According to a poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released Thursday, nearly one in five Americans believe Obama is a Muslim. There was also a strong linkage between those who wrongly believe Obama is a Muslim and those who disapprove of the job he is doing as president. Not surprisingly, the sharpest rise in those who say Obama is a Muslim is among Republicans (up 14 points) since 2009.
This issue at hand is not the fact that Republicans are making false accusations about the president but, more importantly, that they are fabricating stories about someone’s faith to win political points. What does a person’s religion have anything to do with his/her performance?
When Republicans say they disapprove of Obama because he is a Muslim, they make it shameful to be an American. But to be an American is to appreciate those that you may not necessarily agree with it or even understand. To be an American is to practice religious tolerance and promote diversity. That is why Obama has made strides to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and grant gay couples the same rights as every other American. That’s why Obama supports the First Amendment right of freedom of religion.
Neither Obama nor I are Muslim. But I ask you: so what if we were Muslim? Since when is that a bad thing? Maybe we should look back at Obama’s Cairo Speech in 2009, when he said, “as long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity."
When Republicans say a mosque near Ground Zero would “defile sacred ground”, they start to make the religion of Islam a criticism of American values. Since Muslims are every bit of Americans than those that make up the Republican Party, it does not matter whether the mosque will actually be more of a community center than a religious shrine; or that it will not physically be located on Ground Zero, but more than a few miles away from it. What matters is that those who have lost loved ones during the 9/11 attacks, including Muslims, have a right to build a place of worship near the site.
Republicans are also endangering Americans' national security by legitimizing the claims of Al Qaeda that wants Muslims around the world to believe the U.S. is at war with all of Islam, not just the extremists.
We, as a nation, have already witnessed the horrors and tragedies that accompany segregation and intolerance of those that are different from us. It seems, however, that the civil rights movement is in full swing again. When will Republicans learn from the past? When will Republicans start acting like Americans?