Obama/Kerry Incident Proves “Muslim” Is the New “N” Word
Posted Dec 21, 2007

Obama/Kerry Incident Proves “Muslim” Is the New “N” Word

by Sheila Musaji

Ex-Senator (D: Nebraska) Bob Kerrey recently made a statement about Barack Obama, ostensibly complimenting the Illinois senator:

“It’s probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There’s a billion people on the planet that are Muslims and I think that experience is a big deal.”

Lots of folks objected to Kerry once again raising the issue of Obama’s “Muslim” connection.  This was seen as “mud slinging”, “stirring the pot”, a “smear campaign”, and lots more reasons why raising this issue showed the negative connotations of a “Muslim” heritage and was “dirty” politics.

One article noted that Obama supporters see this statement in the same light that they see former Clinton campaign co-chair Billy Shaheen’s remarks about Obama’s youthful drug use.

So, what we have is a clear view being stated that saying someone has Muslims in their family tree is an accusation, a problem, a smear, similar to being called a drug addict — a very bad thing indeed.

I am so sorry that I encouraged my children to believe that if they worked hard they could aspire to be anything they wanted to be, and even added “even President!”  They are grown now and no one has shown an interest in politics so I don’t have to feel too badly for lying to them.  But, all the American Muslim parents out there raising the current generation of children need to know that this sort of encouragement is a false hope, a pipe dream.  An American Muslim child (or even a child who has a Muslim in their family) can never be President of the United States, and according to Mitt Romney can’t even hope to achieve a cabinet post.  Romney said: “Based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”  The lone candidate to stand up and say that he disagreed with Romney was John McCain who said that he thought appointments should go to the most qualified.  The hypocrisy of this was pointed out in an article “Love All Religions: Except Islam” which noted that in the same speech Romney said:  “A person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”  Basically, Muslims need not apply.  So, the Presidency and the Cabinet are out, and they shouldn’t even hope to lead the prayer in a State Senate.  They shouldn’t consider becoming a congressperson either because there are those who object to the only Muslim congressman being there simply because of his religion.  Obviously a lot of folks agree with Mike Huckabee’s Iowa campaign manager Bob Vander Plaats who in an appearance on Tucker on MSNBC, stated that “we’re fighting a radical religion in Islam” and that “the war on terror is a theological war.” 

This seems bad enough, but then it gets worse. 

Kerry has apologized to Obama for raising the “issue” of Obama’s Muslim heritage.  In the apology Kerry said:  “What I found myself getting into in Iowa — and it was my own fault — it was the wrong moment to do it and it was insulting.  I meant no disrespect at all.”

What does the word insult mean?  “To treat with gross insensitivity, insolence, or contemptuous rudeness, to affront or demean.  An offensive action or remark.” 

So, Kerry has apologized to Obama for “insulting” him by inferring that he has a Muslim heritage.  As an American Muslim I believe that Kerry owes the American Muslim community an apology.  In fact, he owes 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide an apology.  Why?  Because, what he is saying in his ‘apology’ to Obama is that referring to a Muslim heritage is “insulting”.  Why is that?  Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim.  Is it an insult to have a Muslim ancestor?  Is it an insult to be a Muslim?  Is it a slur to say someone has a Muslim ancestor?  Is “Muslim” an epithet or swear word?  The fact that an apology is seen as necessary is an insult to Muslims!

Obama has accepted his apology.  How generous!  I assume that means that he also agrees that an apology was necessary, and as far as I have seen neither he nor anyone else has said anything about the bottom line issue here of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim feeling.  I for one am waiting for apologies from a lot of these folks, but won’t hold my breath.

This is not the first time that “Muslim” or Islam has been used as an accusation.  In fact, this happens so often that we have a series of article collections for such alarming statements year by year.

Most recently two Clinton campaign aides were involved in a propoganda email incident .  The email said in part that Obama was “concealing the fact that he was a Muslim”, and :  “Let us all remain alert concerning Obama’s expected presidential Candidacy,” the email reads. “Please forward to everyone you know. The Muslims have said they Plan on destroying the U.S. from the inside out, what better way to start than at The highest level.”   The two campaign aides have already been asked to resign.  Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Kerry has recently signed on as a Clinton supporter. 

Is the “M” word the new “N” word?  And, is it “politically” correct to use it disparagingly.  Was the “Muslim” word more insulting to Obama than using the “N” word would have been?

It seems that Kerry has joined with the hard core racists and white power folks.  And, the media and everyone else who doesn’t see this as pointing to a real problem of Islamophobia permeating this country.  And, surprisingly, it doesn’t seem to cross their minds that this will be perceived very negatively across the world.  Even more surprising when you consider that they are involved in a political campain to elect a President who will need to deal with the rest of the world.

As Ramzy Baroud has pointed out“It’s odd that in the first decade of the 21st century, the media still validates the same religious thoughtlessness that had prevailed in America when Catholic John F. Kennedy made his famous statement in 1960 asserting that the Pope would not sway his presidency. Indeed, the media should have chastised the entire debate which ranks potential presidents based on whose God is best, or whether comparative religion should be discussed at all. Needless to say mediocre journalism like that of Riley should have never made it to print in the first place.”

Clearly we have free speech in the U.S., and the line between hate speech and free speech is difficult to draw.  My hope as an American Muslim is that we are able to learn to have respectful speech that does not close off the possibility of dialogue and alienate the very Muslims who could act as a bridge between cultures.



American Muslims Must Accept That They Are Not Equivalent to Real Americans
If Muslims Are So Terrible, Why The Need To Make Up So Many Lies?
Islamophobia In The American Heartland?
Muslim or Christian What’s the Difference, the Muslims Are at Fault
The Muslims Are Here!  The Muslims Are Here!
There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim?

and please check out all of our collections of RESPONSES to various accusations