First Published: 2011-06-20

 

How the Republican Party Left Me

 

Was I correct in leaving the Republican Party as an American Muslim? The Republican Party has decided that demonizing Islam and Muslims is good politics. Never mind that American Muslims are some of the most successful Americans around, notes Hesham Hassaballa.

 

Middle East Online

Ever since I was old enough, I voted in almost every election. In many of those elections I voted Republican. In fact, I became involved in local Republican politics, being a Committeeman and assistant Committeeman for my local township Republican party. I felt truly at home in the Republican party, with its emphasis on conservative social values and limited government intrusion intopersonal life. Even though I didn't vote for George W. Bush in 2004, I still remained loyal to the Republican party. It simply felt right.

That all changed in the 2008 Presidential election. The repeated smears among Republican and right wing circles, that Obama is somehow a stealth Muslim, was particularly distasteful to me. The repeated stoking of fear and hatred against American Muslims for cynical political gain, and the failure of Republican leadership to repudiate it solidified my resolve to leave the party. So in2010, I voted in my first primary election as a Democrat.

Now that the 2012 election season has begun to rev up, and the field of Republican candidates for President begins to come into clearer view, the question has entered my mind: Did I make the right decision? Was I correct in leaving the Republican Party as an American Muslim? Or was my decision too hasty, based on emotion rather than facts about where the Republicans stand?

And my answer is: Absolutely not, leaving the Republican Party was exactly the right thing to do.

Let's take the myriad of bills in more than a dozen states -- all proposed by Republicans-- that seek to criminalize or ban "Sharia law." It was a solution looking for a problem. There is no risk at all of Sharia law ever being used in American courts. Still, several Republican legislators felt it necessary to introduce bills to prevent such an eventuality. Some of these bills actually seemed to criminalize being a Muslim. Yet, there was no call from the National Republican leadership to decry such blatant anti-Muslim fear mongering.

Then there are the Republican candidates for President. Newt Gingrich has repeatedly mentioned the "dangers" of Sharia law for the United States. His evidence, however, is sorely lacking. Herman Cain has said that he would be "uncomfortable" with a Muslim in his cabinet or as a federal judge. He even called for "loyalty tests" for Muslims -- and only Muslims --who wanted to serve in his hypothetical Administration. Again, I’ve heard no repudiation from any of the national Republican leadership, although, to his credit, Mitt Romney refused to attack Muslims for political gain. Yet, his voice, it seems, is a very lone one indeed.

Peter King, Congressman from NY who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, seems to be "obsessed" with Muslims. He has held two hearings now about the "radicalization of American Muslims" and its threat to the security of the homeland. Now, there have been a few Muslims in America who have been radicalized and have attempted to commit acts of terrorism, but they are a minuscule number and they are not representative of the millions of good citizens in the American Muslim community, which studies have shown is patriotic, mainstream, and deeply loyal to the United States. But King's hearings seem to blame -- and he has said as much -- that the American Muslim community is somehow complicit in the acts of the tiny number of criminals who act in its name.

Once again, the response from the Republican leadership: a deafening silence.

All in all, it seems that the Republican Party has decided that demonizing Islam and Muslims is good politics. Never mind that American Muslims are some of the most successful Americans around. Never mind that American Muslims are just the sort of people who would be a good ally of the Republican Party. Never mind that American Muslims are an important part of the fabric of our country, and marginalizing them -- as with any other minority -- can only hurt the country going forward. No. It seems that the Republican Party does not want any Muslims in its ranks, and it is quite content with that.

Well, I am so very glad I left, and I haven't missed the Republican Party for a moment since.

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago-based doctor and writer. His latest book is Noble Brother: The Story of the Last Prophet in Poetry (Faithful Word Press).

Copyright© 2011 Hesham A. Hassaballa -- distributed by Agence Global

 

Kerry seeks to allay Gulf states’ fears on Iran

Egypt Interior Minister replaced in cabinet reshuffle

Assad likens himself to Superman

Libya urges UN to lift arms embargo

Dubai launches first 3D pavement art festival

Jewish tradition could help struggling Gaza farmers

Saudi Arabia urges coalition to fight jihadists 'on ground'

Algeria criminalises violence against women

Sisi replaces interior minister in cabinet reshuffle

Executions set 'unprecedented' pace in Saudi Arabia

Libya declares more than 10 oil fields ‘non-operational’ after IS attacks

Syria exiled opposition chief seeks to unite dissidents

US warns against sectarianism in Tikrit offensive

Thousands of Filipinos remain in Libya despite perilous situation

South Sudan peace talks hit deadlock ahead of deadline

Turkey will not take part in Iraq offensive to retake Mosul

Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen freed

Mali rebel groups urged to sign peace deal

At least 34 dead in Syria rebel attack on intel HQ

Libya declares force majeure at 11 oil fields

Iran’s regional influence ‘not negiotiable’

Women protest for peace ahead of Israel election

Concerns rise over civilians’ safety in Iraq military operation

UN invites Libya leaders for crisis talks in Algeria

Israel to double water quota to Gaza ‘within days’

Abbas: Palestinians ready to talk with "whoever" wins Israel election

Fire at Cairo convention centre injures 19 people

US, Iran wrap up three days of intense nuclear negotiations

EU reviews policy in response to Ukraine, Arab Spring

IAEA delegation to hold talks in Tehran on March 9

Tunisia rescues 86 African migrants at sea

Saudi executing at 'unprecedented' pace

Turkish Airlines plane skids off Nepal runway

British former marine 'killed' in Syria

Iran slams boring Netanyahu's continuous lie-spreading in US speech

'Saudi prince' New York apartment on sale for $48.5m

Libyan militants take control of two oil fields

Washington lauds Iran's role in Iraq

Netanyahu warns Congress: Nuclear deal will free Iran to develop weapons

Bottle of juice vs. outspoken critic of Israel domestic policies

UN approves sanctions regime for South Sudan

Arab states to mull creation of joint force against ‘Islamic State’

Libya tit-for-tat airstrikes target airport, oil terminal

Iran holds memorial service for ‘Afghan volunteers’ killed in Syria

South Sudan general accused of abducting child soldiers