Speaking up for Obama

I am not an American citizen, but today I played my first role in helping to set the record straight on one of the leading candidates.
After listening to Barack Obama’s speech in 2004 in support of John Kerry, I was hooked on this guy. He was different. He was young, brilliant and rousing. I read his book, Dreams From My Father, and was inspired by it. I was therefore delighted to hear that he had entered the race for the Democratic nomination this time.
I joined the Barack Obama Facebook group to support him. After hearing how he had won the Iowa Caucus on 3 Jan 2008, I logged in to read his latest message. However, someone had to add a nasty comment alleging he was an undercover Muslim extremist.
Anti-Obama comment
Some quick research showed that these allegations were untrue. See the facts laid out and the false rumours categorically proven wrong. Often, the truth is out there, waiting to be found. But some people choose to perpetuate false rumours.
I gave this reply:
My response
To be fair, if I heard false rumours about other candidates, I’d also refute them. Everybody deserves the right to defend themselves against false allegations and be voted on their own merits. Right now it just seems that, being black and having studied in a Muslim country, Obama is seen as the ‘Other’ in a country that has been ruled by whites who have trouble pronouncing the names of foreign countries and leaders. Everywhere in the world there’s always been prejudice – just that it now seems to be rearing its ugly head on websites and chain mails.
In my country, Singapore, some moderate Muslims attend Christian schools. In the junior college I attended, which was Methodist, the Muslim students were excused during worship sessions and there was nothing to be awkward about. As a student I never saw anyone trying to convert each other, or make digs at each other’s religions. Everyone gets an equal chance to succeed. Our nation was proud of the top primary school student last year, who was a Muslim female. So after seeing the kind of ignorant comments Obama is getting, I appreciate the racial and religious harmony in my own country even more.
Perhaps in America, the majority of citizens are less exposed to people from minority religions including Islam. The few instances where they have witnessed an incident involving Islam, such as 9/11, have admittedly been painful for them. With human nature, there’s a tendency to assume the worst of those who are different, and to stereotype them together even if there are liberals, moderates and extremists in most groups. That’s how racism and xenophobia come about, and it is not something we should encourage. A couple decades ago, the dirty word in America was ‘Communist’ and the enemy state was the Soviet Union. Now it’s ‘Muslim’ and various Middle East countries. Why does America need bogeymen all the time? Taking on Obama’s approach, let’s have dialogue, not war.
I heard an account of how a doctor based in America came to Singapore to find a job after 9/11. That’s because his name had ‘Osama’ in it. It is most unfortunate, especially if you’re not related to the terrorist, that you cannot work in a country that preaches freedom and democracy. So maybe it isn’t so surprising that some people are playing up Obama’s middle name, which goes with Saddam. It shows that some Americans are not ready to accept someone who has merits but is different from them.
In fact, I’m thinking the tables can be turned. It would actually be good to have a US President with some experience living abroad. The US President isn’t just the head of his own country – he is viewed as the leader of the only superpower in the world (so far). Barack Obama may in fact have a better chance of reuniting America with the rest of the world, because of his international exposure. In today’s increasingly globalised world, there is no point fighting with China or India. (On this point I disagree with the Democrats who tend to be protectionistic. Tough love is painful but it will help in the long run)
I’ve laid my thoughts out and still think Barack Obama is a candidate who can draw votes from both parties, unite the nation and restore ties with the rest of the world. God knows we need a stronger world leader especially in these turbulent times. Go, Obama!


  1. kelvin

    I’ve been in the South for a few months now and last week, I was told that Fox News is a “Christian Channel” and Christians should not watch any other news networks. This was apparently preached from the pulpit.
    The topic of Obama being a Muslim was really the topic of conversation. I pointed out how Fox News got their reports wrong and deliberately not change their stand. I can see now how the water in the well has been poisoned. FYI: http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/ReligiousLeadersLetter.pdf

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