Being a Muslim in America

I thought that this piece by Rany Jazayerli was amazing. I usually balk at web pieces that make me click through five pages to read it (just put it all on one page, dammit, or do what Salon does and give me the option of seeing it on multiple pages or scrolling down one), but his writing is excellent and I think his point resonates.

It was with some reservation that I voted for Obama last Tuesday. I have found his presidency to be a disappointment in many ways. He wasn’t nearly aggressive enough about addressing the financial crisis he inherited, nor did he press for a public airing of what caused the crisis in the first place. His sustained use of drones to fight the war on terror has been both utterly immoral – an inordinate number of innocent victims, including children, have been killed – and completely counterproductive, because the obvious immorality of these attacks has ignited more terrorists than it has killed. Obama’s weak and unfocused response to the horrors being committed every day by the Syrian government is appalling.

But — third parties aside — the alternative was Mitt Romney, and I could not vote for Romney. There was simply no way that I could justify voting for a party that denies the very legitimacy of my identity as an American. And there was no way that I could justify voting for any member of that party that does not, in the strongest possible terms, denounce that view. Nor could most other members of the American Muslim community, who just happen to be clustered in swing states like Ohio, Virginia and Florida.

As it turned out, with the Muslim community voting overwhelmingly against him, Romney lost Ohio, Virginia and Florida by narrow margins, and lost the election. Joe Walsh lost his bid for reelection in Illinois’ 8th district, which frees up his schedule to start looking for the terrorists in Elk Grove and Addison. Also losing his bid for reelection was Florida congressman Allen West, who claims that “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion.” Well, that’s one way to get around that pesky 1st amendment.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Muslim community still shares many core values with Republicans, the same core issues that attracted most Muslims to the Republican Party in the first place. Muslims haven’t changed their views on limited government, or the superiority of the traditional nuclear family, or the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship. A Republican Party that focused on its core principles rather than on demonizing a minority as a way to score cheap political points would find support among the American Muslim community again.

Look, I don’t want to be a party-line voter. It does Muslims no good to be identified with a single political party – we run the risk of being taken advantage of by the Democratic Party, while having our needs completely ignored by the Republicans. And I look forward to the day, hopefully in the near future, when I once again vote for a Republican candidate. If Chris Christie — who unlike Romney has forcefully denounced “the crazies” (his term, not mine) — runs for president, I’ll give him full consideration.

But first, the Republicans have to stop insinuating that I’m alien to this nation. They have to stop implying that I support terrorists. They have to stop accusing me of being anti-American. And they need to denounce anyone in their ranks who does those things. That, I’m afraid, is not negotiable.

18 Responses

  1. One of the reasons the Obama is a secret Muslim theory is even more ridiculous than the obvious is because if Obama was a Muslim he likely would have much more conservative positions on social issues.


  2. OT: Is it self-plagiarism when you publish an essay in a newspaper that you have previously posted on your blog?


  3. Mike, thanks for sharing this link:

    It’s related, Kelley.


  4. My father has become an anti-Islamic bigot. He is constantly telling stories of the Muslim conspiracies to overthrow the West. He became an embarrassment to my son who had Muslim and Hindu friends at school. He is retired in Florida and also talks about how Mexican labor in the construction industry has destroyed the livelihoods of white tradesman. Finally, hardly a week goes by that he doesn’t e-mail some crypto-racist Obama joke.

    There is a faction of the Republican Party catering to these prejudices and it is ugly and destructive. As that article tells, immigrants are the natural ally of a pro-business GOP but Republican xenophobia is destroying their growth outside the aging white male base.


  5. The anti-immigrant sentiment of the GOP is my biggest disagreement with them, although in fairness, “anti-illegal immigration” tends to get lumped in with “anti-immigration.”

    We have a demographic problem with SS and Medicare. We can either go back in history and change fertility rates, raise taxes / cut benefits, or increase immigration. Not only that, I think that the perception than people immigrate into this country and go right on the dole is incorrect – they, if anything, create start businesses and create jobs.


  6. Hmm. My last comment was cryptic. Here is Rany’s somewhat more strident but very similar post from his website.


  7. Mike:

    And here I thought you were going to send something to a newspaper that you’d written here! 🙂 I think it really only counts as cutting and pasting. . . as long as there’s no copyright involved you can say the same thing over and over and over again. You just might bore people.


