A Perspective On Historic Change By Obama
Sat, November 8, 2008 Leave a comment
A Muslim perspective On Obama Historic Change
By Global Intifada November 6, 2008
Unfortunately, many American Muslims have gotten caught up in the hype surrounding Obama’s overwhelming victory in the Presidential election. While this is no doubt an important event that saw the most extreme fringe of conservativism bubble up and get defeated, it is a bit of an exaggeration to call this “historic change”, especially coming from a Muslim perspective.
Islam has no issues with race. There have been many rulers in Islamic history that have been Black (Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio, Mansa Musa). Those American Muslims who are not African Americans experienced very little of the torments of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and racism. Nor has Obama’s relationship with Muslims been praiseworthy, if anything, he’s given the community a cold shoulder. His response to claims about him being Muslim were muted and focused more on refuting the claim than pointing out that being Muslim was irrelevant. The only person to take a firm stance against the charge of Obama being Muslim was Colin Powell, a Republican of all people.
During the entire course of his campaign, Obama failed to visit a single Masjid or met with any Muslim leadership at all, as opposed to his visits to countless Churches, synagogues, and let’s not fail to mention his “historic” visit to AIPAC. Obama has flipped flopped on various positions just during the course of his campaign, unlike George Bush who waited until after he was a president to do so. Obama made a promise that if John McCain opted to use public financing for his campaign, he would do so. When McCain did so, Obama reneged on his promise. Obama’s views on energy have also flipped flopped. In terms of his views on warfare, while it is true that he wants to withdraw from Iraq, he has stated his willingness to increase troops in Afghanistan, to fight covert missions in Pakistan, and perhaps even to intervene in Sudan.
The fact that his foreign policy adviser during his campaign was Zbignieuw Brzenzinski, the mastermind behind the Afghan jihad against the Soviets and his first nomination was Rahm Emmanuel, the son of an Irgun terrorist who went out of his way to volunteer in the Israeli military as a civilian to defend it during the Gulf War illustrates exactly major issues in his foreign policy objectives.
Let’s also not forget his proclamation that Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel, in spite of the historic claim of Palestinians. He has even gone so far as to support Israeli plans to take out Syrian nuclear reactors.
The only thing that has changed about the nature of power in America is purely a cosmetic one. The ruling class now has a black man as its puppet to lull the masses into sleep and to not question the structure of class and power relationships in America.
The danger behind idealizing Obama is that those who participate in a personality cult around him will fail to see his flaws. In fact, his flaws are already apparent now and American Muslims are either denying them or ignoring them. If they continue on the path of giving blind devotion to someone who simply does not care about them, they are setting themselves up for a rude awakening that will result in widespread disillusionment that may foster extremism, just as the election of George Bush did in 2000.
If Obama continues business as usual, young American Muslims may find themselves asking “If a liberal progressive such as Obama has the same foreign policy objectives as George Bush, than perhaps there is no hope for real change at all?” This path of blind faith and hope will just as easily transform into one of anger and desperation, perhaps even eventually violence. Their failure lies not in their audacity to hope and dream, but for having unrealistic expectations of how the American political system operates. They have failed to understand how the Constitution is structured with anti-majoritarian constraints setting up an electoral college that sets up a bipartisan system which enables corporations and special interests to funnel wealth in favor of candidates.
If one looks at Obama’s nomination for the Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, the power of money, not ideas, becomes apparent. Rahm Emmanuel was behind the victory of Clinton and the Democratic takeover in the 2006 midterm elections. He did so through raising record numbers of funding, the same thing that Obama did in this campaign. Let it not be forgotten that if Obama had opted to go through public campaign financing as he promised, then the amount of money he would have gotten for his campaign would have been significantly less and the outcome of the election may have been radically different.
American Muslims fail to realize that there is a price that comes with the campaign contributions from wealthy individuals and organizations and that is ideology. It is strange for Obama to have protested against apartheid in South Africa as a student but not protest against the apartheid committed by the Israelis against the Palestinians. What is the cause of this inconsistency? Is it a failure of vision or ignorance of the situation of the Palestinians? No, it is an intentional denial of the suffering of those people because he received a huge amount of funding from American Zionists. So to be clear, this election is not historic change for American Muslims, especially for someone.
The American hegemonic system continues to operate both within the state and between it and other states. The structure of power and class relations remains unchanged and even if Obama intended to do so, he would not be able to do so without the support of his party in Congress and without the Supreme Court which is presently dominated by conservatives. Any gross deviance from the bipartisan agenda would spell disaster for the Democrats so they are forced to support a more centrist agenda, just as Obama is forced by similar pressures to going along with the party line. Until American Muslims study the structure of power and economics in America as set up by the Constitution, they will continue to give almost fanatical reverence to people who care nothing for them and will continue to trample on their interests. However, this post was not intended to demoralize the American Muslim community. It was intended to give them a realistic portrayal so that they do not end up hurting themselves when their aspirations get dashed. It was intended to remind them that historic change comes in many forms, not just in the form of US Presidential elections.
