Inclusiveness: The Right (and Political) Way to Be
While the GOP debate was in the news for it’s one liners and panning of CNBC’s moderating, another meaningful event occurred close to the nation’s capital.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was speaking at George Mason University, when senior Remaz Abdelgader asked, “As an American Muslim student who aspires to change this world—I am trying to raise awareness and make sure everyone is treated equally in this country. As a presidential candidate, what do you think about that?” The emotion in her voice was evident to Sen. Sanders and everyone in the room. He left the podium to give her a hug, even bringing her back up to it as he answered her question. Sanders said he acknowledged the inter-connectedness of all forms of hate and declared his commitment to end racism, including Islamophobia.
What Sanders said was perhaps not anything remarkable by itself, but one not often heard enough from leaders of our nation - both Republicans and Democrats.
What is also noteworthy is that the impetus was an American Muslim who inspired this comment. While other candidates would say they are against racism, they would most likely be loathe to show too much sympathy toward Muslims. In fact, they often speak about equality while making outrageous comments on Muslims, much like Donald Trump and Ben Carson regularly do.
A note to all candidates would be that the American people are inclusive and accepting and do not tolerate discrimination. While a candidate or two may rise in the polls in a particular primary season by engaging in hate and fear-mongering, it is not only the wrong thing to do, it is politically unwise for the long-term.
Political strategists must take into account that the youth are generally more accepting of minorities and intolerant of Muslim-bashing. More and more organizations and companies will distance themselves from those known for their bigotry as NBC did when they cancelled “The Celebrity Apprentice” for his comments against Mexican immigrants. Other minority groups such as Hispanics, the LGBT community, African-Americans have all experienced discrimination, but because of our collective push-back against this, the overt expression of it is now unacceptable in society.
Over time, it becomes apparent doing the right thing ends up being the best political strategy, too. While right now one may be able to get away with open discrimination against Muslims, in the long-term, such discrimination will not resonate with the youth, nor will it be looked kindly upon by history.