Engaging the Muslim vote - Zach Porter

Who, in the upcoming election, will American-Muslims vote for? Will they vote for a presidential candidate at all? On the one hand John Kerry's waffling and is not conducive to the decisiveness Islam prescribes but on the other hand most Muslims are not too happy with George W. Bush's war in Iraq and broader war on terror rhetoric.

Right now it seems American-Muslim voters are stuck. Obviously they have come here to participate in a democratic society, leaving monarchies and dictators behind, but who do they want to represent them? As of right now it does not seem like Bush or John Kerry is doing much to engage Muslim voters. This is probably because the campaigns mostly revolve around the "War of Terror." It would be difficult to address Muslims publicly in campaign speeches, and in a positive way, without alienating the majority of the audience, many of whom subscribe to the equation of "Islam = Terrorism." If Kerry were to befriend them publicly he would surely face increased attacks from the right for being soft on terror and if Bush did the same he would lose his most important platform. This is because many are uninformed about the religion of Islam, ignorantly thinking it is a group of billions who are hell-bent on killing themselves in sacrifices to receive untold amounts of virgins at the gates of heaven. My advice to those of you who feast at the table of misinformation is to turn off the TV and pick up any decent book on the subject of world religions and what their true beliefs are in each case.

While I must admit liberals would seem better prepared than conservatives to acknowledge Islam and accept the average Muslim as a friend or neighbor I think the Islamic ideology has similar characteristics to Republican ideals. For instance Muslims believe that a person gets its soul during the fetal stage in the womb and other factors about the child's life may be determined there. Just a guess, but they would probably align themselves with conservative pro-lifers on the abortion issue. Also throughout Islamic teachings one will find a devotion to God that results in a "personal responsibility" to oneself in terms of morals, not taking drugs or alcohol, not engaging in pre or extra-marital sex, not killing others, or just being clean and presentable. All the examples I have just given are also major causes for social programs that every American ends up paying for whether they have caused them or not. American-Muslims will avoid all these bad things like the plague, and in the process not take a piece of your hard-earned pie. In fact, they may be some of our most morally upright citizens. Muslims also naturally network in the community to help one another out in terms of charity just as Christian ministries do with food panties and so forth. They can do this largely without help from government programs.

After the election, whoever is president should reach out to moderate American-Muslims who embrace democracy and they in turn, should reach out to a president in some fashion for the sake of dialogue and better public knowledge concerning Islam. Americans need to make a distinction between the governments of Islamic societies and the people of that society who do not embrace there own government.

The challenge for the next president is to bring Christians and Muslims together politically here as well as seriously promoting democracy across the Middle East. Seriously.

Zach Porter is a photographer with the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 248 or zporter@news-daily.com .