Is Muslim Outreach Possible?
You have to feel
sorry for Barack Obama. His advisers decided long ago to play it safe where the
But by doing so, you give veto power to that same Lobby, including some very nasty neocons who are experts in using guilt by association to promote religious bigotry. That makes finding a Muslim to do national outreach in the Muslim community very, very difficult.
Does your outreach
person go to a mosque? Then he must be a terrorist, because the mosque probably
has some connection with the Islamic Society of North America, and every good
neocon knows that the ISNA is a nest of Wahhabist vipers. Did he or she ever
say anything remotely unkind about the Israeli government? Then he's a secret
supporter of Hamas. Did your outreach person ever criticize
In other words, the only Muslim who wouldn't attract fire from the neocons would be one who regularly (and publicly) endorses Israeli apartheid, who attends only those mosques approved by the Heritage Foundation, who would love to see more U.S.-supported dictatorships in the Middle East, and who fervently desires more genocidal horrors like the occupation of Iraq.
That would please the neoconservatives. But how much credibility would such a person have in the wider Muslim community? Not much I'm afraid. And that defeats the whole purpose of outreach — which may be why McCain's folks have shied away for so long from the whole idea of Muslim outreach.
And that, gentle
readers, brings us to the root causes of Islamophobia in modern
For 60 years, the
Arabic-speaking and Muslim worlds have been telling us that a terrible crime
was committed against the Palestinians when
who in the late 1940s were just beginning to struggle with their long history
of anti-Semitism, decided to redeem their guilt by letting the Zionist
leadership do to the Palestinians what the Christians had done to the Jews —
persecute, kill and marginalize them. It was a Faustian bargain, a classic deal
with the devil. It caused many evangelical Christians to identify with Zionism
as God's will, and it launched rightwing Zionists on their long march to
McCain and Obama
may have to pretend that Muslims don't exist, because the American Muslim is by
definition a prophetic figure, and politicians running for office concentrate
on compromise rather than truth. Personally, I'm grateful that Muslims are in
Lawrence Swaim is
the Executive Director of the Interfaith Freedom Foundation. He taught for
eight years at
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