The question of Barack Obama’s faith and background keeps coming up. Despite his long-held Christian faith, the rumors that he is a Muslim persist. An April poll showed that 1 in 10 Americans thought Obama was a Muslim (one would hope that number would have dropped in the months since).
Is Barack Obama a Muslim? No. (Visit IsBarackObamaAMuslim.com for the short answer.)
But what if he was? Who cares?
Is Barack Obama an Arab, as McCain crowds in Minnesota seem to think (yes, I’m embarrassed for my state)? No. His father is from Kenya, his mother is from Kansas (hey, my mom’s from Kansas!) and he was born in Hawaii.
Again, but what if he was an Arab? Who cares? Continue reading Is Barack Obama a Muslim? Who Cares?
Is it me, or is Minnesota some kind of flashpoint for Muslim conflict? There were the Muslim taxi drivers refusing to carry alcohol, there were the six Muslim imams booted off a U.S. Airways flight, there was the charter school allegedly teaching Islam and now we’ve got Muslim tortilla workers fired for dress code violations.
Freedom of religion is turning into a frontline battle in Minnesota. What I find so perplexing is the double standard Muslims seem to face. Once upon a time Christians were in the same boat.
So far the Star Trib article covering the tortilla caper has 536 comments (though I urge you not read them—a newspaper article with comments is kind of stupid; it’s not quite the same as a personal blog entry). The infuriating comment the Star Trib highlights is bad enough:
Immigrate = Assimilate
“I don’t understand why recent immigrants have refused to embrace the American way of life. Why did you come here if you don’t want to change any of your behaviors? When my relatives came here, they learned to speak English and embraced the norms of American society. You can still love and respect your culture, but to live in American means to be an Americann.”
I’ve always understood being American to mean we have the freedom to live the way we want, not being forced to embrace a certain lifestyle. These kind of ‘Immigrate=Assimilate’ arguments always frustrated me. The initial immigrants to the U.S. (i.e., colonists) hardly assimilated with the natives—they just conquered them. The Native Americans were always the ones learning multiple languages and serving as translators while the Europeans sat idly by with their sole language. Times apparently don’t change.
And apparently we’ve forgotten the lack of assimilation of our forefathers. The church my mom and grandparents grew up in was founded by German immigrants and held German services well into the 20th century, long after everyone got off the boat.
I think the U.S. is quickly reaching a point where the dominant culture is no longer white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant males, and it’s freaking some people out. Welcome to the minority.
A little more than a month ago I wrote about a local Twin Cities columnist up in arms about a charter school. Katherine Kersten claimed the school, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), illegally blurred the lines of church and state by forcing Islamic prayer and instruction. The Minnesota Department of Education has investigated and their report said: “MDE has determined that, with regard to the areas reviewed, most of TIZA’s operations are in compliance with state and federal law.” The investigation did find two “areas of concern” that TIZA will need to address, moving a Friday voluntary prayer session off campus and adjusting the busing schedule to bus kids home at the end of the school day, not only after voluntary after-school activities (which include religious and secular offerings).
The whole story seems kind of dumb to me. There were some valid questions that needed to be addressed (and they are), but the entire tone and approach of the original attack is ridiculous. It brought out the worst of Minnesota when the school in question started receiving threats and had to bring in extra security. It gets even more ridiculous when a state legislator called for Kersten to resign and Kersten responded with a blog post of her own. And there’s even more ridiculousness when a KSTP camera crew showed up at the school and got in a fight with school officials. What?
This whole story is quickly becoming absurd. It’s embarrassing for the local media, the TIZA school (who lost the high ground with that camera crew incident) and Minnesota in general. More than anything this shows how very far we have to go before we can understand and get along with Muslims.
Update: It gets even better when you learn that KARE11 did have permission to film at TIZA and they filmed the whole encounter with KSTP (and apparently posted their b-roll online).
There’s also a nice blow-by-blow comparison of Kersten’s allegations and what the Minnesota Department of Education actually found.
I should start by admitting I’ve hardly followed the story of U.S. military Koran abuse in Afghanistan that didn’t really happen as Newsweek reported, but still touched off riots in the Muslim world that killed several people. I know enough to know that it happened, that it’s another blow to the credibility of journalists, and that it’s touched off another abuse scandal in the U.S. military.
But I was talking to a friend the other night about the issue, and he wondered why everyone was so quick to blame Newsweek and the U.S. military. Surely some of the blame belongs there for irresponsible reporting and potential abuses, but neither Newsweek nor the U.S. military killed anyone. Why hasn’t anyone blamed the rioters?
Continue reading Why Not Blame Koran Rioters?
Interesting article from The Guardian about Franklin Graham’s Operation Christmas Child: The evangelicals who like to giftwrap Islamophobia (link via jordoncooper)
Having been laid-off by Franklin’s plans to relocate the BGEA, I am a bit biased, but this story is a bit over the top. Franklin certainly deserves a verbal spanking for his insensitivity to Islam given the current political climate (heck, Franklin deserves a verbal spanking for a lot of things), but I think it’s overstating the case to say that you can’t give humanitarian and spiritual
relief at the same time. One shouldn’t be a prerequisite for the other, but at the same time when someone asks why, you have little recourse but to tell them.
Though I did find myself agreeing with this comment: “US evangelicals employ a selective biblical literalism to support a theology that systematically confuses the kingdom of God with the US’s burgeoning empire.”
I certainly wouldn’t say evangelicals in general do that, but some Christians do equate U.S. power with the kingdom of God. We are a growing empire/superpower, but like every nation we will come to an end.