  8. Michi:

    It’s just that Jonah Lehrer got into big trouble doing something similar. I’m wondering why Rany’s essay isn’t the same thing because it is clear that he posted on his blog before the WaPo essay was published.


  9. Hmmmmmmm

    I had to Google that. I think where Lehrer ran into trouble was that he was publishing on numerous third party blogs (not just his own) and, presumably, getting paid or otherwise compensated for the postings. Rany’s was just his own.

    At least, that’s my take on it.


  10. Hmm. I don’t like the self-plagiarizing aspect (though true of academic research). He wrote a blog post that got enough attention to be upgraded to a Post op-ed. Once published in a copyrighted article, that work is now Post property.

    One factor for Republicans to consider. They went from winning 70% of the Muslim vote to 4%. How many portions of the electorate will they alienate before it’s too late? I do think it’s a fringe of the party, but denunciations such as John McCain of Michelle Bachmann are all too infrequent.



  11. Paul:

    I think a large part of why his post resonated with me was that I feel (to a lesser extent) attacked the same way by the Republican party. So they’ve alienated me, too. Yes, it’s the fringe, but the fringe is ruling them right now.


    • Speaking of attacks, Kelley, do you take exception to the notion that Petraeus’ biographer was somehow a villain in this piece?

      I have no trouble with characterizing the twins as evil – see

      But it seems to me that the biographer may be being prejudged in an ugly way as “the other woman”. Judging her as a bit manic seems appropriate to me, considering her actual achievements and her overreach and braggadocio, which do not survive fact checking. Those traits are common to unmedicated, bright, bipolar 2 folks.

      You’ve been around folks like all of the players here, and you are an extraordinary achiever yourself, so I am very curious about your take.


  12. Certain aspects resonated with me as well. Rudy Guiliani and Newt Gingrich both attacked the interfaith center in Manhattan. Both at times led the Republican primary and neither was denounced by their party.

    Let’s say that the your church planned a new church, temple or mosque on Columbia Pike near the Pentagon. How would you feel if that unleashed a stream of vitriol on national news? A close friend of mine is a Quaker (and I went to a few services of the Friends on my own). What if every Quaker was attacked as a coward for not serving in the military?

    Hey folks, thanks for delivering another constituency to the Democratic party. How’s that working out for you?



  13. Mark:

    I am so conflicted. . . .

    First, as an ROTC grad I have a very deep-seated distrust of West Point grads They are all, and have always been AFAIC, self-serving and self-involved. I understand why the Academies were created and the good they’ve done. . . but from one who’s been on the inside they aren’t all that great. We called them “ring knockers”.

    Second, it takes a very special group of talents to make it as a woman on the inside. so it doesn’t surprise me that Broadwell is an amazing woman.

    When it boils right down to it, I keep coming back to I blame both of them equally. Yes, he outranked her, but she should have known better. And yes, she’s hot, but he should have known better. So portraying her as evil is wrong, but portraying her as out for her own good is probably right on.

    I don’t know if she’s bipolar–she sounds a lot like a lot of the women I knew when I was in who didn’t know why they were there but were looking for a challenge. Both of the women in this case sound to me like frustrated Type A personalities looking for something to do. And they chose stupidly.


    • Thanks for the inside view. When I defended courts martial at Ft. Hood in ’72-’73 the junior officers who were OCS and ROTC were the enlisted men’s leaders but the West Pointers were disliked. If an enlisted guy was getting a raw deal on a CM I could count on his 2dLt. for help on gathering witnesses, but not if he were WP. I thought that was all different now.


  14. We have a demographic problem with SS and Medicare. We can either go back in history and change fertility rates, raise taxes / cut benefits, or increase immigration. Not only that, I think that the perception than people immigrate into this country and go right on the dole is incorrect – they, if anything, create start businesses and create jobs.

    Uh-oh. I happen to agree with brent. Is the world going to end?

    michi, thanks for the insight into women in the military. (And thanks to you too, mark, for asking the questions.)


  15. @mark,

    It is funny, when I was a junior officer, most of the infractions people got nailed for were as black and white as it comes – failing a urinalysis, coming back from leave a day late, missing ship’s movement. While I would tend to give my guys the benefit of the doubt, most of the situations I encountered didn’t leave enough gray area for that at all.


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