On the eve of what is probably going to be one of the most momentous political elections of this decade (if not this century), viz the US Presidential elections, I am asking a somewhat dodgy question : )
Dodgy because it is perhaps a question that acts like the bogeyman of international politics…ooh….scary stuff. This issue has plagued Barack Obama, because his middle name happens to be Hussein, and his father was a Muslim. So ? And so what if he was a Muslim, which he actually isn’t ? Does that somehow make him less qualified, less suitable, less viable, less competent to hold this office?
I think that most of America, despite being so diverse is really not able to deal with difference as much as it may claim to. Deep seated doubts, suspicions and unfounded fears continue to plague the American electorate and its psyche, around the issue of the race and religion of their Presidential candidates. Black people, Muslims, Latinos, etc are seen as suspect, because of all the stereotypes associated with these communities. What I fail to understand however is, why don’t questions about people who are of the Christian or Jewish or any other faith, who commit atrocities, get raised? After all it was White Christians who colonised much of the developing world and established slavery. It was also White Christians who dropped nuclear bombs on innocent people (albeit in a war situation), and invaded Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9 /11. Should we not then be asking whether a White Christian is a suitable candidate for the highest office in the US? But clearly because white Christian males have been in charge for so long, the possibility of any one of another race / religion taking over, scares the hell out of some white folk. Some people would rather have a rabidly anti-feminist type like Sarah Palin, in the white house, just because she’s white,…than a black man who would do everything to give his daughters and other’s daughters all the opportunities, that they deserve.
I’m hoping Americans can get past these insecurities and make the right decision, not just for themselves but others in the rest of the world. We in Africa would like to be able to respect America once again as that example of all that is hope and promise. Please don’t let us down again.