If you took all the shrimp from Bubba’s shrimp farm, sausage from Oscar meyer’s factory, vegetables from Whole Foods produce section, and fat back special seasoning you woud have world class gumbo, and probably some serious indigestion. Although you may be hooked on Tums for the next 24 hours, you would probably feel like your gluttonous indulgence was worth it. Well, it seems like even in 2010 many Americans cannot digest the thought of living in a real melting pot. I’m not talking about an assimilatory melting pot, but a pot that doesn’t dilute any one ingredient’s flavor, but allows it to complement the others. Enough with the food analogies (I’m salivating as I type) let me cut to the chase, the United States of America has yet to reach the point where we can claim to be a religiously tolerant nation (or racially, ethnically, sexually, etc.). But for the purpose of this post I’ll focus on religion. Case in point, South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley or should I say Nimrata Randhwa Haley.
It is no secret that “minorities” have had a long way to go in politics, but what about religious minorities? Almost four years ago when Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison decided to take his oath of office on a Quran rather than the Bible, he drew a lot condemnation. He assuaged some of the dissidents when he chose to use the two volume Quran published in London in 1764 that Thomas Jefferson once owned. Yet, some folks were still infuriated. In an article written by columnist Dennis Prager, he said that Ellison was trying to undermine American civilization.
“He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.
First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism — my culture trumps America’s culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book”
I don’t know where Mr. Prager learned American history (probably in Arizona), but this country was founded upon the idea of religious freedom. The notion that the United States is a Christian nation because our currency says “in God we trust” or our pledge says “one nation under God” is silly. You don’t need to be a theologian to know that God can be Yahweh, Jah, Allah, or something else. I would like to think that in this great land of hope and opportunity (at least that is what my history books tell me) that we should all be able to practice our various religions without facing scrutiny for it. Unfortunately that is not the case.
Nikki Haley a Republican gubernatorial candidate was recently referred to as a “raghead”. These idiotic and insensitive remarks were not just made by anyone, but by longtime South Carolina state legislator, Senator Jake Knotts (maybe the religious indigestion has his stomach in a knot).
“We already got one raghead in the White House,” Knotts said on an Internet political talk show last night, according to The State. “We don’t need another in the Governor’s Mansion.”
With comments like this it is no wonder why Haley tries to downplay her Sikh faith. She seems hell bent on proving how American and Christian she is. On her campaign website in the truth in fact section she says that although her first name is Nimrata, Nikki is her birth middle name. A New York Times article that ran yesterday tells the story of all the hell Haley has faced in her life due to her name and faith.
Let’s not just look at Nikki Haley. President Barack Obama’s campaign team became livid after radio talk show host and John McCain supporter, Bill Cunnigham used Barack Obama’s full name at a rally. Whether he used Obama’s middle name to discredit his “Americanness” or not, Obama’s middle name is Hussein. This should not be a problem. Obama is about as “American” sounding as Schwarzenegger. Yet and still, as I type this post a squiggly red line comes up under Obama but not Schwarzenegger. Although Barack Obama is not a Muslim, it bothered me that he had to clarify it so much throughout the campaign. If he was a Muslim would that disqualify him from being able to lead the country? Of course not! He was born in the United States of America, making him a natural-born American citizen as the Constitution requires to run for the Presidency.
How we can preach tolerance in a country where elected officials are denigrated for being themselves? I want to live in a country where aspiring ethnic politicians don’t feel compelled to “Americanize” their names and convert to Christianity just to win. This is supposed to be a melting pot! When I get rich I’m going to buy every American a lifetime supply of Tums so they can get over their religious indigestion.