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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, December 19, 2003


Muslims and Dean

posted by Brian Ulrich at Friday, December 19, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Via al-Muhajabah, I found this Shadi Hamid article in Muslim WakeUp calling on American Muslims to mobilize in the 2004 Presidential campaign, specifically for Howard Dean. It's definitely worth reading in full. Sometime in the near future, Islam will pass Judaism as the second largest religion in the United States, and Howard Dean has the best chance of bringing this demographic closer to the Democratic party.

This goes beyond the context of the battle against terrorism to the broader issues of what kind of country we are. I've had many American Muslim friends and students, and they are patriotic Americans who yet feel misunderstood and left out of American political culture. As a grassroots movement, the Dean campaign represents the best chance yet for Muslim political expression at the national level. Dean understand that to be a uniter and not a divider, you have to lead on the issues that unite all people, and Muslims need health care, education, and jobs just as much as everyone else. Dean's concept of community is very akin to the Muslim concept of umma, which lies at the core of Islam's public value system and is something from which all Americans can learn.

President Bush has taken steps to show solidarity with American Muslims, steps which I believe may have actually helped the views of Islam expressed in public discourse. (I know there are still serious problems on this issue, I just think they could be far worse.) However, my sense is that Muslims remain alienated by Bush's actual policies on issues ranging from Iraq to civil liberties. Too often, President Bush responds to Muslims as a threat. I'll tell you this, though: American Muslims are a resource, not a danger. Howard Dean understands that part of America's national defense comes from the perception abroad that the U.S. is a country people want to emulate. When I was in Jordan, a huge percentage of the people I met knew someone in the U.S. who played a major role in shaping their perceptions. Many American Muslims are first or second-generation immigrants who have significant contacts overseas. The fact is, Islamic fundamentalism isn't the only philosophy that's mobile in the Islamic world - there is a network of ideas and attitudes that stretches from Malaysian students in al-Azhar to madrasas in Indonesia, and this network loops through Michigan and Los Angeles, as well. One of the best ways to help democracy in the Middle East is to strengthen our democracy right here at home.

This is a great country, and Muslims have been part of it for centuries. Aziz would probably know more about any Muslim grassroots organization, but I hope more take his and Hamid's lead in helping take out country back from the corporations and special interests who are dominating it.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.