What If Barack Obama Were a Muslim?!

obama-muslim-350Let me preface my remarks by stating unequivocally that none of the following hypotheses are true, but what if they were? 

What if Barack Hussein Obama were a Muslim?  I have read the Qu’ran and its principal message is to love one another, to feed the poor, care for the disadvantaged, look after the orphans.  Muhammad stated clearly that Muslims should embrace the Jew and the Christian as equal brothers and sisters.

He supported important roles f or women (consider his own daughter, Fatimah, whose descendants created the Shia branch of the religion).  Fatimah is so revered that she has received numerous monikers, such as The Leader of the Women of the Worlds, the Truthful, Pure, Blessed, Innocent Woman spoken to by angels.

She is venerated in a way similar to how Catholics revere Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  In fact, a Qur’anic exegesis “links the praise of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with that of Fatimah based on a quote attributed to Muhammad that lists the outstanding women of all time as MaryAsiya (the wife of Pharaoh), Khadija (the Prophet’s wife), andFatimah. . . .”

Many accuse the Islamic religion of promoting violence.  I think these same people forget the horrendous, bloody wars that are described in graphic detail in the Old Testament, the very book on which Jesus based his own teachings.  Do you recall the “The Song of the Sea” that was joyously chanted to glorify the Lord who had been the chief defender and deliverer of the Israelites as they crossed the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds).  They praised God while they, at the same time, cheered the deaths of their Egyptian pursuers as the fledgling Jewish community fled the tyrannous grip of Pharaoh’s directives?  That has always made me feel uncomfortable, yet it is there.

Undoubtedly, the indisputable message of both the Holy Scriptures and the Qur’an is not about the early histories of the people but that of Tzedakah (the Jewish mandate to help those less fortunate) and Zakat (Islamic voluntary charity, one of the Five Pillars of  Islam)–the altruistic dictum for caring for and giving to others.

We already have two wonderful Muslim leaders in Congress:  Keith Ellison, Congressmember from Minnesota’s 5th, who has supported legislation such as reducing student debt, supporting the Affordable Health Care Law for Minnesotans (and for the nation as a whole), and taxing the most profitable speculative financial institutions that will produce billions of dollars (which they can easily afford) to invest in our communities in order to relieve the suffering and heavy burdens carried by the poor and the middle class.

André Carson, from Indiana’s  7th District, strongly supports the Jewish community and stands up for Israel’s ability to be a recognized nation and to defend itself.  He also fights for consumer protections, for alleviating poverty in our country, and for providing affordable housing (among other issues he espouses).

President Obama is, in fact, a Christian (born, reared, and practicing), but if he were Muslim, it is a religion from which no one should shrink or be in denial.  We started out in this country as a place for religious freedom (not always successful in practice) and thus this ideal was important enough for our forebears to place it prominently in our First Amendment.  Ellison and Carson are proud of who they are and what their principles represent, in part based on the Islamic creed.  Difficult to oppose Muslims who stand for such laudable policies!

Personally, I look forward to the time when we democratically elect our first Muslim President—perhaps even a woman!

What if the President were a socialist?  I have always considered myself a democratic socialist.  Does that make me a lesser person?  I think not.  I support Medicare, Medicaid, MediCal—don’t you?

I willingly pay taxes for police and fire protection and paramedic services.  What about FEMA when there is a catastrophic event?  I eagerly support my public schools (and would have even if I had not been a teacher for over 37 years in the public system).  I am pleased and feel safer when I drive over roads and bridges and other infrastructures that have been built and maintained for our benefit.

Although my family has outstanding health, vision, and dental care, I am so excited for the rest of Americans (some of whom have never had health coverage) who can now receive affordable care.

Shall I go on?  I think you get my point.  All of the above are undeniably socialistic practices.

