Friday, November 09, 2007

When Will The Candidates Talk to Us?

While there are a ton of candidates there are only about three, per party, that are being heard. On the Democratic side we hear Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards; on the Republican side we see Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. On team Dem. we see that the most talked about subjects are the Iraq war and health care. For team Rep. we see the same Iraq war and health care but with a bit of immigration sprinkled in.
Yes these issues are very important to all of us. But what about the other issues, the issues that are intertwined with the issues that are dominating the spotlight? What about the economy, the weakening dollar, the rising price of oil, inflation, and the collapse of the housing market? What about the U.S. budget and budget deficit that is in the trillions of dollars? What about Social Security or better yet the ominous future of Social Security? What about education and the complete and utter failure of No Child Left Behind and our diminishing civil rights? I could go on and on as to what ails us and what they should be talking about, but as the candidates stomp around and behave as if they are in a bad WWE melodrama, they are ignoring some of the issues that affect people day in day out.
When will they talk to us and not at us? Yes the war in Iraq is very important to us. We made a mess and now we have to clean it up. It is not going to happen over night, although this war should not have happened in the first place. It seems apparent to me that it would be crazy to pull out from one day to the next simply because the administration was wrong. Now they have to stick it out for better or for worse.
As far as health care, the Dem.’s want to give health care to as many people as possible. How are they going to pay for that? Are they going to raise taxes, people are allergic to that (even though I think it would be a great idea). The Rep.’s think that universal health care would bring back communism. So tell us more, tell us what you think, not what you think we want to hear.
As our President continues to make history, not in a good way, he is attempting to spruce up his image. The White House is a sinking ship. This unenviable task of righting a ship that looks doomed will fall on the candidate that will win this WWE match. Once victory is declared just how will they go about fixing this sinking ship?

Friday, November 02, 2007


It seems to me that Americans have been scared into believing that immigrants from all over the world have become a national security threat. From Latinos who are, falsely perceived to be, taking jobs away from Americans to Muslims who are, falsely perceived to be, seeking to destroy the west. These are misconceptions that have been fed into the mainstream media, carefully crafted, so that fears of the unknown, fear of the few are the prevailing feelings through our society.
Through the media this fear has been fueled. With much fanfare there are news reports both in print and on broadcast of immigrants breaking the law, being jailed and being accused and tried of funding terrorist over seas. At no point here am I denying that crimes have been committed by some immigrants that have crossed our borders but statistically this has happened no more frequently than it happens with those born in the U.S. This can be seen in a recent article, by Eric Herman published in the Chicago Sun-Times on 10-29-07. Ronal Weitzer, a criminologist at George Washington University, was quoted as saying that aliens “are not over-represented [in jails], despite the conventional wisdom that they are much more involved in criminal activity”. So where do these misconceptions come from?
It often seems that there is a large outcry from media sources and web sources, like Hannity and Colmes, Bill O’Reilly and Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project, these are only a few of the sources that fan the flames of fear. They do this by screaming at the top of their lungs every time an illegal immigrant commits a crime, by claiming that they are criminals as soon as they step foot across the border. They do it by howling that organizations such as CAIR have been unindicted co-conspirators to alleged crimes, mind you this means that there is no evidence against CAIR, unfortunately this also means that CAIR has no means to clear its name in a court of law.
The hysteria that surrounds the issues of immigration puzzles me. It is as if there is some confusion as to why immigrants come here. It is as if we, Americans, have forgotten how we got here. One way to look at how the first “Americans” came here is to look at it as refugees. Immigrants coming over seas to make a new life for themselves. So why can’t we remember our own history and allow others to share in that history? A good friend of mine once told me that our parents want us to have everything they couldn’t have. That is why “they” are coming here, to give their children what they could not have.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why We as Muslims MUST Get Involved Now!

Now more than ever, American Muslims are struggling to make their presence felt and their voices heard in this great and diverse nation. In order to make a positive impact on society, participation in the political and civic life of American society is essential. Of course, we as a community have made amazing headway as far as getting our foot in the door of American politics (the recent election of Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota for instance). But we can definitely do more. I’m not talking about the Muslim community fielding a long-shot candidate for U.S. President or something of that nature. The average, rank-and-file Muslim simply needs to get involved and get out there and vote.

In the 2006 film All the King’s Men, Sean Penn’s character verbally assails an audience with the refrain, “If you don’t vote, you don’t matter.!” The time has come for someone to grab a bullhorn, head down to the local mosque, and do the same. Granted, many Muslims are Green Card holders and are not yet citizens. However, this group is still the minority of American Muslims. Most of us are full-fledged citizens, which gives us the same rights and privileges as anyone else!

Many immigrant Muslims are scared to participate in the political process, scared to “make waves” in their adopted countries. The fact of the matter is, that political participation is essential to our very survival as a community. Like Malcolm X said, “If you don’t stand for something, you may fall for anything.” Muslims as a whole must pull themselves out of the intellectual ghettos that many of us find ourselves existing in. A narrow world-view was never condoned by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or the Koran and benefits no one! As new generations of young Muslims are born and raised here in the US and are attending public schools with their non-Muslim brothers and sisters, it is vital for us to ensure that Islamic values are not wiped off the slate of their hearts and minds. What better way to do this than by getting active in American political life?

As politicians at all levels of government began to see the American Muslim community as a vital and valuable constituency, they will also began to be more sensitive to the needs of that constituency. Politics is a two-way street and the Democratic system of representation puts the power in the hands of the people. Want to have basic lessons on Islam mandated in our public schools? Want the chance to offer young Muslims the possibility of Halal lunches as part of their daily public school routine? In communities that have significant populations of Muslims, these things are not out of the realm of possibility (just look at the Dearborn, Michigan school district, for example).

As the visibility and acceptance of our community grows, so should our participation in politics and civic life. American Muslims come in all colors, speak numerous different languages, and come from every possible socio-economic level imaginable. Our extremely diverse community IS a microcosm of America. It is a sad state of affairs that less than half of the population of the United States chooses to exercise their right to vote. But this should be no excuse for Muslims. We can and should rise above the norm and allow ourselves and our civic activities to serve as examples to the rest of the country. Muslims are already breaking down barriers and opening the lines of communication, establishing dialogue with politicians and other communities to help to foster inter-faith tolerance and understanding. This precedent of success should serve as a morale booster for American Muslims. FDR said that, “The only thing to fear is fear itself!” At this point in history, that has never rung truer.