Observers and scholars of American politics are aware of the fact that during campaigns particularly for presidential elections, candidates try to steer the enthusiasm of supporters, and even agitate them against their opponents even by attacking them personally or doubting their American citizenship as happened with president Barack Obama. To many this is part of the political process, however, there must be ethical party or elections rules that prevent the campaign from becoming a divisive and uncontrollable process.
In the 2008 Presidential campaign Senator John McCain was asked whether then candidate Senator Barack Obama “He’s an Arab?” It was raised due to the fact that his father was a Muslim and his name was Hussein. But his father was from Kenya and not an Arab. Senator McCain replied “No… He is a decent man…citizen… He is not Arab.” The questioner was trying to highlight the religion of Mr. Obama’s father. At that time many were surprised by Senator’s McCain answer, and commented by asking whether Arabs or Muslims were not decent people. It is deeply regrettable that there were attempts to attack an African American candidate, and to agitate the hysteria of Islamophobia against the candidacy of Mr. Obama. Another issue has been continuously raised whether President Obama was born in the United States? Despite the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaii, and presented his birth certificate, those who tried to question the President citizenship and faith have not stopped.
In this camping the Republican Party frontrunner Mr. Donald Trump was addressed by this comment “We have a problem in this country, it is called Muslims. Our President is one. We know he is not even an American.” The Trump’s campaign claimed that he did not hear the full question. However, Mr. Trump stated later on that: “Am I morally obliged to defend the President every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him.” Here it must be emphasized that it is not the question of defending President Obama, the main issue of concern is how a political leader in this country is not willing to correct false information about the President of the United States of America. In addition, the claim of the questioner that Muslims constitute a problem in America should have been repulsed by Mr. Trump immediately because there are about seven Million American Muslims and they are committed loyal citizens of the United States of America, and they appreciate and defend this country and its values. I hope that the subsequent correction by Mr. Trump by stating that “I love the Muslims. I think they’re great people.” will be observed while he and other candidates will answer questions about American Muslims. It is the responsibility of candidates, politicians, the media and educational institutions to speak out against bigotry, and hatred against any religious or racial or ethnic group in this country.
Therefore, I was surprised and dismayed that after this controversy that Mr. Ben Carson, another Republican candidate made an outrageous statement, stating that “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” Though he corrected his statement later on, a question may be asked, should American born Muslims tell their children neither to be engaged in politics nor to aspire to contest an election for public office due to the fact they are Muslims? It is high time for the organizers of the debates, and presidential elections campaign managers as well as the candidates themselves to step up efforts to educate rather than agitate the voters. Definitely this is part of unfortunate campaigns against American Muslims, and the only ways to uproot it from our society are education, vigilance by the media and concerned citizens, as well as adopting rules of conduct for election campaigns in the United States so that candidates and hate mongers will avoid utilizing racial and religious issues in the campaigns.