Muslims For Nader/Camejo

A blog on the Nader/Camejo 2004 Presidential campaigen - exposing the racket of the two corporate parties - with a special focus on issues of concerns for Muslims. This blog is UNOFFICIAL and is NOT endorsed by the official Nader for 2004 presidential campaigen. Blog update daily and several times a day - come back often! Contact: muslimfornader@yahoo.com

Monday, August 23, 2004

Paradox of the Swinging Muslim Ballot

Paradox of the Swinging Muslim Ballot
By Costellojr

The Christian Science Monitor commentated on the Muslim vote in 2000 and 2004, characterizing 6 million US Muslims to be perhaps the most volatile voters in history.

John Zogby told the Boston Globe: "It's a complete 180 degree turn." He's referring to Muslims backing Bush by 40%, Nader 25%, Gore 24% in 2000, and today: Kerry 54%, Nader 26% and Bush - marginalized into single digits. The approval numbers are even more stunning: Bush 2000 at 90% - Kerry 2004 at 80%.

Before one can comprehend the influence of this 6 million voter bloc on the election, one must first deal with problematic sampling errors by even the most reliable pollsters; Zogby International. The problem exists in the terminology. An Arab-American vote isn't necessarily the same as a Muslim vote. The Muslim community is made up of a diverse base, only 25% are of Arab decent. The largest US Muslim groups are South-Asians at 33% (also the largest world-wide) and African-Americans at 30%. Media and polls often characterize the Arab-American vote as a Muslim vote, though 70% of Arab Americans are Christian.

If the Arab-American and Muslim vote is combined, the total voting bloc would likely top 10 million. To make matters more complex, 30% of American Muslims are converts of other faiths. I'm still waiting for a poll to see how many Americans are aware Muslims believe in Jesus. Mr. Zogby if you're reading this!

John Kerry has it easy in 2004 with 54% of the Muslim vote. Make no promises - keep no promises. Bush didn't have this luxury, he may have bit off more than he could chew. CSM found 2000 to be a difficult year for Muslims:

"Many Muslims were very happy that Bush spoke during the second debate against profiling of Arab-Americans and about the issue of secret evidence [in hearings of the INS]," says Syed Ahsani, AMA chairman in Texas.

Muslims' efforts to enter the political mainstream can be fraught with difficulty. In the New York Senate race last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton returned campaign contributions from members of the AMA after it was charged that Agha Saeed, a professor of political science and chair of the AMA and AMPCC, was a supporter of armed force against Israel. In the highly charged atmosphere, Bush also returned some contributions.

Dr. Saeed insists past comments are being misrepresented and that he has always supported the peace process. Other Muslims have run into similar challenges, and many feel there is an intense effort to keep them from making political gain.
The CSM reports this week:
The Muslim vote long fell fairly reliably into the Democratic column, but that changed in 2000. A combination of perceived slights by the Gore campaign and active wooing by Mr. Bush led to a break in the conventional wisdom. Major Muslim community groups actually went so far as to endorse Bush in 2000, in large part due to one big issue: racial profiling. On the campaign trail and in the debates, Bush used the issue to talk about his support of the Secret Evidence Repeal Act, a proposal to reverse parts of a Clinton-era law that made it easier for prosecutors to use secret evidence in terrorism cases.
Bush promised Muslims a reduction of racial profiling and in return gave them an Ashcroft flavored pie in the face: The Patriot Act. A strange gift to 60,000 Muslims who voted for him in Florida, in addition to millions of votes in close states. John Kerry has done one better for Muslims - he ignores them completely. Muslims join the Green Party as groups that are back-peddling faster in every election. In the irony of the century, they won't even accept Muslim campaign funds, as per Senator Clinton and Bush... Money talks - Muslims walk. It seems Muslim money is considered more insidious than funds from the NRA, tobacco, defense contractors, HMOs, pharmaceuticals and Enron all rolled into one.

It's ultimately unfair to classify Muslim votes purely with foreign policy and civil rights. These issues often remain on the forefront, (perhaps until Guantanamo Bay's neon signs read: "NO VACANCY" in Bates Motel fashion) though Muslims are concerned with issues that face every American. Paraphrasing: Ralph Nader: The Muslim Vote in 2004 - June 28, 2004:

"...The subject of the Muslim vote in the election of 2004 is one that is itself subject to stereotype. Stereotyped because the urgency of the times has to focus attention on issues related to civil liberties, on issues related to war in Iraq, on issues related to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. But before I make comments on those areas, it is important to know that there are many others that are all Americans issues. These include increased costs of higher education, lack of health care, growth of poverty in American society, the devastation of the environment, the unfairness of the tax system, which is shifting from wealth to work, and avoiding taxes on that which we like the least, such as pollution, stock regulations, or the addictive industry."
On Iraq:

