The Muslim among us
I'm not the one who brought it up--she did. She called to say thanks for a little tape recording I made of her great-granddaughter singing at the piano, had to tell me how much she loved it--again, not having heard it for awhile. Other pleasantries. Then, the question.
"So are you still going to vote for Obama?" she asked.
Here we go again.
"Yep," I said.
"How can you?--he's a Muslim."
"He's not a Muslim, Mom," I said. "I don't know where you get that stuff, but it's just not true."
"How do you know?"
"Listen to him--to what he says. He says he's a Christian."
"But you don't know."
"A hundred press stories have said it."
"But the media hate McCain. They hate Sarah Palin."
"I wish you wouldn't think that way, Mom--it's just not true."
"Do you know him?"
And it went downhill from there.
I know Republicans will say that Obama has vastly outspent McCain on negative ads, that he's called McCain "erratic," that John Kerry has suggested McCain wears Pampers. It's not been pretty. Most of America really hoped this election cycle might stay above the slime, but it hasn't.
But the pit is owned right now by those who chatter endlessly about who's a real American and who isn't, about what the "real America" is and isn't, about which congressmen are pro-American and which are anti-American, and about who thinks like us and who doesn't. My last three projects concerned American minorities--Native Americans and Asian refugees. When Sarah Palin talks about being so happy she's speaking to real Americans, she's not talking about them. She's talking about me--white, small-town, church-goin' folks with real jobs and nice families and all of that.
In America, she's got a right to say what she'd like. But I just wish that all of those who seek so fervently to divide America into the capitalists and the socialists, into good guys and bad, into Christians and pagans, into black and white (as Rush Limbaugh did yesterday), would remember that some people actually believe it--my mother for one.
"Mom, he's not a Muslim," I told her.
"How do you know--how can anyone know?" she told me.
You can't, I guess. You simply choose who you believe.