Presidential hopeful, Dr. Ben Carson, recently stated that he believes a Muslim should not be president of the United States. No sooner had he finished the sentence than the Internet exploded with sharply negative responses.
It’s hard to say exactly what Carson meant by this comment, which was most likely intended to endear him further to his conservative base. But, although it may not be politically correct to say so, there is a logical and practical concept behind the idea.
Professionally speaking, there is no reason a Muslim couldn’t or shouldn’t be president, anymore than there is for a Catholic. Perhaps a more correct statement might be that America, over all, may simply not be ready for a Muslim in the White House.
That said, a recent Gallup poll reports that six out of ten Americans questioned would say “yes” to a Muslim presidential candidate, that’s about 60-percent. That’s a higher number than one might expect but keep in mind poll numbers reflect only the demographic being surveyed. And, some might respond more positively so as not to appear bigoted, even if they don’t totally approve.
Christianity and Islam are the two largest religious groups in the world, at 33-percent and 21-percent of the population, respectively. So it’s only logical to assume there would be a higher number of each who are already serving in public office and aspire to something higher.
One major concern against the idea of a Muslim president seems to be that his faith would somehow force him to undermine or find himself in conflict with certain anti-terror policies. However, it’s vital to remember that it wasn’t “Islam” that attacked the U.S. on September 11th, but extremist terrorists – something with which Christianity should be all too familiar.
It only takes an eyes wide open look over the shoulder of Christianity to see that, historically, its followers have been responsible for more and bloodier deaths than any other single religious sect on earth. It may not be a popular truth but it is, in the end, the truth. As with most emotionally driven ideals, people have selective memory when it comes to Christianity, ignoring the bad and highlighting the positive.
During the Crusades, horrible wars were fought between European Christians and Muslims, so the arguments between the two groups are certainly nothing new. Over the millennia, Christians have fought in support of some pretty awful ideals including slavery and anti-Semitism. Even the spiritual beliefs of the Native American nations are all but extinct because of Christian influence and forced conversion.
In addition, given the sheer power and reach of the Catholic Church, it would seem far more dangerous an influence on U.S. policy than any Muslim could achieve. The resources and impact of the Vatican is as great as any first world country.
On the flip side, why would anyone in the Democratic Party vote for a Muslim? The liberal base is made up of civil rights heavies and women’s issue activists. If push came to shove, wouldn’t they steer clear of endorsing or giving any kind of authority or power to an individual whose beliefs include the subjugation of women and other groups?
Should a Muslim be president? Why not? But, is America prepared for it yet, probably not, despite what Gallup says. For the most part it’s not because of bigotry or racism, at least not intentionally. It’s just that people are often very frightened of change.
Still, as the election draws nearer over the next year, remember that the best reason to vote for someone is not because of gender, religion, or the color of his or her skin. Choose because of his or her qualifications are sound and you agree with the platform.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at www.gerydeer.com.