Friday, November 05, 2004

American Muslim strength weakened by incomplete coalition 11-5-04

American Muslim strength weakened by incomplete coalition
Creators Syndicate Friday Nov. 5, 2004
By Ray Hanania

This is the second presidential election where Muslim voters are left to question their impact and the performance of their leaders.

Although John Kerry's loss to President Bush is now confirmed, there is no doubt that the loss of Muslim Americans is decisive.

The blame rests squarely on the failed strategy of the Muslim American leadership. Their performance has not been good.

In the 2000 elections, Muslims claimed that their swing votes in key states gave Bush the edge over Al Gore and "decided the election." In the wake of that assertion and Sept. 11th, the stature of the Muslim voting bloc has risen dubiously.

When it came to resolving conflicts in the Middle East and Muslim World, Bush turned out to be a disaster.

Reacting out of anger and betrayal, Muslims claimed rather incredulously that their 9 million voters would be the key factor in four swing states of Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

So confident were they that they formally declared endorsement for Kerry.

Yet in analyzing the election, many probabilities appear to be certainties:

The so-called Muslim endorsement of Bush in 2000 was driven by all the wrong reasons.

First, the Bush support came mainly from non-Arab Muslims with traditionally close business ties to the Republicans. They knew going in Bush would not resolve the Middle East conflict. It was not their priority.

Second, Arab Muslims voted against Al Gore rather than for Bush. This was driven by Gore's decision to slate Senator Joseph Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, for vice president.

It also explains why Ralph Nader, an Arab American, did better in 2000 than in 2004.
Though Nader's vote dropped, his support remained high among Arab and Muslim voters -- that despite the effort of some community "leaders" to alter the perception.

Polls by John Zogby, brother of Democratic beneficiary and Arab American activist Jim Zogby, claimed 76 percent of Muslim/Arab voters supported Kerry. In contrast, polls by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) more accurately predicted Nader would draw significant votes and cut Kerry's down to 54 percent in the same group.

In those areas where Muslims and Arabs are most concentrated - a speculative factor never scientifically confirmed - Nader drew strongest support.

There is no question Nader drew his support mainly from "Arabs," who are both Christian and Muslim, while Kerry held on to non-Arab Muslims.

Both Bush and Kerry bought into the fallacy of the so-called Muslim/Arab voting bloc. Kerry worked through Zogby to appoint cronies to key campaign positions while Bush reached out mainly to non-Arab Muslim groups.

The result is that is election has done great harm to the Arab and Muslim American community. In reality, the so-called Muslim vote was not an influential voting bloc at all.
Rather it is a community in total disarray with selfish, politically naïve leaders.

A key reason for this is the decision by many to organize mainly on the basis of religion, as "Muslims" rather than as a more powerful secular voting bloc that embraced Arab Christians.

The Muslim World has more than 40 million Christians: 15 million in Indonesia, 9 million in Egypt, 3 million in Pakistan, and 13 million in 6 non-Arab and 21 remaining Arab countries.
In addition to the 9 million American Muslims (7 million non-Arab and 2 million Arab) there
are about 2 million Christian Arab Americans left out of the wave of "Muslim activism."
Rather than exploiting this natural coalition, Muslim Organizations enjoyed their "special status," nurtured mainly out of post-Sept. 11th misconceptions and the failure of Americans to correctly understand the subtleties of two terms, "Arab" and "Muslim."

The fact is Arab American Christians have higher voter registration. They have a more successful track record in American politics, holding 90 percent of the so-called Arab elective offices.

The Muslim coalitions marginalized Arab American Christians. The Christian factor could have served to off-set the anti-Muslim backlash that continues to fester among many Americans.

When Muslims formally endorsed Kerry, did they really help Kerry or undermine his support among American voters who wrongly view Islam in a negative light.

Success could only be achieved through a Muslim and Arab Christian coalition.

Yet this Christian Arab muscle remains an overlooked resource. Until this resource is recognized, Muslim Americans can never truly attain their peak performance in American elections.

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