"Our country was plunged into war with Iraq upon a platform of fabrications deceptions and lies now thoroughly and repeatedly documented. As brutal a dictator as Saddam Hussein was, and from 1979 to 1990 when he was entrenched with help from the United States and Britain, he was our government’s brutal dictator. He slaughtered communists at our suggestion, and suspected communists. He went into the war in Iran with our logistical, economic, and military assistance, and our approval.
After the Kuwaiti war, US/UN economic sanctions themselves violated international law. Economic sanctions can never be imposed to destabilize dictatorships when the main suffering of those sanctions are innocent children, women and men, civilians all. Under those sanctions, at least half a million Iraqi children and infant’s dies from contaminated water, lack of medicine, lack of medical supplies, and lack of chlorine to purify drinking water. Chlorine was a prohibited export to Iraq under those sanctions.
We do have a responsibility to the Iraqi people, but we also have a responsibility to peace and security in the world, and to the safety of our soldiers. In that vein, I’m urging the responsible withdrawal—both military and corporate—of US forces in Iraq over the next six months. Instead, I propose the introduction of peacekeeping forces of neutral countries that have experience in this matter, and nearby Islamic countries, until security can be secured. This would probably be accompanied by humanitarian aid until the Iraqi’s can get on their feet. It would also be accompanied at the earliest time by internationally supervised elections with suitable autonomies for Sunni’s, Shiites, and Kurds.
If the mainstream Iraqi’s are to distance themselves from the insurgency, they must not be confronted with a permanent military and corporate US occupation with the construction of fourteen military bases and a puppet regime. If the Iraqi people are going to be encouraged to distance themselves from the regime, they must be given a sense that they will get their country back under democratic elections, not puppet governments, and the withdrawal of the US-military-corporate-oil-company-occupation of their land. This is not what we are going to see. Both George W. Bush and John Kerry have said we should “stay the course.” In Washington DC, that phrase means an interminable fumbling, mumbling, grumbling, and humbling at the core of foreign policy."
On Bush's promise against using secret evidence:

"Duplicity is the trademark of the Bush administration. We all remember when he stood before microphones in 2000 and made statements against the use of secret evidence in immigration proceedings. So instead of secret evidence now he has given us secret imprisonment, secret arrests, secret detainment, and secret evidence. Of all hundreds of people imprisoned in Guantanamo in Cuba, they have just made two charges against two prisoners. What are they keeping them there for? Nigh on three years. What kind of law enforcement is it that the US government takes action against a lawyer in Portland, OR, or a doctor in Guantanamo, and then is embarrassed and has to drop charges."
On Israeli/Palestinian Peace: (This statement sparked a Wimbledon like volley between the ADL--- Nader --- Washington Post --- Nader...)
"Not long ago, hundreds of Israeli combat officers and soldiers signed a proclamation which stated among others that they would refuse to fight beyond the 1967 borders because they would no longer participate in any effort to “dominate, expel, starve, or humiliate an entire people.” Those were their exact words. The full proclamation can be found on their website, at www.seruv.org.il. There is more freedom to discuss the Israeli/Palestinian issue in Israel by far than there is in the United States. It is time for the US government to realize that this is not a local conflict anymore; it is not just a regional conflict anymore. It is a conflict that is producing flashpoints throughout much of the world and endangering US Citizens in those countries, US businesses in those countries, US workers in those countries, and endangering our own national security here. It is time for the US government to stand up and think for itself.

What has been happening over the years is a predictable routine from the head of the Israeli government. The Israeli puppeteer travels to Washington. The Israeli puppeteer meets with the puppet in the White House, and then moves down Pennsylvania Avenue and meets with the puppets in Congress, and then takes back billions of taxpayer dollars. It is time for the Washington puppet show to be replaced by the Washington peace show. In that, we will enhance the freedom and security of both Palestinian and Israeli people, peoples around the world, and the American people here and abroad."
On Fanaticism:
"Let me conclude on this note: the pillorying of Islam is in the nefarious tradition of pillorying of religions. Every major religion has been misused by its own violators for violent purposes. We should remember the crusades. We should remember over 200 years between 1095 and the following 200 years. Armies from Christendom moved in to Asia Minor, slaughtering as they went. In one conflict, the Christian generals took out 2500 Muslim prisoners and beheaded them—just one conflict.

We should remember that the way to honor any religion is to practice what its practitioners preach. And there’s no better way to practice what its practitioners preach, then for the practitioners to preach what they practice. Its time for the American people to realize that Muslim Americans are only the latest religious ethnic group to feel the brunt of political hysteria and abuse. The Japanese Americans were put into camps in California during WWII, no due process. Men, women, children, families, hustled out of their homes and into these concentration camps. Internments, they called them. Years ago Jewish American’s were stereotyped during the communist witch hunt, as having more than their share of that ideology. Another profiling. Another abuse. Earlier, Italian American’s were profiled as anarchists carrying bombs underneath their big coats. Another profiling. Another abuse. Irish Americans suffered during the civil war. It’s now the turn of Muslim American’s. African Americans, of course, have always suffered."
Concluding:
"We need in other words voters to look to ourselves and hold us up, all of us, to higher standards of engagement and performance as voters. I ask you to look at our website www.votenader.org for further elaborations of these subjects and all these areas in the coming weeks, and make the deliberation in your vote as to what is in the best interest of the American people and the peoples of the world. Whether it is better to support the two party duopoly that is in the grip of concentrated power and wealth, or is it better to have more voices, more choices, more leverage, over the two parties by concentrating your vote on your conscience, by voting for someone you believe in. The only way to vote where you don’t waste your vote is by voting for someone you believe in. Someone who has a record, and is key on strengthening as a first prerequisite of a political movement--strengthening the people of this country. Thank you."
Of the 40% for Bush in 2000 and the 54% for Kerry in 2004. There is one interesting fact. The portion for Nader has remained consistent at 25% in 2000 and 26% in 2004.

Let's avoid stereotyping the Muslim-American vote as a "swinging bloc" because a consistent portion have stood their ground for the Ralph Nader ticket. I wish the same could be said for Green voters, reformers, progressives, liberals. Call them what you will. Perhaps they are the real swing ballot in this election and the next?