This Muslim Moment

October 3, 2012


Post by Joseph M –

Let’s just admit it now and get it out of the way: Romney looked strong in tonight’s debate, and President Obama seemed  as if he didn’t want to offend anyone.  Well, the Presidential race may have gotten a little more interesting – especially because the undecided voters (those who tend to have no idea what is going on in politics) may have been watching this evening.  And if they tuned in to this debate without the back story… then maybe Romney came out ahead?

The next two debates will both cover foreign policy, and the final debate is focusing exclusively on this topic.  And it is here that Romney may have found an opening: there is strong indication that the American officials at the Libyan consulate made several requests for extra security before the attack on September 11th that killed the US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans there.  Additionally, the State Department is reversing its former statements that the attack on the consulate was a result of popular protests due to American-made anti-Muslim video, “The Innocence of Muslims;” the State Dept now confirms that this was actually a coordinated terrorist attack.

Romney is rumored to be planning a coordinated attack of his own on President Obama’s foreign policy record in order to assert that Obama is weak on terrorists.  This would be a much-needed boon after his “shoot-first-and-aim-laterstatement on the evening of the attack in Benghazi and then his 47% comment that caused some Mormons to cringe.  Romney will need to continue to boost his image after the debate this evening, and maybe this is it.

Yes, Romney needs to seize upon this Muslim Moment.

But I wonder what is really going on here.  Maybe this is an area that Romney should avoid altogether.  Seriously folks, this is the President that killed Osama bin Laden. I mean, is it possible that the only voters who might respond to the idea that President Obama is weak on Islamic terrorism are those who believe that Obama is himself a Muslim?

Of course, Obama supporters do not require convincing that the President is the man for the job; it’s just like tonight’s debate – if one already supports Obama, then Mitt Romney’s red-bull-infused attack did nothing more than cause a slightly irritating rash on the proverbial backside of listener’s intellect.  (And poor poor Big Bird.  As one tweet asked: “doesn’t Big Bird live on the street?; Romney hates the homeless.”)

Anyway, I am amazed by how many questions still abound about Obama’s religiosity and faith, and many come from our fellow Mormon brothers and sisters.  Interestingly enough, some of these same Mormons also question the faith and commitment of us here at Mormons for Obama, as evidenced by the constant trickle of hate mail we receive. (One would assume that since we Mormons are often challenged regarding our Christianity, we would be careful not to level the same charges at someone else.)  Alas, this is not so.

We recently received a comment that expressed a considerable amount of disdain for President Obama and our support for him. The commenter disparaged Obama as a “lover of Islam,” and went on to say that she would not allow him to watch over her dog, “less (sic) alone my grandchildren.” (To which I ask, did Obama even ask to babysit her grandchildren?) But she does have a point about Obama watching her dog, although I would add that both Romney and Obama carry baggage in this department; Romney’s baggage is on the roof of his car, while Obama’s is on his plate.

In the end I deleted the comment, seeing that it did not follow our guidelines of civil discourse. Obviously, this begs the question as to why I would review its content here – giving it more prominence than what it possibly deserves.

Well, first I wish to correct the assertion that Obama is a Muslim. Clearly, this woman, like many others, believes every anti-Obama email forward she receives in her inbox (which, I will add, is producing another convert to Mormons for Obama. Read this hilarious piece by Mark Saal.) She also must have arrived late to the town hall where John McCain rebuked a woman (and a member of the Blood gang?) for saying something similar.  If Obama says he is Christian, why would it behoove us Latter-day Saints to question this?

But this leads to an even a more important aspect of this whole debate: it does not matter whether our President is Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, or even a Mormon.  In fact, I would vote for Obama even if he was Muslim, and I am pleased that Minnesota elected our first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison.  We are a country of many cultures, ethnic groups, and religious affiliations.  If I feel I cannot trust a Muslim to properly represent my views and interests on a national or local level, then why should we expect an American Muslim, Buddhist, or Jew to accept a Christian president?

Many people became very upset when a mosque was proposed at a site near Ground Zero.  This hostility seemed to imply that all Muslims are somehow responsible for the events of 9/11. However, this public battle failed to acknowledge or demostrate the proper respect for the lives of the many innocent American Muslims who were lost in the World Trade Center attacks.  Of course, my argument is not new.

Regardless, many people continue to assert that Islam is a violent faith; however, I caution that we don’t need to look too far to find violence in Christianity – and I am not just speaking of the Holy Wars: bombings of abortion clinics, Jones, Koresh, Northern Ireland, and Mountain Meadows, all happened under the banner of heaven.

I don’t know everything about Islam, but I am unconvinced that Muslim Americans are somehow less American than Christians, or that consequently, a Muslim is somehow less qualified to be President of the United States.  The Christian Right often states that America was founded on Christian principles, but one only need to watch the season finale of Sorkin’s The Newsroom to know that this is not exactly true.  Maggie spent all evening to find the supporting quotations from our founding fathers – but it took me 30 seconds: Top 5 Myths About America.  (Will MacAvoy, hire me please?  –and where were you tonight?  The tired Jim Leher could’ve used your crib notes.)  See this article on Wikipedia as well, because Wikipedia is always correct.

But I will quote one of our founding fathers here:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people who declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

 And by the way Fox Newsies, the Pledge of Allegiance had its famous line, “one nation under God,” added to it in 1954 by our other founding father, President Eisenhower. See this article.

