When it comes to politics, I like to say: “Be for who, who be for you.” That means, my support is contingent upon a candidate’s demonstrated support for matters which are important to me and my people, not the other way around.
So, don’t ask me who I’m supporting, look to see who’s backing my positions on this, that, or the other.
It should be abundantly clear that Donald J. Trump nauseates me. His divorces, his philandering, his bankruptcies, his cheap talk, his over-the-top narcissism and his wicked policies should turn the stomach of every reasonable onlooker. But because Trump literally hates me and most of what I treasure, his “deplorable” white nationalist followers—who have hated Black people since before the first slave ship arrived here—love him, despite his being tacky and low-life, beyond compare.
But as far as Muslims are concerned, Joe Biden—who is supposed to be the “un-Trump”—is no better than the disgusting, obese, orange-skinned incumbent president.
While Biden received fairly good marks after the Democratic National Convention, one group of constituents remains silently unhappy—Muslim Democrats. The former vice president is facing a minor backlash after his campaign trashed the appearance of Women’s March co-founder, criminal justice reform, and Palestinian-rights activist Linda Sarsour at the convention’s Caucus of Muslim Democrats and Allies.
Her chastisement was not because of anything Sarsour said—in her three-minute remarks, her most controversial comment was: “the Democrats are not perfect, but they are absolutely our party now.”
No, the campaign condemned her appearance, apparently because the Muslim Caucus did not get prior approval from the Israel lobby for her invitation, or more precisely, over her support for the BDS movement—boycott, divestment, and sanctions—which seeks to boycott, divest and sanction Israel over its treatment of Palestinians and its illegal occupation of the West Bank.
Campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates told CNN: “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform. She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.” Silly Biden.
For their part, Muslim Democrats have been mostly silent about the condemnation of their invited speaker. But others, outside the party protested. Nihad Awad, co-founder of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim Civil Rights organization told this writer. “I call on Joe Biden and his campaign to apologize to American Muslims.
“She was attacked solely because of her outspoken advocacy on behalf of Palestinian rights,” he continued. “Their action is Islamophobic anti-Palestinian, and should be rejected by all Americans.”
In another insult, the day after Sarsour’s appearance, the DNC aired a video titled “America Rising: Women’s Suffrage to the Women’s March” featuring footage of the Women’s March that Sarsour co-founded. She tweeted in response, “When the DNC uses footage of my labor at the Women’s March to make themselves seem relevant while throwing my communities under the bus. You can’t make this up.”
Meanwhile, Ady Barkan, the American Israeli lawyer who was a featured speaker in prime time at the convention, called the campaign’s attack a “vile and dishonest statement.” Barkan tweeted, “Linda is a fierce advocate for justice and freedom, and a leading antiracist and organizer against antisemitism. The Biden campaign must retract and apologize.”
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK Women for Peace, also denounced the campaign’s decision to ostracize Sarsour. “That is atrocious the way that they came out, attacking Linda, Sarsour,” Benjamin told this writer.
“I’m very glad to see how many groups and individuals have pushed back against that. And they’re demanding that they take those attacks back; that they recognize her as a great leader in the progressive movement; and that they recognize that criticizing Israel is definitely not antisemitic.”
And while Muslim Democrats have been complaining, mostly in private because the candidate urinated on their shoes and threw them under the bus, they are mostly declaring their shoes are wet because it’s raining Trumpism in America.
But there is a danger. Muslim loyalty to the Biden ticket in several key battleground states, may be shaken by the denunciation, according to Awad. “Absolutely. The Biden campaign has a long way to go to gain support from American Muslim voters.
“Not only on this issue, but on many other issues,” he continued. “And Joe Biden has been part of it. And we have not seen in promises or commitments from the Joe Biden campaign to the commitment to inclusion leadership, and also progressive politics that look upon people equally at home and abroad.”
“That is lacking and that is a challenge, to receive the support that he would like to get from the Muslim community. And I think it’s a clear message that American Muslim voters should not be taken for granted by any candidate.” In other words: “Be for who, who be for you.”
Muslims could be the swing voters in critical states including Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. We’ll see.