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Religion is irrelevant in political race
Posted Oct. 17, 2008

Politicians lie. We all know that. When it comes to the presidential race, both parties become pathological and spit out ridiculous accusations.

It does not stop there though; campaigners for each party vomit the words as well.

Throughout this entire race, rumors have filled the ears of Americans about Barack Obama being a Muslim, thereby automatically linking him with terrorism. This is not only ignorant but racist as well.

I am disappointed how often I hear these remarks. Worse yet, I am disappointed that some Americans haven’t gotten over the perception, brought on by the attacks of Sept. 11, that all Muslims are terrorists.

We have seen and watched on the news the horrific acts of violence done upon Muslim and Arab Americans after the attacks on the World Trade Center. To think that there are still individuals who profile and associate all Muslim Americans with that occurrence is sickening.

Throughout the campaign and all the assertions made that Obama is Muslim, I have never heard any reporter, journalist, TV commentator, pundit or even teacher make the point that Colin Powell made last week.

I was struck with his cogent remark that it should not matter, especially in the United States, if Obama were Muslim.

Powell has served in several Republican administrations, including the Reagan administration as a national security adviser and as a chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff under President Bush Sr.

During Powell’s interview on “Meet the Press,” he publicly endorsed Obama, a Democrat.

I especially admired Powell’s point that America’s promise is that all people are treated equally and have equal rights, including the right to religious beliefs, which are tolerated and understood.

Anyone can believe what they want, and the government has no right to intervene.

There is a clear line between church and state.

After leaving office in 2004, Powell and his wife formed a group called America’s Promise, which is an organization dedicated to helping children from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

But there is more. Powell made clear that the media are in good measure responsible for the ignorance of the American public on this matter.

There is a clear measure of difference in reporting that makes innuendoes and assertions that cast blame where none is due.

If the information provided by the fourth estate does not offer the truth, the people are left to draw inferences that are inaccurate.

The Muslim religion deserves the same respect as all others in America. To condemn Arab Americans en masse is not acceptable.

There is need for all of us to recognize what we claim we believe and to have the courage to assert it—as Powell did when he said, “The right response to rumors that Obama is a Muslim is not only to deny them but to expose them as bigoted and un-American…but the real question is: What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that’s not American. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”

Leah Heagy, a senior art major, is photography editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at leah.heagy@laverne.edu.