Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why is Obama receiving undue attention from Bangladeshi Americans?


WHILE SENATOR Barack Obama’s campaign is running in high gear and in the process Senator Clinton’s bid for Democratic Party’s nomination to run in November 4, 2008 is about to be fizzled out, some say Obama’s campaign has been transformed into a civil society movement. A movement to squish partisan bickering and to end divisiveness in Washington politics.

We all know that Senator Obama’s message is big on vision but short in specifics. Contrary to this, Senator Hillary Clinton’s message has no vision but is big on technical details. The senator from New York has become a technocrat. Her stump speeches are loaded with numbers. How many families will be benefited by her proposed universal health coverage, how many low income families will be benefited by her administration’s tax proposal, so on and so forth? Electorates all across America have heard these kinds of speeches both from aspiring Democrats and Republicans. Senator Obama’s speech however lacks details. He is promoting hope for the future. His thesis is that unless we do things very differently in Washington, partisan politics will not allow the nation to move forward. Mired in divisive politics the government will be run in the same fashion as it was done in the last few decades. Thus, his message is getting through especially to younger voters. Is it then a mystery that wherever he goes to address the voters, a swarm of college kids flock to his political rally and shout en masse “Yes We Can.” By uttering the slogan they meant they could change the way Washington does politics. Obama is aptly called by the media the “Agent of Change.”

With the above introduction let me delved into the issue of why all of a sudden Obama is getting the attention of Bangladeshi Americans? Mind you, Democratic Party never had appealed to our deshi Americans. In 1980 quite a few of my friends and acquaintances from Bangladesh voted for Ronald Reagan. When I asked them why they sided with Republicans, the answer that I received was Democratic Party was dominated by American blacks, homosexuals, lesbians, and super liberals (read atheists). In the same vein they did not vote for Walter Mondale in 1984 nor did they vote for Michael Dukakis in 1988. In 2000 the deshi Americans overwhelmingly rejected the candidacy of Vice President Al Gore. I heard from reliable sources that goaded by Mullahs most Muslims in America who seriously offers their Jumma prayer (Sabbath Day prayer) at mosque cast their vote in favor of George W. Bush not that they had faith in Bush, a born-again Christian, but to put roadblocks to Gore-Lieberman ticket. You may recall that Senator Joseph Lieberman is a practicing Jew and that is what was causing consternation among Muslim voters. Had the Muslims in Florida voted for Al Gore-Lieberman ticket, George Bush could not have been elected in 2000. In a way, the Muslim Americans had helped Bush enormously become the president. Of course, Mr. Bush helped the Muslim world by sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. They surely received their comeuppance.

I recall one Bangladeshi writer by the name Fakhruddin Ahmed from Princeton, NJ who fit the bill of anti Al Gore-Lieberman ticket. This person writes article for Daily Star of Dhaka. In 2004 Mr. Fakhruddin wrote an article as President Bush waged his campaign for reelection in which he virulently attacked George Bush for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. After reading his article Jamal Hasan, a Bangladeshi American writer, and I wrote rebuttals to Fakhruddin’s article, which was published in Daily Star. We both pointed out that it was the action of Fakhruddin and many like him who sided with Bush in 2000 presidential election that led to the victory of the Republican ticket. Therefore, the writer could not have it both ways. Mr. Fakhruddin was taken to task by us; however, he never wrote any rejoinder against our strong rebuttal. Surprisingly, the same writer is now penning pro-Obama article. One such article was published in Daily Star just after Super Tuesday’s (February 5, 2008) primary election. Mr. Fakhruddin is gaga on Obama but for all the wrong reasons. Like him, many deshi Americans are fascinated with Obama because his father was a Kenyan Muslim. The senator took the name of his father. His first and last names are African but his middle name is Hussein. Therefore, the deshi Americans who are Muslim are gushing over Obama’s success as a candidate. This scribe will not be surprised hearing the statistics that Bangladeshi Muslim Americans have given their nods to Senator Obama despite the fact that there is not even an ounce of Muslimness in him. They will be dead wrong thinking that a Muslim man is going to live for the next four years in the White House.

Senator Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, met and befriended a Kenyan scholar by the name Barack Obama Sr. at University of Hawaii’s East-West Center. They married and Obama Jr. was born in 1961. The couple was divorced and Obama Jr. was raised by his mother and later by his maternal grandfather who were from Kansas. Senator Obama was steeped in Christian upbringing and there is no ounce of Muslimness in him. He married in early 1990s to a Chicagoan, Michelle, who is also a Christian. In his biography it is mentioned that Senator Obama had been a lifelong Christians. Sheer out of curiosity Senator Obama had visited his ancestral paternal village in Kenya. In all probability his father was a Muslim.

I jotted down a brief family history of Senator Obama for a good reason. Our delusional deshi Americans should not have any reason to think that the leading candidate from Democratic Party is a Muslim. In my opinion, a contender for the highest public office should not be judged by his or her religion but by his vision, agenda, political philosophy and a slues of other factors.

A year ago if anybody would have asked me about the prospect of a minority candidate for the office of U.S. presidency, I would have answered very negatively. Hardly six months ago had I held the opinion that America is not ready for a woman nor it is ready for an African American to be elected for the highest public office in the land? But how wrong was I? The electorates are to some extent color blind.

All the opinion polls are indicating that older generations are mostly voting for Senator Clinton but younger generations are siding with Barack Obama. The senator from America’s heartland was able to patch a coalition of African Americans, college-going voters, and highly educated and liberal Americans who are the supporters of the junior senator from Illinois. The Clintons thought they had the monopoly in Democratic Party. Despite the name recognition and help from Bill Clinton, Senator Clinton’s campaign for the White House hit a big wall. All indications are pointing toward an Obama victory. By the first week of April 2008 it will be crystal clear that Obama will have enough delegates to lock the victory.

Our deshi Americans should not be so effusive about Senator Obama. Habitually they have sided with Republican candidates in presidential elections. They can vote for Senator McCain who promised to fight Muslim extremists in Iraq and keep the GIs for another 100 years if the need be. They should not vote for Obama because his middle name is Hussein. #

A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA