Tariq NelsonPosted Feb 12, 2008 •Permalink • Printer-Friendly Version
Obama, Muslims, the Potomac Primaries and a Changing America
by Tariq Nelson
The Democratic and Republican primaries will be held in Maryland, DC and here in Virginia today, insha Allah. Obama is looking very strong across the country. With John McCain - who wants more wars for a hundred years - having all but wrapped up the GOP nomination, some Virginia Republicans are considering crossing over to vote for Hillary because she is perceived as the weaker candidate. The “Keep her in it, so we can win it” strategy.
From what I can see, the Muslims in this area are pretty solidly behind Barack Obama because he is against the war in Iraq (and more wars) universal health care, and will implement a different economic policy. If he can win the nomination, and the Presidency, I wonder how this will play in the Muslim world. This article from a couple of months ago has a pretty interesting take
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivial—it’s central to an effective war strategy. The war on Islamist terror, after all, is two-pronged: a function of both hard power and soft power.
[…] We have seen the potential of hard power in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. We have also seen its inherent weaknesses in Iraq, and its profound limitations in winning a long war against radical Islam. The next president has to create a sophisticated and supple blend of soft and hard power to isolate the enemy, to fight where necessary, but also to create an ideological template that works to the West’s advantage over the long haul. There is simply no other candidate with the potential of Obama to do this. Which is where his face comes in.
Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can. [...]
This is not why many are supporting Obama, but one can not deny that this would be one of the underlying pluses to electing him. The extremists thrive on irrational anger, demagoguery and misleading propaganda to recruit so they paint a picture of an inherently racist America in which all of the people are anti-Muslim bigots that are determined to throw all Muslims into concentration camps. They want to paint a picture of an America in which there is an active inquisition and a Muslim can not walk the streets freely or is beaten for praying or practicing their religion. They want to paint a picture of a Jim Crow-like America against Muslims. These nuts know that most people would never go along with their horrible crimes, so they appeal to their emotions. These maniacs hope that we will never stop and think. When people stop and think, they step away from these extremists as is happening in Iraq.
Of course there are anti-Muslim bigots, but I honestly believe that they are in the minority. As more time passes - without another terror attack - these anti-Muslim bigots will return to the fringes where they belong. Let me add that normal people pray that there is not another terror attack by the maniacs (say Ameen!), but the irony is that the anti-Muslim bigots and the extremist nutters are two sides of the same coin in that they both wish for another attack. The anti-Muslim bigots want to establish the Jim Crow America that the nutters portray. Another attack would keep the venomous anti-Muslim bigots relevant and the vile nutters would be orgasmic at more bloodshed.
As I wrote here, the emergence of Obama has already further demonstrated the willingness of the American people to look in the mirror and change. This would be a powerful message. A masjid was burned to the ground in rural Tennessee, but the general community has rallied around them - denounced the crime - and are helping to find the perpetrators. The maniacs will no doubt use this incident to recruit of course leaving out the part about the community helping to solve the crime.
In the past, the police and community would not have helped at all. Men that had multiple gun wounds to the head were declared to be “suicides”. The entire community would come out and lynch a person simply for being different or walking on the wrong side of the tracks. Today, this is not only almost unheard of, but people are horrified and embarrassed to hear of such a thing. There are masjids in places as rural as Oxford, Mississippi and the Muslims there are not harassed or beaten and are free to worship daily as they please. This is the picture of America that the extremists do not want Muslims to see.
There is still a long way to go, but there is a willingness to change. I will be voting for another step in that direction, Insha Allah
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