“I wish Barack Obama were a Muslim”

So wrote Derrick Z. Jackson in Saturday’s Boston Globe in a piece entitled Holding Muslims at Arms Length.”I’m sure it’s a hope shared by Muslims all around the world, but what’s Derrick Jackson’s rationale for preferring that Obama be Muslim over his currently professed faith of Christianity?

Better that than having supercilious staffers whisk women in Islamic head scarves out of photo-ops. Better that than telling Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, not to come help Obama in Iowa and North Carolina.

Better that than wooing red states by wobbling before the modern equivalent of the Red Scare. In his year-and-a-half-long run for president, Obama has visited churches and synagogues, but no mosque. This has the musty feel of light-skinned African-Americans passing for white, paranoid over daylight visits from dark-skinned relatives.

Obama’s campaign has been far more inclusive than John McCain’s. Yet as of late, Obama’s handlers are so bent on passing its biracial, bi-nationally-raised man as a pure-blooded American – a new commercial plays up his “values straight from the Kansas heartland” – that they are reinforcing the impurities ignorantly attributed to Muslim Americans.

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. . . . It is understandable why Barack Hussein Obama and his handlers suffer from PTSD – post-traumatic smear disorder. Political woodpeckers hammer falsehoods from the right. Fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, when asked whether Obama is a Muslim, tackily peeped, “there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.” Despite nearly hitting the third rail over his former Christian pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, only 58 percent of Americans think Obama is a Christian, according to a Newsweek poll in May.

. . . . But the sympathy may be short-lived as Obama’s “Fight the Smears” part of his website has some Muslims feeling betrayed by an over-the-top effort to denounce every Obama-is-a-Muslim claim as a “lie” and saying, “Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian.” How about something like, “Senator Obama is a Christian who, having lived in the world’s largest Muslim country [Indonesia], having traveled in Pakistan and having many Muslim friends, appreciates American pluralism like no other candidate in US history”?

. . . . Ellison this week told The New York Times about Obama, “A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way.”

A lot of Muslims are waiting because, seven years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an undercurrent of suspicion remains. In the 2007 Pew survey, a third of Muslim Americans said that within the last year, they had either been treated with suspicion, called offensive names, profiled by police, or even attacked. . . . .

Obama himself has said “Christians and people of other faiths lived very comfortably” with each other when he lived in Indonesia. It is time for him to live comfortably with Muslims in his campaign.

The gist of Derrick Jackson’s wish that Obama were Muslim comes down to this, then: If Obama were openly Muslim, he would have more Muslims surrounding his campaign and he would lobby for the Muslim vote (all 1% of it). And, more importantly, Obama could affirm that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim. And, Derrick Jackson fantasizes, Christians and Muslims could then live peaceably side by side, just as they did in Indonesia when Obama was a small lad.

I don’t know if Derrick Jackson has noticed, but Indonesia is not exactly a paradise for Christians. Just to pick one example, let’s consider the three Christian schoolgirls beheaded in 2005 in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi. An isolated incident? Sadly, not even remotely:

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but Central Sulawesi has a roughly equal number of Muslims and Christians. The province was the scene of a bloody religious war in 2001-2002 that killed around 1000 people from both communities. At the time, beheadings, burnings and other atrocities were common.

A government-mediated truce succeeded in ending the conflict in early 2002, but there have since been a series of bomb attacks and assassinations of Christians.These included a blast at a market in Poso, a predominantly Christian town, that killed 22 people in May.

Christian leaders have repeatedly accused the authorities in Jakarta of not doing enough to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

The Christian-Muslim conflict in Sulawesi was an extension of a wider sectarian war in the nearby Maluku archipelago in which up to 9000 perished between 1999 and 2002.

I could provide you with many other horrific examples of Muslim-inflicted torture, death, and misery for Christians living in Indonesia, like these. Unless you’ve had your head under a rock, you know life is not safe these days for Christians in most countries with a Muslim majority and in many countries with a Muslim minority.

So have Indonesian Muslims transmogrified into slaughterers of Christians since Obama was a small lad, or were the undercurrents of violence there all along? This much is painfully obvious: The supposedly pastoral world where Obama lived for four years, from age 6 to 10, is not a good model for the United States to follow. Trust me, things were much more peaceful in the United States of America than in Indonesia in the 1960s and 1970s Consider, for example, the 600,000 to 2 million Chinese slaughtered in Indonesia in 1965 and 1966. A real paradise on earth! Strange, but I don’t remember any similar mass genocide of Christians, Muslims, Jews or Buddhists in Kansas or Massachusetts or Texas or Alaska in 1965 and 1966. I guess the definition of living “very comfortably” with people of other faiths is a a little more lax for Indonesia than for America.

Derrick Jackson ends his piece wishing that Obama were a Muslim with this little nugget:

In a 2006 trip to Chad, Obama issued the Muslim greeting for peace. A wise Obama would say “assalamu alaikum” at home, too.

That’s an interesting bit of deliberate misdirection.

If Islam were really living out “peace” today — if “assalamu alaikum” was the reality of Islam instead of its cover story, then nobody would care about Obama’s religion.

That isn’t today’s reality. Hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children of all faiths, from Islam to Christianity to Hinduism to Buddhism — in fact, millions over the years and around the world, have been slaughtered by Muslims in the name of Allah.

So when Barack Hussein Obama announces that America is “no longer Christian” (even though about 80% of Americans still identify themselves as Christian, with only about 1% identifying themselves as Jewish and 1% as Muslim), forgive me if I question the man’s bona fides as a Christian. Forgive me if I wonder why the pastor he chooses as his spiritual mentor spouts hatred for America instead of love for all. Forgive me if I take a closer look and ask just how deep are this man’s roots in the religion he currently professes.

Christianity and Islam are not two alternate brands of the same product. They are not Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. Look at the fruits that each religion is producing today. One religion has produced the most free, prosperous, tolerant nation in the history of the earth (and I am not referring to Indonesia.) The other religion has produced countless hot spots for bloody religious conflict around the world. Count up the countries where innocent non-combatant civilians minding their own business are most likely to be bombed, kidnapped, beheaded, and killed in the name of a deity in the past 10, 20 or 30 years. The contrast is clear.

If you are to know a religion by its fruits, then one knows enough of Islam’s fruits, as Islam is actually understood and practiced in most parts of the world today, to know that there is something deeply wrong. From the running tote at TheReligionofPeace.com:

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Derrick Jackson knows not what he wishes for. We may indeed have a Muslim president in America someday — possibly sooner than we think. I, for one, am not eager to trade the relative peace and freedom of religion that Americans enjoy today for Indonesia’s — or Chad’s — version of “assalamu alaikum.”

Gina Cobb blogs at GINA COBB

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