The New York Times says that Muslims in America feel snubbed by Barack Obama. Well, I don’t feel snubbed. I don’t feel snubbed because I have never been courted for my "Muslimness". I am not used to being courted so I don’t know what being politically snubbed feels like.
The Muslim vote is the stealth voting bloc in American politics. It is highly likely that Muslims in 2008 will play a major role in electing Barack Obama to the presidency, yet Barack Obama stands to lose politically if he courts the Muslim vote. That is Obama’s dilemma, and that is the essence of the Muslim double-smear that has so far been used effectively against Obama.
In 2006 Muslims in Virginia came out in overwhelming numbers to help elect Jim Webb to the United States Senate. I was one of those who cast his vote for Webb. Webb won the Senate by 9329 votes out of over 2.3 million votes cast. According to the New York Times, about 86% of the estimated 60,000 registered Muslim voters turned out and voted overwhelmingly for Webb. Webb’s razor-thin margin of victory was dwarfed by the number of Muslims that voted for him. It was a constituency that was pivotal in putting him in office.
In November, Virginia will likely be the state that will hold Barack Obama’s presidential hopes in the balance. If the voting goes similar to 2006, with Northern Virginia and Richmond coming out strongly Democratic to offset the overwhelming Republican vote in southwestern Virginia, it will once again be Muslims playing a pivotal role. There’s the rub.
Muslim leaders, according to the New York Times article, are upset because Barack Obama is keeping his distance from them. He is apparently trying to avoid the inevitable photo that will play on a loop on Fox News. And he is right.
So, Muslims in America have a choice. Do you vote for a candidate whose policies are going to do the most to help restore civil liberties and change the "us versus them" mentality we have become used to, or do you vote against the candidate for not pandering to you as a religious bloc because you are radioactive? In 2000, Muslims voted overwhelmingly for the candidate that pandered to them but whose policies have brought us where we are today. The lesson has been learnt. The choice it seems is clear. In 2006, the Muslims in Virginia got it – and we voted our interests.
Muslims in America, get ready for a long summer of hate. As the general election gets more brutal what remaining distance there is between the words "Muslim" and the word "terrorist" will disappear in the political dialect. There will be more smears from the right linking Obama to us (the scary people). There will be more condescending cries from the left for us to just shut up like little children. In the end, none of it will matter. What will matter is your vote. And your vote will most likely determine who will be the next president of the United States. Now, isn’t that ironic.
[Cross posted at the Daily Kos.]