Smear?

NPR was talking about something yesterday that got me thinking…

There has been a lot of talk during this campaign suggesting/implying that Obama is a Muslim, despite his strong attestations of his Christianity. Much of that response to those messages has been that folks are attempting to “smear” Obama by saying that he is a Muslim.

Something I hadn’t thought of until it came up on NPR is the subtext to these statements back and forth–that somehow being a Muslim is a bad thing.

The parallel they were raising was of an election in Poland a number of years ago where a Catholic was running for office–and a whisper campaign was started…”He’s really a secret Jew.” The media at the time were pretty proud of themselves–saying, “Well, that’s just Poland. We’re not like that.”

But we’re more like that than we might like to think.

We are a country that is hugely diverse–in ethnicities, religion, economics…just about any category you can think of. Singling out one of those diversities–in this case, religion–to suggest that somehow belonging to that religion can be seen as a potential “smear” is dangerous to us all.

There are significant problems that we need to deal with–and to deal with them, we are going to need to work together.

Are there problems with some folks who claim the Muslim religion? Sure…just like there are with some who claim Christianity or Hinduism or any other religion you want to name. But is suggesting that somehow it’s a bad thing to be a Muslim the way to deal with those problems? Not to my mind.

We can easily get into a tit-for-tat mode by doing that. And if we do, then a quote by Gandhi comes to mind: “”An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ leaves the world blind and toothless.”

I may not agree with those who are of a different faith tradition than I am. But to claim that those who do belong to those traditions are somehow “less than” me suggests that anything I do to them is correct because I am “better” or “more right”…rather than learning from them and finding ways to work together to deal with the significant problems that affect all of us–regardless of our faith traditions.

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