The first and foremost historic change was not Obama’s victory into the white house, but the birth of our beloved Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam), the mercy to all of creation. Nothing is more historic and great as that. Historic change is when a group of backwards Arabs who knew nothing of culture or civilization were able to establish a military power that would dominate world affairs for the rest of history, even until today. Historic change is when the Ottoman Empire sent its forces to every part of the Muslim world to defeat Western expansion even though they got little in return. They sent aid and soldiers to North Africa, Egypt, the Gulf states, India, and even as far off as Indonesia. Such a sign of brotherhood and lover for one’s fellow Muslims only occurred during the era of the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhum). May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) grant the Ottoman sultans and mujahidin janat al firdaus. Ameen.
Of course, one doesn’t have to look that far back into history to look for historic change, look at this century alone and the collapse of colonialism. To me, the collapse of colonialism is a far more significant event than the election of a Black man as president. Racism is only one facet of the problem of hegemony, the other being the structure of power being transformed between the colonizer and the colonized. When nations across the world rebelled against their occupiers and were granted independence either by sword or pen, which is true historic change. Why don’t Muslims speak about colonialism and the struggles of the many brave people who gave their lives in resisting it? Is the resistance of Omar Mukhtar not historic change? Is not the Mutiny of 1857 in India not historic change? Is not the rebellion year after year after year against the Dutch in Southeast Asia not historic change? Is not Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal not historic change? Is not the Islamic revolution of Iran in 1979 not historic change? Is not the decision by OPEC to institute an oil embargo not historic change? Is not the defeat of the USSR, a superpower, by a handful of scraggly bearded fundamentalist’s not historic change? If these things are not historic change, than what is historic change?
Are Muslims so enslaved that they interpret a victory for the ruling class in America as a victory of their own while ignoring their rich history of resistance and struggle for sovereignty? Are we that brainwashed that the election of a person who has no connection to our religion and has openly supported the oppression of our people is categorized as a “historic event”?
In my opinion, Ho Chi Minh is a better source of inspiration that Barack Obama. Ho Chi Minh attended the Treaty of Versailles attempting to convince Woodrow Wilson to recognize Vietnamese self-determination, a philosophy that the latter had announced was a right for all nations. Wilson, in contrast to his pronounced idealism, had two weeks earlier authorized a military expedition to invade Haiti and install a puppet of his choosing. During the entirety of Wilson’s campaigning for his fourteen points, American troops occupied Nicaragua. A person who is not fooled by the promises of politicians and high idealism would instantly be able to point out the contradictions of a President supporting the right of self-determination for nations while virtually simultaneously trampling on the rights of such peoples in his own backyard.
American Muslims do not see these contradictions with Barack Obama because they are blinded by a dazzling media campaign and cheap slogans. We’ve shifted from cheap slogans like “Quran and Sunnah”, “Islam is the only solution,” and “the importance of Muslim unity” to “change you can believe in.” The only change Muslims should believe in is the change that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) bestows upon the Ummah after they themselves have changed what is in their hearts. Instead of looking to Barack Obama, who will probably turn out to be another Woodrow Wilson, perhaps American Muslims should look to Ho Chi Minh. After Ho Chi Minh had left the Treaty of Versailles conference in disappointment, what did he do? Did he try to go to the Republican presidential candidate in the next election and try to influence him? No. Did he try to go to the leader of another Western state and attempt to woo them over? No. He became a communist, went to the USSR to receive training in revolutionary organization, and then went back to his country and fought for its liberation against the Japanese, French, and finally the Americans. The defeat of the world’s greatest superpower by an old pastry chef is historic change. The resolution and willpower of the Vietnamese people to fight for their independence at all costs is historic change.
American Muslims would learn more from the revolutionary movements that resulted in the global demise of colonialism than they would from the US presidential elections. They would learn their own proud history of resistance. They would learn that if you want change, you work for it yourself. They would learn that power does not come from groveling on your knees before powerful people like Firawn, but from standing up boldly on your feet and demanding it. They would learn that the only means to solving the problems of the global Muslim brotherhood, of which the American Muslim community is inextricably connected no matter how much they choose to ignore or deny this, is by organizing ourselves by embracing a revolutionary methodology. It is by pooling our political systems, economic wealth and resources, and military powers will true historic change come.
The problem of Palestine was created by Western states such as England, France, and America who have a vested interest in the energy rich region, they will not solve that problem because it would spell suicide for their hegemonic interests. The situation of Palestine can only be solved when the Muslim world adopts the spirit of the Intifada. The suffering of Iraqis, Afghanis, Kashmiris, Uighurs, Chechens, and Somalis would not be happening if the Muslim Ummah was working for real historic change, rather than being duped by cosmetic changes.
It is not within the character of the believer to grovel for scraps of power from oppressors and elites. Those who do so will share in their eventual humiliation. The only way to victory for the Muslim world is by banding together, implementing Khalifah and the Shari’ah, and working towards promoting the interests of Islam.