Socialism, by definition, is an economic (not political) system through which the “economic and moral defect of capitalism” is addressed.  From each according to his ability to each according to his need.  Capitalism, on the other hand, can be, in fact, a good thing with its incentives to create, be productive, and (for its investors) make profits from capitalism’s efforts.  But, according to socialist views, profits should be reasonable and excesses should be shared.  “Individuals do not live or work in isolation but live in cooperation with one another.”

Our communities are interactive.  We depend on each other.  And, if we fall short (despite our best efforts), we need to know that our brothers and sisters will look after us until we can get back on our feet.  If I remember correctly, the Bible says something about being our brother’s keeper.  We should not lose sight of that.  So if Mr. Obama were a socialist, would that be such a bad thing?! 

What if Mr. Obama were born in Africa?  He was born in Hawai’i, of course, and thus is a native-born American citizen.  How many times does he need to be challenged on this fact?  For that matter, how many times have youever been asked to show your own birth certificate to go to college or obtain a job or even run for office?  I don’t remember ever having to produce one.  I cannot imagine having to provide a badge or card to prove who I am—it reminds me too much of the days of the Holocaust.   I simply would refuse to produce such a document.  I live in America, after all!  I would be more than willing to go to jail if that were my only alternative! 

Naturalized citizens have always been able to run for any office in this land except for President and Vice President   I have long been an advocate to allow these citizens to run for those positions as well.  Back in the days when our Constitution was being written, there was the very valid concern that America could return to a monarchy—there were many leaders, even then, who supported return to the rule of King George.

Our nation, however, has the long-established tradition of being a democratic republic, and no one in his or her right mind really believes that America, now or at any time in the future, would fall to a foreign sphere of influence.  In the intervening years since the late 1700s, we have lost far too many opportunities for superior leadership at the top because such people had not been born in America (although people like John McCain and Ted Cruz can legally skirt this issue because of “loopholes” in the law).

It is time that a Constitutional Amendment be introduced and passed so that outstanding and proven leaders like Czechoslovakian-born Madeleine Albright (first female Secretary of State), Polish-born Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor), British-born U.S. Representative Ron Barber of Arizona, Japanese-born U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Iranian-born Jimmy Delshad (Mayor of Beverly Hills), and so many others could and should be able to run for the highest offices if they chose to do so!

Can you imagine if Barack Obama were really born in Kenya, how many contributions to this nation he would not have been able to make?  Now that is food for thought!  Without doubt, however, he was born in the sunniest of states, the 50th, the Aloha State of Hawai’i.

I love my President for all that he is—for his altruistic policies; for his quiet but persistent, behind-the-scenes approach to making change happen; for his being a role model for what a good husband, father, son, and friend should be—for what the picture of family ought to be.

He is not as the far-right describes him.  He is innocent of their outrageous accusations.  Wall Street is seeing its highest numbers ever and the unemployment rate is lower than it has been in years.  Our troops are out of Iraq, and Syria and Iran seem willing to create a safer region for their own people and for the rest of the world.  All people in our own land must now be treated as equals before the law (which includes the military).

Furthermore, our statutes embrace the right to marry those whom we love, regardless of who they are or what they might represent to others.  There is equal pay for equal work.  There is affordable healthcare for everyone.  And lest we forget, all this has transpired under President Obama’s leadership and his collaboration with others.

Don’t believe the naysayers.  Take joy in the tangible realities.  Let us look forward to three more years of wonderful possibilities (if only the obstructionists would see the light).  At this time of Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s, our gifts to each other ought not to be perpetuation of stereotypes, bigotry, biases, or preconceived notions; rather, the greatest gifts would be passing on acceptance, tolerance, understanding, and love.

Let’s make that notion our New Year’s resolution for 2014!

Rosemary Jenkins
CityWatchLA

Published by the LA Progressive on December 25, 2013
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About Rosemary Jenkins

Rosemary Jenkins is Chair, Northeast Valley Green Alliance; Secretary, Pro-Active Democrats; Chair, AD 39, LA County Democratic Party, and a freelance writer.