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Posted in: Islam

Published on Feb 04, 2008 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

The American Election is All About… Islam


C’mon, whom are we kidding? How big does the elephant have to be before we’ll agree to discuss it? This coming American election is not just about universal health care–it is also about the survival of the free world as we have come to know it. And therefore, all about Islam.

If we say we are for women’s rights or for human rights, then a candidate’s gender, skin-color, or age may not be as important as their ideas about Islam.

Do our candidates understand that we are really at war and that we cannot talk our way out of it? That charm, even of the spellbinding variety, is not enough, nor can we “take a meeting,” Hollywood-style, or Tammany-Hall style, to set things right. Nor is simple, old-fashioned heroics the answer to the kind of Orwellian propaganda and guerilla-terrorism that America and our allies will continue to confront in the 21st century.

Does our next President understand that we have to fight with everything we have and risk losing it all in order to hold onto any of it?

Does our next President understand that a western concept of human rights is a universal vision and that America cannot protect such rights only for American women and then turn our backs on women in the Third World? Isolationism is cowardly, interventionism is both dangerous and almost doomed to failure; we need a new dialectical method to resolve these two seemingly intractable opposites.

Certain burning issues require immediate, not gradual solutions. Our dependence on Arab oil (a tragic addiction) must end. Alternate sources of energy must be found in a very short period of time. (Watch the Israeli electric car project). We must enact effective legislation to combat human sexual slavery/trafficking–but this is a global, not merely a national problem. While we may not be able to do so for the whole world, America must, finally, ameliorate the terrible suffering due to economic disparities at home.

Here is a question that an American President needs to answer.

Is revealing the truth about a particular religion or about its followers–be they Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish, tantamount to insulting or reviling someone else’s religion? If not–or rather, if only one group experiences the “truth” or any criticism, both valid and invalid, as an insult, what is the remedy? Sensitivity training about Islam for the presumably “Islamophobic” or sensitivity training about western standards of tolerance for too-easily injured Muslims?

This particular question will (or should) play a major role in the forthcoming American election which is not only about two individuals or two political parties but is also about defending the free world from barbarism, intolerance, and apartheid.

It’s bigger than World War Two. Bigger than Vietnam. Even bigger than the Superbowl.

Yes, I know, America is far from perfect–but compared to Iran or Sudan we are….better. Live with it.

In my last post, I wrote about Muslim taxi drivers whose private religious beliefs about wine, pork, and dogs led to behaviors towards passengers which were considered, at trial, to be crimes in North America. I also described a network of Muslim taxi drivers in the UK which, according to a government report, tracks and returns Muslim girls and women who are in flight from abuse and from being honor murdered. I did not indict all Muslim taxi drivers. Indeed, I was careful to write that many Muslim taxi drivers are also polite and courteous and that many non-Muslim drivers are not.

It wasn’t enough. The politically correct police turned out, not in droves, but with great passion. They thought I was saying things that I had not said. They were afraid that “people” would use my words to restrict Muslim immigration, profile or imprison Muslims, bar Muslims from working as taxi drivers, etc.

But I did not write any of this nor do I think it.

This issue is another thorny one, just like the Islamic headscarf.

Here’s what you must remember when you fear that your most creative or practical ideas might be “racist” : Repeat, as a mantra, that Muslims and people of color are also being victimized by Islamist suicide killers and tyrants; and that to date, it is Muslims who suffer most from Islamic gender apartheid.

But, we must wrestle with certain questions over a long period of time. There are no quick or easy answers. Do we ban the headscarf–and keep angry-and-intolerant Muslim men out of the service professions? Isn’t that profiling? And isn’t profiling racist? Just realize: If the “good” people do not start wrestling with these difficult questions, the “bad” people will step right in and do it for us.


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