CAMPAIGN 08 & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Rising above the politics of fear

Muslim voters detect a snub from Obama

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.’ ” [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — I’ve never been a fan of the word “hope” as a campaign slogan. Hope’s easy to come by — most people are able to carry at least a morsel of it all the way to their deathbed. A resource that’s in much shorter supply, yet the one that is really the only antidote to fear — especially when for so many years fear has become the political air that we’ve been compelled to breathe — is courage.

Political courage requires a certain amount of recklessness. It means reaching beyond the dictates of political tactics. If Obama really wants to end the mindset that led us to war, he needs to challenge an element that’s right at the heart of that mindset: America’s fear of Islam. So far, all he’s done is bow down to that fear.

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1 thought on “CAMPAIGN 08 & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Rising above the politics of fear

  1. Peter

    What I have feared for some time, and have come to believe since Obama’s AIPAC speech, is that he has the desire and convictions for change, but not the courage. Half of all politicians running for office use the change platform. Obama’s campaign seemed different; for once the promises were not empty. He could actually inspire enough people to provoke real, substantial change in both the Federal Government and the national discourse. We’ve all seen his ability to counter thoughtless sensationalism and soundbite journalism with subtle, rational arguments. Why then has he now chosen to run a Clinton-esque campaign of political triangulation and pandering?

    I think Paul has argued before that while battling Hillary, Obama learned how to campaign like her. I would argue that Obama and his advisers have realized they’re not running an insurgency campaign anymore. I think the new mindset inside camp Obama is something akin to “We have a real shot at the presidency. We can’t screw it up by changing the way presidential politics are done. It’s too risky.” That’s true. The kind of change Obama has promised is extremely risky. It goes beyond reform. It’s damn close to a revolution. The idea of a revolution is usually reserved for the Ralph Naders and Ron Pauls of the presidential campaign. And for the time being, at least, that’s where it looks to remain.

    Many Obama supporters, I’m sure, will say that as long as a Democrat gets in the White House, pander and slander away. As long as there isn’t another four years neo-conism, then all immoral tactics are for the greater Good. That may be, but how can anyone expect a revolutionary presidency from a man who lacks the courage to fight a revolutionary campaign?

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