[Ed. Note: This was initially posted on July 19, 2012. It started getting a lot of hits again a few days ago, which — coupled with my encountering Ramadan greetings this morning from a Facebook friend — led me to suspect that Ramadan might be just around the corner. And, indeed, it began last night. (What’s Arabic for “Belated”?) Anyway, season’s greetings are once again in order.
This holiday comes at a fraught time for Muslims, given recent developments in Syria, Turkey, and now Egypt. One hopes that the advent of the month-long daytime fast may incline people towards contemplation and peace.
Taking a broad historical perspective in domestic politics, the more important historical event of this year may be the ascension into office of Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, who is smart, charismatic, Spanish-surnamed, beloved by the Republican Party, a likely viable Presidential candidate in 2016 and/or 2020 — and a vicious reactionary being proclaimed by many admirers as the second coming of Joe McCarthy. (I guess that Ann Coulter doesn’t count.) He’s one to watch and one to avoid — which, of course, not everyone who professes to be of good faith has been doing. That too bears watching.]
[Originally published on July 19, 2012] Tonight (all right, in the case of 2013 last night) brings the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, notable in part to those not of the faith for the custom of fasting (no food or water) during daylight hours. This is difficult enough during the rest of the year, but as the lunar calendar retrogresses through the seasons, Ramadan eventually falls in a period where it’s hot and the number of daylight hours is high — we’re smack in the middle of such a period right now (and this will be true for the next several years).
The traditional Ramadan greeting is “Ramadan Mubarak,” translated as a wish for a blessed Ramadan, which we at OJB offer to the Muslims among us. (Feel free, dear readers, to try it out on a Muslim near you. For Laker fans of my generation, you will also want to try out “Ramadan Kareem.”) Like the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, it’s more somber than happy during the day, but the nights end in community feasting together, which is the part I tend to hear about from Muslim friends. It ends a lunar month from now in the feast of Eid al Fitr.
Sadly, this is not the most welcoming of times for U.S. Muslims. We all remember Deborah Pauly’s murderous rant from last year, and Ed Royce’s trying to gin anti-Muslim paranoia into a campaign battle cry, but just this past week we’ve seen some pretty awful stuff.
You may have heard that protesters in Egypt through tomatoes and shoes at the motorcade of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What you may not have heard is why: they were reacting to stories coming out of Congress, particularly from the lips of Rep. Michele Bachmann, starting a witch hunt against Clinton’s assistant Huma Abedin (also the wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner) for supposed ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t favor throwing things at cars, and I don’t favor refusing to identify corruption when it actually exists, but these are baseless and shameless attempts to convert anti-Muslim bigotry into political gain. Even Republican strategist Ed Rollins calls them modern-day McCarthyism.
Meanwhile, at the state level, another young Muslim woman moving into politics has gotten a similar treatment in Tennessee. Samar Ali is a successful woman, elected student body President at Vanderbilt in the wake of 9/11, in fact, after giving a speech on how deeply the 9/11 attacks repulsed her as a Muslim and how people should think about and stand against terrorism.
She was a lawyer and a prominent firm advising companies how to abide by the law — which, in their countries, is religious law, or Sharia, although obviously it wasn’t strict enough to keep out a Westernized woman attorney. When she was appointed head of the state’s international director of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development, people accused her of being a double agent and more. This is more of the usual crap that those who have lost the “most hated group of the year in America” sweepstakes must put up with and that those who aren’t entered into the sweepstakes do not. You can read the story for more sad details.
It’s a shame that Ramadan has to be ushered in by such displays of politicized bigotry. All people of good faith — of all faiths or no faith — can do is take an opportunity such as this one to speak loudly against it and to reinforce the U.S. as a lang that is, ideally, one of inclusion. So Ramadan Mubarak once again — and just try to ignore the haters if you can.