America Has Come a Long Way
By Tahir Ali

America has come a long way. The leading candidates in the US Presidential race comprise of a woman, an Afro-American and a Mormon.

In the overwhelming white state of Iowa, the caucuses went in favor of Senator Barack Obama. It came with no surprise when the pundits and pollsters predicted an Obama win in New Hampshire. Those who find Obama to be charismatic and a beacon of "real" change, would agree as well.

With that all over the press and Hillary still smarting from her loss in Iowa left the senator in a tough spot that probably gave way to her tearful reaction in the cafe. Then came the ou pour of the sympathy vote - mostly coming from women - turning the scales in Hillary's favor. Therefore, proving the pundits and the pollsters wrong, and the New York senator earned the label of "comeback kid"

Were the tears a sign of succumbing under pressure? The American Muslims witnessed such behavior when she was running for the New York Senate in 2000, when her opponent Rick Lazio criticized her for attending a fundraiser in Boston, organized by Muslim Americans and she consequently returned the funds to the American Muslim donors.

In my book “Muslim Vote Counts” published by Wyndham Hall in 2004, this episode is vividly captured: "This episode is better understood in terms of the unintended rather than the intended consequences. If the intention was to stigmatize some Muslim organizations and to seek their exclusion from the political process, the unintended consequences led to 1) further isolation and ultimate defeat of Rick Lazio, 2) brought national attention to Muslim voters and organizations which showed them to be quite

modern, moderate and mainstream, and 3) refocused the question of equal access to politics.

“Hillary’s presence at the event was a clear indication that astute politicians were beginning to recognize the emergence of the American Muslim as a new political constituent. She was the first lady of the United States of America, and even one day could be the president.

Eventually the 800,000 Muslim New Yorkers succeeded in help defeat the all-weather bigot Rick Lazio by helping to elect the fair-weather liberal Hillary Clinton."

The New York Senate race helped coin an expression: "Pull a Lazio," as a deterrent to smearing Muslims in the political arena.

The caucuses results are more interesting because Giuliani, who is not paying any attention to that expression, is failing miserably in these caucuses and no doubt will soon fade away as a viable contender. Confirming once again, that America is not buying the Bush administration cry of war on Muslims, either.

(The writer is the author of - author "The Muslim Vote Counts")

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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