Obama - Post Election Effect: Defeat or Opportunity?
Staff Writer, November 24, 2008
Ever since the US President-elect Barack Obama appointed Rahm Emanuel as the Chief of Staff and his subsequent choice of Sonal Shah as one of the top advisers to help him assemble his team has brought discontentment among the Muslims, in general and the Muslim media, in particular. The reason being Rahm Emanuel has strong Israeli partisan and Sonal Shah hails from the family that is affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist organization in India.
Before delving further, let us do some sanity check.
Like Americans, Muslims felt a significant level of anger and frustration towards Bush administration; the war in Iraq, excessive spending, the rising cost of gasoline and healthcare, and the urgent need for improvements in infrastructure in places such as New Orleans and Minneapolis, to name a few, have caused many to seek fresh solutions to these and other challenges facing our nation.
Barack Obama ran on a "change" platform countering Bush administration's policies and ran a tough Democratic primary race against Sen. Hillary Clinton where he was accused of being a Muslim; he had to distance himself from his pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright over his controversial remarks even though it was related to the African American community only; later he had to leave Trinity church on Chicago's Southside after more than 20 years of worship there, a week after a video of a visiting pastor, Rev. Michael Pfleger, surfaced where he mocked Hillary Clinton for being a white elitist who felt entitled to the nomination etc.
Obama chose not to visit the mosques for his campaign; however, his campaign did send the representatives for the election forums conducted by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) across the United States.
There were times, Muslims expressed disappointment over Obama for being on the defensive side when he was accused of being a Muslim until he said, "You know, there are wonderful Muslim Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things," in CNN's Larry King Live. "And for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate. And it's not what America's all about."
Obama appointed Mazen Asbahi, a Chicago based attorney as the National Coordinator for Muslim American Affairs for the Obama '08 Presidential Campaign until Asbahi stepped down as a result of questionable internet accusations, loosely connecting him to a foreign religious organization.
When the 89% of Muslims voted for Obama on Nov 4th, they knew that the Obama's administration is not going to make a 180-degree shift on the past administration's policies on Day One but certainly knew that they could at least overcome the Islamophobia the hate-filled movie, "Obsession," created when it was distributed by special interest groups to over 28 million homes. Also, the Muslims were tactical in keeping their presidential preference a secret, fearing that an endorsement from them might in fact work against Obama. After all, this was an election year in which the word "Muslim" was used as shorthand to connote anti-American leanings and a hidden love of terrorism.
After the election, one cannot agree more than what Soundvision.com stated in its newsletter recently, " he (Obama) is only human and he has the potential to continue the errors of the past administration unless we become active participants, as we must. We must move beyond the elections. We must remember that "change" was the buzzword of this campaign and change is what we must work for with our new leader."
It is worth mentioning that the Los Angeles Times that endorsed Obama for the Presidential candidate went on to publish a fascinating article after his victory on Obama's foreign policy that will face a reality check and stated, "What a candidate promises and what he can deliver are often miles apart, as Obama's predecessors can tell him."
Regardless of Obama's appointees, it is imperative that American Muslims should remain engaged in the political process and get involved in intelligent dialogue, and constructive engagement, which should continue to contribute to our country and enrich the lives of freedom-loving people everywhere otherwise Muslims will keep grumbling forever.