Muslim freedom, American ignorance
Former Arkansas governor and 2012 presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee found himself in hot water this week after he called Islam the "antithesis of the gospel of Christ" and said that churches that share worship space with Muslims are caving to a religion "that says that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated."
In an analysis of how Islam may shape campaign politics, Politico's Bryon Tau wrote: "As Republican candidates define their national security stands in the 2012 elections, conservative discomfort with Islam in America will be a feature of the debate."
Should Islam be debated on the campaign trail? Are religious issues in danger of being exploited?
To paraphrase Mark Twain, what gets Republican presidential hopefuls in trouble is not what they don't know about Islam, but what they know that just ain't so.
Mike Huckabee's recent comments are but one example of a politician who speaks with authority and discloses how little he knows about the diversity within Islam. After all, Islam has about as many expressions as the Baptist faith to which the former Arkansas governor belongs.
Huckabee's ignorance travels well with his opportunism. He appears to recognize that he can score political points by beating up on Muslims and whipping evangelical Christians into a fearful frenzy.
And as shameful as that is, an even more reprehensible matter is the silence of those who know better.
Speaking from experience, I have been disappointed in goodwill Christians who say the right things in private about seeking common ground with goodwill Muslims, but will not challenge publicly the falsehoods about Islam expressed in their congregations and the public square. They know what is right morally. They also know the political danger of taking on fellow believers who consume a steady diet of deception dished out on Fox News and hate radio. Since one only goes to the cross once, these goodwill Christian leaders have a conundrum of whether this is the right issue and the right time to sacrifice for the greater good.
Consequently, the public square is wide open to politicians and others who would use religion as a wedge issue rather than as a way to appeal to better angels within human beings.
But opportunistic politicians ought to take heed about how they play the Muslim card given the events unfolding across North Africa and the Middle East.
A new popular definition of Muslims is emerging that counters the long-standing stereotype that demonizes all Muslims as extremists. Many Christians are watching the news and seeing people of another faith who share common values--belief in human rights, desire for democracy and concern for the welfare of their families.
This new narrative challenges the well-worn old narrative that Huckabee and others use, making it a lot more difficult to smear an entire faith and to manipulate folk who believe what they see.
Posted by: mansour112 | February 28, 2011 4:55 PM
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Posted by: DebChatterjee | February 24, 2011 12:28 AM
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