This continued snub of American Muslims is a pathetic performance from Obama and his campaign:
As Senator Barack Obama courted voters in Iowa last December, Representative Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim congressman, stepped forward eagerly to help.
Mr. Ellison believed that Mr. Obama’s message of unity resonated deeply with American Muslims. He volunteered to speak on Mr. Obama’s behalf at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, one of the nation’s oldest Muslim enclaves. But before the rally could take place, aides to Mr. Obama asked Mr. Ellison to cancel the trip because it might stir controversy. Another aide appeared at Mr. Ellison’s Washington office to explain.
“I will never forget the quote,” Mr. Ellison said, leaning forward in his chair as he recalled the aide’s words. “He said, ‘We have a very tightly wrapped message.’ ”***
While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations — unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts — have been ignored. Last week, two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by campaign volunteers from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit.
In interviews, Muslim political and civic leaders said they understood that their support for Mr. Obama could be a problem for him at a time when some Americans are deeply suspicious of Muslims. Yet those leaders nonetheless expressed disappointment and even anger at the distance that Mr. Obama has kept from them.
“This is the ‘hope campaign,’ this is the ‘change campaign,’ ” said Mr. Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota. Muslims are frustrated, he added, that “they have not been fully engaged in it.”
This is utter bullshit, and it is the first time I remember having hot flashes of anger when discussing the Obama campaign. I understand the desire to maintain message discipline, and I understand that the email campaigns have been damaging to the Obama campaign and that many Americans still believe Obama is muslim, and I understand that every campaign needs to tack to the right for the general, but this is just pathetic. It is weak, it is timid, and it is cowardice, and I am extremely disappointed. It is the antithesis of how his campaign has run and everything I like about Barack Obama.
Meet this shit head on, don’t run around avoiding groups because the opposition is filled with sleazy opportunists who will use any smear they can to win the election- they are going to do it anyway. To give you an example of how truly spineless this is, I present you with this flash from the past:
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.
That is the flightsuit in chief, a little over a week after 9/11 in his infmaous “they hate us for our freedom” address, defending Islam and showing more courage than Obama is right now. The message being sent by Obama when he overtly avoids these groups is that there is somehow something wrong with them, a fraudulent and offensive notion if ever there was one. If the Islamic community in the United States were filled with terrorists, or if there was something incompatible with Islam and Democracy, we would have a lot of evidence to prove it, as surely one of the millions of Muslim-Americans would have committed acts of terrorism in the past few years.
That is the message Obama is sending. They may think it is just pragmatism and an attempt to insulate themselves from the “Obama is a Muslim” smears, but it is not just the optics that suck, it is the actual message. The message is there is something wrong with these groups of Americans, that there is something in and of itself wrong with practicing Islam as an American, and you will not find a more craven bit of political calculation than what the Obama campaign is engaging in right now. These are Americans. They pay taxes. They go to work. They care about their kids and their country and they fight in the military and are one of us, and they deserve better from the Obama campaign. Representative Ellison is an elected member of Congress, a member of your party, and you should gladly stand next to him at a rally.
This is sickening. I am embarrassed and disgusted right now, and this type of cowardice needs to stop. Assholes.
*** Update ***
Most of you think I am dead wrong about this and the Obama campaign is right. I think it sucks. I understand what he is dealing with regarding the smears, but I disagree with how he is handling it. I see no reason why he can not easily incorporate the two notions that he does not practice Islam with the belief there is nothing wrong with Islam. Those who believe he is Islamic believe it even though they have been told repeatedly he is not.
Who knows. Maybe this thing just struck a nerve when I read it and I am over-reacting. That is the problem with being a heater.