Religion and the Midterm elections


I wrote this brief reflection for the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) on the recent US midterm elections.

American civil religion took a massive shellacking all summer in a momentum that reached into the fall as politicians on both sides of the aisle demonized Islam and Muslims. Boosted by the midterm elections, the right-wing has become even more audacious in its Islamophobia. The unrepentant Tea Party hosanna singer Sarah Palin was called out when she retweeted conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s message that described President Barack Obama as a Taliban Muslim illegally elected President USA. The fact that more Americans now believe that President Obama is a closet Muslim than when he was elected as president is an index of hyper-Islamophobia. So the silly season is not really over since the plague is far from over without a remedy in sight. This does not augur well for American civil society nor for political life.

Throughout the electoral campaign Muslim Americans and Islam were dehumanized in rhetoric ranging from Islam being the enemy, opposition to the building of a mosque in lower Manhattan and mosques elsewhere in the country, Qur’an-burning publicity stunts, to conspiracies that Sharia law will displace the US constitution. Here is the bad news: Decent politicians frequently swallowed the Islamophobia pill in different doses. Claims by Sharron Angle that Sharia law will govern US cities infected Senate leader Harry Reid’s campaign and he too voiced opposition to the building of the Manhattan mosque to cite only one example.

But something more pernicious has been unleashed in this electoral campaign that exceeds previous levels. Anything said about Islam and Muslims, the more bizarre and disgusting the better, has become believable.  When it comes to Islam, our civil discourses fish in the sewers.  The main culprits are not only Fox and Rush Limbaugh but also left leaning comedians like Bill Maher who are equally culpable. Maher added to the dehumanization of Muslims when he copied Juan Williams’ paranoia by claiming that he was spooked by babies named Muhammad in Britain. And, when the prosecutors in the trial of the Canadian-born Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr can offer testimony of a Danish psychologist that Muslim inbreeding “may have done catastrophic damage to their gene pool” and this passes without a murmur then surely we are swimming in the sewers of dehumanization.

About ebrahimmoosa

Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Notre Dame, United State of America
This entry was posted in Foreign Policy, Islam in America, US Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Religion and the Midterm elections

  1. We could sure use a reminder from FDR: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I love this quote because it does not ask for an elimination of the feeling of fear (which is a very valid human emotion). Rather, these words ask us to be reflexive about the object of our fear. The least we could do is an attempt at making fear the only object of our fear. To do so would be to cultivate a life of courage and responsibility.

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  2. Zoe says:

    (saw this on the web)

    OBAMA FULFILLING THE BIBLE

    Here are some Bible verses that Pres. Obama avoids:
    Proverbs 19:10 (NIV): “It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury – how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!”
    Also Proverbs 30:22 (NIV) which says that the earth cannot bear up under “a servant who becomes king.”
    And Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (KJV) advises: “let thy words be few…a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
    Although Obama is not descended from slaves, he may feel that he’s destined to become a black-slavery avenger.
    Or maybe an enslaver of all free citizens!
    For more on the Obamas, Google “Michelle Obama’s Allah-day” and “Obama Supports Public Depravity.” For light on Islam, Google “F. N. Lee’s ISLAM IN THE BIBLE (PDF).”

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  3. Pingback: 2010 in review | DIHLIZ: The Spaces In-Between

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