Posted on 21-10-2010
Filed Under (Politics, Religion) by Rashtrakut

This is just embarrassing.  President Obama during his visit to India will be skipping a trip to the Golden Temple in Amritsar.  The Sikh shrine is a common stop for visiting dignitaries.  Unfortunately it requires visitors to cover their heads.  Sikhs have already been targeted by ignorant bigots in the past who confuse their turbans with the headgear worn by Osama Bin Laden, and evidently in this country any such covering is Islamic.

Singed by a previous controversy during the presidential primaries when pictures of him wearing traditional garb during a trip to Africa surfaced, the Obama administration is shying clear of any repeat performance.  The underlying politics are simple.  With increasing numbers of Republicans convinced that he is a Muslim and significant numbers doubting his citizenship, the administration wants to avoid adding grist to the nutjob’s mills.

While discretion may sometimes be the better part of valor, I am disappointed with this decision.  In an atmosphere of anti-Islamic bigotry ginned up over the summer by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin (and more recently with Islamophobic statements uttered by prominent Fox “News” personalities and bigots like Marty Peretz with no repercussions), the administration could have taken a bold stand for tolerance and common sense.

But instead we have an American President afraid to go into a Sikh shrine because ignorant bigots in his country will use it as further evidence that he is a Muslim – and thereby also lending credence to the viewpoint that somehow it is wrong to be a Muslim in American public life.  Here’s hoping that it is not too late to reverse this decision.

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