And Now, A Serious Blog Entry for September 11th: the Problem with the Polls

I am thinking about the 9-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Since I am Alaina Mabaso, I can commandeer this blog for whatever I want to talk about, even if it’s not funny. I’m not Jon Meacham or a similar king of political pontificators in print. This is just one tiny blog, but maybe I’ll feel better for getting this off my chest.

I’m pretty annoyed with you, fellow Americans. I can’t believe the religion-based acrimony of the past month. Muslims! Christians! Both living in America! There’s the flap over a Muslim community center a couple blocks away from Ground Zero. A New York man stabs a cab driver because the driver is Muslim. The pastor of a Florida church stokes a media hurricane by declaring he’s going to mark September 11th by torching the Koran. But I haven’t gotten to my real point yet. The thing that may have gotten under my skin the most is the tumult over some recent poll results: a growing percent of Americans think Barack Obama is a Muslim! Condescending liberal writers are taking every opportunity to excoriate the pathetic Tea Party conservatives who think that Obama is about to impose Sharia law from Wasilla to the Dove World Outreach Center. Even Jon Meacham takes his last-ever editorial at the helm of Newsweek Magazine to convince us that those Muslim rumors about Obama are patently false:  every scrap of real evidence proves that our President is a Christian.  Did you see his Oval Office address a few months ago about the BP disaster in the Gulf, in which he exhorted us to have faith and trust in a higher power to bring us through this crisis? No-one who saw it could doubt that our President is very devout – or smart enough to know that to keep faith with his voters, he must appear to be so.

And that’s the thing that just might bother me the most as we exult in our American spirit nine years after terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers. Every hyperventilating column I’ve read repudiating rumors of Obama being a Muslim has missed the real tragedy of the Obama-is-a-Muslim polls, especially as this grim anniversary makes us reflect on the essence of being an American.The shame isn’t that many impatient, economically battered Americans can’t process the fact that Obama’s been a member of a Christian church for decades. The shame is that even the most liberal writers in our mainstream media will not say that our President’s religion should not determine our opinion of his work in office. Going to a temple, church or mosque can be a beautiful part of private life. But in a country that is supposed to pride itself on tolerance, a secular government and freedom of religion, I am embarrassed to be an American when editorials on religion and politics do nothing more than blare that our President is a good Christian, not one of those Muslims.

Perhaps I just have a terminal, useless case of How-Would-I-Feel-If-I-Were-Them. I ride the bus with Muslim families every day and I think to myself how I’d feel if most journalists were falling all over themselves to prove that our elected President was not a member of my religion and therefore still worthy of the public’s support. Perhaps America really is meant to be a Judeo-Christian country where all other religions will be relegated to sites of an appropriate distance – a country where faith in God is a necessary plank in political platforms, and Presidential addresses advise us to pray in the face of a preventable environmental and economic catastrophe. But what if this is not the country we meant to build? Instead of working ourselves into frenzy over polls on what religion our President practices, why does no-one say that his religion should have nothing to do with our respect for his office? Almost a decade after terrorists demonstrated the worst kind of religious extremism, we are still failing to live up to the tolerance we espouse.

Thanks for your ear. And Alaina Mabaso’s Blog will be updated this weekend with the humor you’ve been led to expect.

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