Muslim Americans for Barack Hussein Obama

You know, there’s just something humorous about a group calling itself Muslim Americans for Obama ’08 to have the following blurb on their home page:

Senator Obama Quote: ” There is not a black America, and white America, and Latino America, and Asian America, there’s the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” – 2004 Democratic Convention Speech

If the group believe what their candidate said in 2004, how can they call themselves, how can they self-segregate themselves as “Muslim Americans?”

The website isn’t really thoroughly developed, at least not as of this writing, but it does list the issues of importance to te group:

ISSUES & SOLUTIONS

QUESTION: What are issues and recommendations for solutions that are unique to Muslim Americans?

  1. A Law against harrassment of a Muslim women wearing Hijab at the Airport, DMV and other public arenas.
  2. Institute a Law to allow Muslim Employees to take a hours off from work for Friday Jummah Prayer.
  3. Make the 2 Eid’s, recognized National Holidays on Calendars with days off from work.
  4. Optional Halal meals in federal buildiings, public schools and colleges.
  5. Provide prayer areas suitable for Salah and Jummah, in public and private facilities. (i.e. Malls, Airports, Universities and government buildings.)
  6. Organize a Muslim American group to assist in recommendations for US foreign policy affecting majority Muslim countries.

As they put forth Senator Obama’s statement that there are no separate Americas, they are asking for, yup, you guessed it, a separate America. Their first numbered point asks for a special exemption for Muslim women wearing the hijab from laws requiring an unmasked condition; this is a specific response to state laws which required Muslim women to show their faces for drivers’ license photographs, since drivers’ licenses are a common, state-issued form of identification. The most notable case is that of Sultaana Freeman, who was first issued a drivers license in Illinois, and then Florida, while wearing a face veil, and then being told she must sit for an unveiled photograph or have her Florida license cancelled.

Sorry, but no, just no.

Their second point would impose a cost on both government and business, to allow employees who claim to be Islamic to leave work early on Friday. Their third point would add two Muslim holidays(Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha) to the calendar, with paid time off from work, again, imposing costs on businesses and the taxpayers. Of the existing federal holidays, only one, Christmas, can legitimately be tied to a specific Christian holiday, though Thanksgiving was meant as a day in which to give thanks to God for the bounty of the harvest. There are no federal holidays for Jewish holy days, though some businesses optionally allow Jewish employees the day off.

If a private business wishes to allow Islamic employees to take off for Eid ul-Fitr or Eid ul-Adha, well, that’s their business, and they may do so if they wish; I’d never prohibit such. But for the government to mandate it? No.

Their fourth and fifth points would also require increased costs for government and businesses, to benefit a small minority.

Same answer: sorry, but no, just no.

Only their sixth point is not unacceptable by definition, though such could be in practice.

What a great group this organization is! Pretty soon we’ll have the candidate’s full name, Barack Hussein Obama, on everybody’s lips!

Thanks to Gretchen for the link to the group.

6 Comments

  1. I’m a bit more flexible than you are on this, I think; while I’m not religious, I think that reasonable efforts to accomodate people who are religious are justifiable, and I don’t see any reason to discriminate between religions on that.

    1. I don’t have an objection to a law prohibiting harassment of wearing the hijab, and I think the state laws which require Muslim women to show their faces for drivers’ license photographs are misguided and should be repealed. The question of airport security is more difficult; things can be concealed under the hijab, and that’s something that airport security is legitimately concerned about. But I see no reason that observant muslims could not be asked to remove the hijab in one of the ‘private examination rooms’, with only female security personnel observing.

    I don’t know that I’d want to mandate that by law, because mandating it by law causes problems if it’s not done due to an emergency; but I think it would be a reasonable policy for TSA to adopt.

    2. A law requiring the federal government, or my state government, to allow muslim government employees to take hours off from work for Friday prayer strikes me as being perfectly reasonable, if coupled with a requirement that the hours involved be made up at some other point during the week. Mandating that private businesses do it, though, is something else: while I think that businesses should make accomodations for religious employees when they are able to do so, I also think that only the business itself is able to weigh the cost and benefit of doing that. (Although I *am* concerned about unreasonable businessmen who would reject it out of hand simply because they don’t like Muslims; but the proper response to that is public shaming rather than legal action).

    3. This is just silly. While I do find it somewhat offensive that Christmas is a legally mandated holiday (because I’m not a Christian), I also recognize that it’s in effect a codification of cultural practice: the overwhelming majority of Americans are Christians to some degree or another, and Christmas is deeply embedded in our culture. Eid isn’t. (That said, I would expect reasonable employers to allow Muslim employees to take this time off, and I would have no problem with a general rule for federal/state employees that allows them to take off some number of religious holidays per year).

    4. This is something which I expect will happen with time, without legal rules requiring it. In any area where the Muslim population is a sufficiently large percentage of the population, they’ll put pressure on the local school board to do it; if there’s demand for it, colleges will eventually do it, too. The only place where federal-level legal action might be helpful is in federal buildings … and I don’t know how I feel about it. Do federal buildings offer optional Kosher meals?

    5. Airports and universities should probably do this; but, again, if there’s sufficient demand for it, they will. The real problem here is that Muslims are currently too small a minority to exercise the kind of consumer pressure needed to make things like this happen.

    6. This one actually really disturbs me. On the one hand, Muslims might be able to give good advice regarding policy towards Muslim countries. On the other hand, there’s a risk that they’ll capture the policy, and it’s not reasonable to (a) divest that kind of power to them, or (b) assume that what they are arguing for is always in the American national interest. (The political power of the Cuban exile community in Miami is an example of the kind of thing I’m talking about here.)

  2. Aphrael: With regards to point #1, I think you’ve ignored the function that drivers’ licenses perform in our society. Not only are they certificates of completion of a knowledge and skills test, which grants the privilege to drive to the rightful bearer, but they are also used for positive, visual identification. A police officer who pulls over a motorist for a suspected violation has to be able to determine, with reasonable certainty, that the bearer is the person pictured.

    The drivers’ license has other official identity functions as well. For example, when a person is hired, the hiring company is required to fill out an ICE Form I-9, certifying the new hire’s eligibility to work in the United States. The most common identity documents used to satisfy the I-9 requirements are a combination of a birth certificate and a state-issued photographic ID, almost always being a drivers’ license. Other documents will suffice, such as a US passport or military identification card, but none of the acceptable I-9 documents or document combinations can be met without a photographic ID.

  3. Dana: that makes it worse, in my view: if a member of a religion which is widely practiced (at the world level) is forced, by government regulation, to choose between functioning in our society and adhering to the tenets of their religion, then something has gone badly wrong and must be fixed.

  4. There’s nothing in Islam that requires covering the face; in any event, it is a very small sacrifice to ask someone to uncover themselves for a few seconds to get their picture taken. There comes a point where, if you’re unwilling to abide by even minimal standards in your host country, well then, maybe you should just stay where you came from!

  5. Aphrael: What would you prefer, a society which does not depend on personal identification? I suppose that would have worked well enough in the Old West, with a (mostly) cash and barter economy, and you where you didn’t need a license to drive a buckboard, but I don’t see how it would work today.

  6. # Provide prayer areas suitable for Salah and Jummah

    No thanks. We already had one Jimmah (Carter), and that was enough!

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