What's your beef with Muhammed, America?

A couple of weeks ago, one of Justin's friends stopped by our apartment to say hello and to catch-up with my husband. For a few minutes they talked about the Army and about general military stuff (deployments, training, etc.), but then their conversation drifted into the realm of politics. Justin's friend was a bit put off to hear how my husband plans to vote for Barack Obama in November.

"Aren't you concerned about his Muslim background?" he asked.

My mouth almost dropped open. Seriously? Seriously?

First of all, Obama is not a Muslim and has never practiced Islam.

Second of all, why should it matter even if Obama was a Muslim? The prejudice exhibited by some Americans simply astounds me. It seems as if some of my countrymen believe:

Muslim = Terrorist
Muslim = Evil

Nearly one-fifth of human beings on this Earth are members of the Islamic faith. Are these people all terrorists? Are these people all evil and distrustful? Sure, a small portion of Islamic extremists hate America and would like nothing more than to see us bombed out and depleted, but these terrorists are in a tiny minority compared to the general populace of peaceful Muslims.

Personally, I don't care if my president is a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, pagan, or an atheist. I don't care if he or she worships the Great Oak Tree of Liberty. That is his business. Not mine. All I ask of a president is to keep his religion to himself and to perform to the best of his abilities.

So please, America, stop haranguing Obama over his supposed "Muslim background." It just makes us look like a bunch of close-minded bigots.

What were you doing on September 11th?

In the early morning of September 11th, 2001, I was sleeping in my roommate Brittney's bed and dreaming about something safe and wonderful. Brittney had caught mono at the beginning of the semester and had consequently moved home to recuperate, but she left most of her things behind, including all of the blankets and pillows on her comfortable bed. I'd often fall asleep on her welcoming bedding during my late-night talks with our other roommate Cassandra.

Around 6:30 in the morning (perhaps a little earlier or later), our fourth roommate Jana burst into the bedroom to announce a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Centers. I remember rolling over in the bed at Jana's proclamation, wondering if she was just joking. I figured there was no way she could be telling the truth and I promptly went back to sleep.

A few minutes later Jana entered our room again and this time I took her more seriously. I fumbled for my glasses and wrapped a blanket around my body and joined her in the living room to watch the news.

I was shocked and dumbfounded at what I saw.

The television showed an enormous plane flying straight into the World Trade Center, causing red flames and black smoke to burgeon from the ailing building. I watched in horror as, one by one, the two towers burned and crashed into the ground, leaving only a cloud of brown haze and ash in their wake.

The rest of the day passed by in a blur. I attended a devotional up on campus to commemorate the victims. I called my family to make sure they were okay even though they lived a half hour outside of Washington. I thought about my friend Dan and about his dad who worked in the World Trade Center. I stayed up late to watch the same footage playing over and over again on the 24-hour news channels, hoping to hear of any new developments and hoping to hear somebody would be brought to justice for such an awful crime.

Finally, I understood what Americans must have felt when the Japanese attacked and bombed Pearl Harbor. Finally, I understood what Americans must have felt when their charismatic young leader John F. Kennedy was murdered. Now, I belonged to a new generation of Americans brought together by tragedy and unified in mutual mourning.

What about you? Where were you on September 11th? What were you doing? How did you feel?

Mixed Emotions over Palin-mania

When I first learned of John McCain's choice for his running mate, I was surprisingly pleased with his pick. He chose a woman! That made me happy. Even if Obama loses the election in November, at least the U.S. will break one glass ceiling come the fall.

I perused a couple of articles of Palin on the internet and I was surprsingly pleased too at what I read. A mother of five. A working parent. A woman who was brave enough to stand against the corruption in her own party. Even if I disagreed with Palin's positions on nearly everything from abortion to gay marriage to drilling in ANWR, I had to admit I admired this woman. In a way, she is the epitome of what I strive to become---strong, articulate, and a woman who somehow strikes a balance between work and family.

But now a week has passed since the Palin announcement and I find myself scratching my head over McCain's choice for his VP slot and I find myself scratching my scalp even harder over the heated culture wars this decision has elicited. *Sigh* I really wish the Olympics had never ended. I had a much better time watching swimming, basketball, and even equestrian dressage rather than this 2008 political circus.

First of all, I was turned off by Palin's address during the Republican National Convention. I understand politics is a dirty business and I understand criticizing your opponent is part of the game, but Palin's remarks on Obama went from firebrand criticisms of his policies to downright petty attacks on his community service. If Palin wanted to go after Obama, then she should have focused on his lack of executive experience or his sweeping speeches or his "liberal agenda." Instead, Pallin decided to mock Obama's work as a community organizer where he helped blue-collar Chicagoans find better job training and adequate housing. Huh? It just seems silly to me to attack Obama for this portion of his life when there's so much other stuff (ie Tony Rezko) she could have used for fodder. No gold star for you, Sarah.

Secondly, I am upset by the double standard the press and our society at large has placed upon Palin's working-mom status. If I had five children---one pregnant at 17 and a baby with special needs---I would probably go loopy, but Sarah Palin has found a way to balance her career and her family. Even better, her husband has quit his job to become a stay-at-home father so kudos to them. So why, why, why does the press keep questioning Palin if she's capable for the VP slot with so many kids in tow? Why doesn't anybody talk about Obama's two young daughters and how he plans to juggle his family and work life if he becomes elected? Or Joe Biden taking on a busy Senate seat as a single father? Or John McCain's parenting techniques in which his family lived in Arizona while he worked for most of the week in Washington? I spy a double standard here.

And lastly, I'm a little scared of Sarah Palin and the crazed uber-conservative Christian right wing of the Republican Party. Actually, I'm really scared of them. Now, I consider myself a Democrat---and a pretty liberal one at that---but I also agree with a few economic platforms traditionally tied to the GOP. But Palin's brand of evangelical politics just makes me shake my head and say, "Are you serious?" No abortions under any circumstances, abstinence-only education, creationism taught in schools, and God wants us stay in Iraq? I just don't get it---and I just don't understand why this crazy population of the U.S. has so much power in our country.

Oh and one more point---Sarah Palin is no friend of mine if she wanted to censor certain books in her hometown library! As a book lover extradinaire, I believe the act of banning books is akin to shooting me in the heart. Plus, censorship never works. It just makes these books more appealing to kids.