Yes, I mean it -- I really do wish President Obama was America's first Muslim president! (For reasons I'll explain below.)
However, I don't think that was the response that uber conservative commentator Frank Gaffney was hoping for when I read his op-ed in The Washington Times on June 9, 2009 posing the question: "Is Obama America's first Muslim President?" (By the way, Gaffney not only thinks Obama is a Muslim, but he contends that Obama is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.)
When I read Gaffney's article claiming that Obama was a Muslim, what instantly came to mind was the famous line in Godfather III when Al Pacino -- as Michael Corleone -- declared: "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in."
You see, for the last few months I have been telling everyone who would listen that America had finally turned the page on the neo-con "us versus them" philosophy with respect to the Arab/Muslim world. The tone in America was changing for the better and as an Arab-American, I felt this great weight lifted off myself and our community. I really thought we were done with this crap. But like brain dead zombies, these right wing haters are back from the dead. (I truly don't mean to offend brain dead zombies by equating them with Frank Gaffney.) Just as alarming is that a new Pew poll found that 11% of Americans think President Obama is a Muslim -- and I can assure you it isn't because they like Muslims!
This reminds me of the dark days during the election when right wing extremists were calling Obama a Muslim in the hopes it would hurt his candidacy. The term "Muslim" was becoming a slur that I feared would end up becoming like the "N" word. In time, non-Muslims wouldn't be able to call us Muslims, instead you would have to call us a politically correct term like: "Pork free-Americans."
And just like with the "N" word, only Muslims would be able to call each other "Muslims" -- Young Muslims walking up to each other exclaiming: "What up my, Muslim?" "Where my Muslims at" or even "Muslim, please!"
So why do I truly wish that President Obama was really a Muslim? Because he is cool. In fact, he may be the coolest guy out there right now. Hence Muslim would equal cool. What Muslim wouldn't want that?!
Plus Obama would be showing all Americans that being Muslim means being smart and articulate, that being Muslim means caring about other people -- about wanting to provide health insurance to Americans not fortunate enough to have coverage, it means trying to save hundreds of thousands of American jobs with his stimulus plan, it means working to bring peace and security to both Palestinians and Israelis, it means a person who loves America so much that he wants to return our country to it's rightful place as a beacon of justice, equality and fairness.
But truthfully, at this point, does it really matter if President Obama is a Muslim? Shouldn't the question be is he doing a good job? Look, George W. Bush was a "super" Christian and he sucked as president. Was it because he was a Christian? Of course not. Would Bush have been a better president if he had converted to Islam? Or if he had become Jewish? Or even started praying to The Jonas Brothers? Honestly, It couldn't have been worse.
I know most Americans will agree that no person's religion should disqualify you automatically to be elected president. Maybe one day there will actually be an American president who is Muslim, or Jewish, or Buddhist, or an atheist or even a gay-atheist. (That "thud" sound you just heard were people in the Red States fainting.)
While I know that President Obama is a Christian, I hope that one day -- just to taunt the right wing haters -- he goes on TV and says: "Guess what, you're right -- I'm a Muslim: Salama Alaykum, bitches!" (Of course this won't happen, but I'd be cheering!)
I'm for one I'm proud to live in a country where we elected President Barack Hussein Obama because a majority of us believed that he was the most qualified to lead our country. The fact Obama could overcome racial issues and the fact he has a very "unique" middle name gives me hope that now Americans of every race, religion, and gender can truly dream that one day that he or she can be elected president of the United States.