a threat "now that it was right after 9/11" and "It's here. It's in Elk Grove. It's in Addison. It's in Elgin. It's here."

In Arkansas, Rep. James McLean defeated Republican Charlie Fuqua, a candidate who advocated the deportation of all Muslims in a self-published book.

In Minnesota, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) lost his seat. Cravaack was a key supporter's of Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) series of anti-Muslim hearings.

this is the first time i've seen CAIR actively involved in soliciting campaign funds for particular political campaigns - they were particularly working hard to ensure mr west lost his seat. but that was the extent of their campaigning: they focused on particular candidates who had been harmful to the muslim community, but they didn't send out a message to vote democrat or republican.  even their "get out the vote campaign" was overtly non-partisan, although they clearly knew from their own polling that muslims were largely favouring obama, by a huge margin.

there are around 7 million muslims in america, and there were significant groups of them living in the swing states.  that number is only going to get higher, and just as with other voting blocs (women, black, latino, younger voters), it's a foolish party that ignores them.  electoral power is the only sure way to safety, or at least to prevent things like this nonsense congresssional hearing.

so it's heartening to see that muslims in america are engaging with politics and the political system and that at least some islamophobic candidates losing their races.

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