Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why do Republican candidates always say Allahu Akbar?

Last week, after the show ended at the Iowa political theatre, I watched, thanks to my favorite television channel, Marco Rubio's "victory" speech after he came third.  Towards the end of that speech, Rubio said:
I thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ, I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to come this far with each of you
I find "God bless America" and "In god we trust" difficult to handle, and Rubio went far above and beyond those.

Which is when I got to thinking, what Rubio says so publicly is no different from saying "Allahu Akbar" when all that phrase means is "god is great."  If at all, Allahu Akbar is a lot more succinct than the lengthy manner in which Rubio phrased it.

The winner of the Iowa circus, Ted Cruz, opened his speech with, "Let me first of all say, to God be the glory."  There, isn't that also nothing but his version of "Allahu Akbar"?

Why is it ok for the GOP presidential contenders to walk around saying god is great, but then they want to hassle Muslims who want to come here as refugees fleeing dictators and chaos, and the Muslims who are here, only because they say "god is great" but in Arabic?

Can't we all agree to keep god out of the public square and refer to whatever gods in private spaces?  I am with Susan Jacoby when she writes about being Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America':
our political campaigns are still conducted as if all potential voters were among the faithful. The presumption is that candidates have everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing their obsequious attitude toward orthodox religion and ignoring the growing population of those who make up a more secular America.
How significant is the secular population?
Americans who say religion is not important in their lives and who do not belong to a religious group, according to the Pew Research Center, have risen in numbers from an estimated 21 million in 2008 to more than 36 million now.
Which means
At 22.8 percent, according to Pew, the unchurched make up a larger group than Catholics, any single Protestant denomination and small minorities of Jews, Muslims and Hindus.
The god (or the son of god) references by politicians means that "“religious freedom is in danger of becoming code for accepting public money while imposing faith-based values on others."

Jacoby ends with this:
Just once in my life, I would like the chance to vote for a presidential candidate who ends his or her appeals with Thomas Paine’s observation that “the most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason.”
We can dream, right?


Mike Hoth said...

Um, what? 36 million is not 22.8% of the American populace. It's 12% if we're being generous, the 22.8% are "unaffiliated". Big difference.

Phrases like "Allahu Akbar" may be harmless in and of themselves, but we humans latch onto secondary meanings and that has tainted the phrase. It's the reason "Mormon" is being replaced with "latter-day saint" and nobody uses the term "eugenics program" even though we're actively researching ways to implement one here in the US. It's why Cuba and North Korea are Communist countries, but France and Bernie Sanders are socialist (and that's totally different, I swear). Members of the GOP also understand that the religious demographic will not support an atheist, and so they continue to claim "Allahu Akbar".

Ramesh said...

On this one, I completely agree with you. Religion and faith are private matters and they should be kept there. When it comes into the public domain, history has shown repeatedly that it only leads to blood, war and misery. More atrocities have been committed in the name of religion when it enters the public domain than for any other reason. Think of the Crusades in medieval times - how much of havoc it caused in Europe and the Middle East. Think of political Islam today. I could go on and on.

As you know I am a man of faith, but I strongly believe it is a personal matter and should kept strictly there. When I act in an official capacity, whatever it may be - business, educational, whatever, it simply has no place.

I read the Jacoby article when it came out. Whether there are 12% or 22% or 0% non believers in the population is not relevant I would submit. Even if 100% of the population are "latter day Saints", it still has no place in the public arena.

Anne in Salem said...

I agree with keeping religion private. Religion won't save this country so leave it out of the conversation.

Given these religious professions are coming from politicians, you know they are calculated. I'd be curious to know what percentage of religious Americans vote and for which party they vote. Do they vote more than non-affiliated Americans? If non-affiliated Americans don't vote, the politicians likely won't worry about offending them. I'm also curious how such statements change as the candidates move through the states. Will the politicians make the same statements in New York and California, states perceived as less religious than others?

An admission of ignorance. It seems like I have heard and/or read that some (many? all? most? only one or two?) terrorists yell "Allahu Akbar" before blowing up themselves and the intended target. I believe the Fort Hood shooter said it, for example. How true is that characterization? I think it is widely assumed to be true. Given that possible connection, it is hard not to consider the current connotation of the word. Like the swastika. The innocent, original meaning of both are gone, replaced by ugly usages. It will be impossible to reclaim the pure meaning of Allahu Akbar in the US.

Sriram Khé said...

A slight data reporting error on Jacoby's part. Pew's report says:
"The “nones,” a category that includes people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular,” now make up 23% of U.S. adults, up from 16% in 2007."
Adults is the key word.

The GOP leaders who loudly make the Allahu Akbar statements do not merely say that for votes, they really mean that to get the votes of the "real" believers. The fact that, for instance, McCain simply said those to get votes is also why the "real" believers did not care much for him. My point is when Hillary Clinton speaks about her faith it is like how she talks about anything in order to get votes. But, when Cruz or Rubio or Santorum or Huckabee say Allahu Akbar, well, they mean it all the way.
Thus, a Clinton or a McCain might change their tunes according to the part of the country they are visiting, but not the fundamentalist Cruz or Rubio.

Yes, in many instances the fanatical suicide bombers have uttered Allahu Akbar before killing themselves. But, this is no different from a soldier in the military praising whatever god before rushing out to kill. The KKK committed atrocities even while bible-thumping. Such is the life of maniacal terrorists.
The demagogues are making sure that we will be brainwashed into associating Allahu Akbar with terrorists. It is a diabolical move on the part of the demagogues, borrowing the smear propaganda tactics that Goebbels used.

Glad to know that every once in a while Ramesh backs me 100 percent ;)

Most read this past month