In the end, I believe that Obama is adept at handling our troubles in the Middle East.  Romney might possibly attempt to seize upon this anti-Muslim Moment and use it (as Bush the W. did before him) to stoke fear in the more bigoted hearts of America.  But as this article explains, it is high time we separated church and hate.  Obama has demonstrated how to do this; far from being the great apologizer as Romney accuses him of being, President Obama has exhibited true Christianity time and time again.  As Eric R. pointed out in his post:

(B)eyond the common sense reasons to be culturally sensitive to the Muslim faith…, there is another reason, an even better reason, for being thoughtful.  That reason, of course, is because it is the right thing to do.  Rather than subscribing to Krauthamer’s ‘only do good unto others when they have done good unto you’ worldview, I am more inclined to go with another philosophy, something more like ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

So Romney can debate on and on and on; some may listen and believe.  However, a quick tongue and a smart retort in tonight’s contest doesn’t obscure the fact that President Obama understands this country (beyond its capitalistic leanings) and its extremely important place in the world at large.  And yes – even the Muslim world.  Once again, I affirm my support for the President in 2012.

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8 Comments on “This Muslim Moment”

  1. Scott Says:

    I and everyone else know what you meant, but one slight typo…You got Obama instead of Osama…Great post.

  2. Convert for Obama Says:

    Thank you for another well written article! I actually liked the subdued demeanor of our president tonight; it just confirmed the obvious: he is a genuinely nice person. He smiled and kept his cool while Mr. Romney threw all kinds of non-facts at him. Compared to the red-faced, agitated governor, president Obama’s calmed and compassionate attitude looked Christ-like to me.
    Loved Mr. Saal’s satirical article; h i l a r i o u s. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Anne Caroline Drake Says:

    “Church and hate” is an apt description of our religious intolerance. Compassion and love are at the cornerstone of all the world’s religions, but they seem to be in short supply for some “Christians.” I deeply admire the courage and strength of character of Mormons for Obama.

    Pres. Obama’s greatest strength is that he refuses to treat anyone with disrespect. In some circles, this is perceived as a weakness. Yet, I was disappointed that he didn’t do a better job of calling Gov. Romney on many blatantly false statements or his penchant for obfuscating the truth. Maybe this is why he chose to be a constitutional scholar rather than a litigator ~ he lacks the ruthless gene ~ which IMHO is a good thing.

  4. BDUB Says:

    I felt like President Obama came off as calm, collected and not easily offended. Ultimately, he came off as Presidential. Former Governor Romney came off as manic and rude. I’m worried that now after this “loss” the President will be coached to be more aggressive and rude. I don’t think it’s a good look.

  5. nana k (@jhspoljunkie) Says:

    I so appreciate the way you put into words the thoughts that rattle around my head. Thank you.

  6. NorthwestPatriot Says:

    I seriously cannot understand how Mormons can support liberals in general and Obama specifically. I am not a Republican, but would instead consider myself to be a conservative leaning even toward Libertarianism.

    There were two plans once put forward. One plan called for people to make their own decisions and to live up to certain responsibilities voluntarily, and then to be judged accordingly. For doing so they would be rewarded. Under this plan all people would be responsible for themselves and there actions.

    Another plan was put forth where people would have no choice and would be forced to live in a way that they would be able to return to live with the father. Under this plan no one would be lost since no one would have a choice.

    To me the comparison between the liberal position of forcing people (through taxes) to support positions that are contrary to their personal beliefs, and the conservative plan where government is minimized and people are required to be responsible for themselves and (through contributions) responsible to assist others.

    • Maria Says:

      I see things a little differently than you do about the two parties. I’m a centrist; I’ve voted for candidates of both parties. I know that some say the republican party is the party of no or little government involvement, but I disagree. They are just different about the areas where they want to have their say. They want laws based on moral issues but fewer for businesses and money. Fewer environmental restrictions, etc. (Just look at what loosening the regulations on banks did for us.) I’m not anti-business, I just think we have seen that some cannot be trusted be with other people’s money.

      As for the question of agency versus force, we all pay taxes into the system to be (that evil word) “redistributed” to different areas. Military, education, government workers, federal programs, all come from our tax dollars. As a country we don’t say that if you don’t believe in a war or a government program then you are exempt from paying your taxes or that you can direct where you want your tax dollars to go. We also don’t say that we have no criminal laws because people are free to choose what to do. We do say that people cannot always be trusted to do the right thing, so in some matters we make legislation that requires certain standards of behavior for the good of all.

      I marvel when people rail against government assistance for others while they or their family members are taking out student loans, using WIC for their pregnancies or children, receiving grants or unemployment benefits, etc. Or when they are living on social security using medicare and rant about other people receiving government help. They say that is their money that they paid in, but their contribution is long gone, used to support those older than them. That is government assistance.

      I think people are entitled to food and health care and a minimum standard of living. I would much prefer my tax dollars to go to assistance programs than to tax breaks for the wealthy. I don’t think they should have to rely on others’ benevolence.

      For me, President Obama’s positions come closer to my Christian views than Mr. Romney’s. Just as I don’t think people should vote against Romney because he is LDS I don’t think people should just vote for him for the same reason.

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