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

 

Serious challenges for Arab leaders in Amman

US, allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Tributes flood in for anti-apartheid hero Ahmed Kathrada

Tunisians demand Muslim marriage decree revoked

Historic Casablanca buildings crumbling in silence

UN says over 300 civilians killed since start of west Mosul offensive

Disputed Iraqi province votes to fly Kurdish flag

Germany laments Turkey's 'unacceptable' spying

Syria opposition says no peace deal without US role

Turkey sends delegation to UK over electronics ban

UN chief urges Arab leaders to confront Syria war

Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life for Paris bombing

Arab League set to oppose Trump Israel embassy shift

US vows to never allow 'Israel-bashing' at UN

Netanyahu ban on MP visits to flashpoint holy site challenged

IS launches counter-attack to defend north Syria town

Saudi intercepts four ‘smuggled’ Yemen rebel missiles

Saudi to set up investment fund to help Jordan

Iran slams Bahrain terror cell claims as ‘delusional’

UN says 30 million unsure of next meal in MENA region

Putin to meet Iran President in Moscow

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

Germany’s Turks cast early ballots for Erdogan referendum

German court convicts Pakistani of spying for Iran

Qatar to invest £5bn in UK within five years

'Kill Erdogan' banner probed in Switzerland, Turkey

Arab League chief urges resolution to Syria conflict

Israel arrests 22 ultra-Orthodox sex offenders

Syrian forces pause offensive on IS-held dam for repairs

Dubai's Emaar Malls offers $800m to buy Souq.com

Iraq launches fresh Mosul Old City advance

US-backed fighters battle IS near north Syria town

Hamas partially reopens Beit Hanoun crossing

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies

Iran to appeal seizure of 9/11 compensation money

Hamas shuts Gaza crossing after assassination of official

Deep concern as Israeli laws entrench the occupation

Turkey’s Kurds could sway tight referendum vote

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

US and allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Israel’s air strike on Syria spooks Middle East