A Faithful Word

Living in the Light of God's Love

Hesham A. Hassaballa

Hesham A. Hassaballa
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
July 08
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis, being published in newspapers across the country and around the world. His articles have been distributed world wide by Agence Global as well. He has been a Beliefnet columnist since 2001, and has written for the Religion News Service. He is also a guest blogger for The Chicago Tribune. Dr. Hassaballa is author of the essay "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the award-winning book Taking Back Islam (Rodale). He is also co-author of The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Doubleday). His latest book of poetry about the Prophet Muhammad, Noble Brother, has been published by Faithful Word Press. In 2007, his blog, God, Faith, and a Pen, was nominated for a Brass Crescent Award for a blog that is "the most stimulating, insightful, and philosophical, providing the best rebuttals to extremist ideology and making an impact whenever they post."


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 21, 2011 11:11AM

How the Republican Party Left Me

Rate: 15 Flag

This was published in the Middle East Online.

Ever since I was old enough, I voted in almost every election. In many of those elections I voted Republican. In fact, I became involved in local Republican politics, being a Committeeman and assistant Committeeman for my local township Republican party. I felt truly at home in the Republican party, with its emphasis on conservative social values and limited government intrusion into personal life. Even though I didn’t vote for George W. Bush in 2004, I still remained loyal to the Republican party. It simply felt right.

That all changed in the 2008 Presidential election. The repeated smears among Republican and right wing circles, that Obama is somehow a stealth Muslim, was particularly distasteful to me. The repeated stoking of fear and hatred against American Muslims for cynical political gain, and the failure of Republican leadership to repudiate it solidified my resolve to leave the party. So in 2010, I voted in my first primary election as a Democrat.

Now that the 2012 election season has begun to rev up, and the field of Republican candidates for President begins to come into clearer view, the question has entered my mind: Did I make the right decision? Was I correct in leaving the Republican Party as an American Muslim? Or was my decision too hasty, based on emotion rather than facts about where the Republicans stand?

And my answer is: Absolutely not, leaving the Republican Party was exactly the right thing to do.

Let’s take the myriad of bills in more than a dozen states — all proposed by Republicans — that seek to criminalize or ban “Sharia law.” It was a solution looking for a problem. There is no risk at all of Sharia law ever being used in American courts, Still, several Republican legislators felt it necessary to introduce bills to prevent such an eventuality. Some of these bills actually seemed to criminalize being a Muslim. Yet, there was no call from the National Republican leadership to decry such blatant anti-Muslim fear mongering.

Then there are the Republican candidates for President. Newt Gingrich has repeatedly mentioned the “dangers” of Sharia law for the United States. His evidence, however, is sorely lacking. Herman Cain has said that he would be “uncomfortable” with a Muslim in his cabinet or as a federal judge. He even called for “loyalty tests” for Muslims — and only Muslims — who wanted to serve in his hypothetical Administration. Again, I’ve heard no repudiation from any of the national Republican leadership, although, to his credit, Mitt Romney refused to attack Muslims for political gain. Yet, his voice, it seems, is a very lone one indeed.

Peter King, Congressman from NY who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, seems to be “obsessed” with Muslims. He has held two hearings now about the “radicalization of American Muslims” and its threat to the security of the homeland. Now, there have been a few Muslims in America who have been radicalized and have attempted to commit acts of terrorism, but they are a minuscule number and they are not representative of the millions of good citizens in the American Muslim community, which studies have shown is patriotic, mainstream, and deeply loyal to the United States. But King’s hearings seem to blame — and he has said as much — that the American Muslim community is somehow complicit in the acts of the tiny number of criminals who act in its name.

Once again, the response from the Republican leadership: a deafening silence.

All in all, it seems that the Republican Party has decided that demonizing Islam and Muslims is good politics. Never mind that American Muslims are some of the most successful Americans around. Never mind that American Muslims are just the sort of people who would be a good ally of the Republican Party. Never mind that American Muslims are an important part of the fabric of our country, and marginalizing them — as with any other minority — can only hurt the country going forward. No. It seems that the Republican Party does not want any Muslims in its ranks, and it is quite content with that.

Well, I am so very glad I left, and I haven’t missed the Republican Party for a moment since.

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You make some excellent points, Hisham. The republicon demonization of muslims offends even me, a non-muslim. I can only imagine how they must feel to a muslim. Eloquenltly expressed. R
A lot of folks who gravitate to that party are the sort who take comfort in demonizing someone or other. Nice post.
Insofar as persecution of Muslims is concerned I am in total agreement with the post, but politicians in general are traditionally guilty of promoting many false issues for political advantage. Now that the Muslim issue has brought about a healthy reaction it might be worthwhile to extend the questioning attitude to other fundamental political issues for reconsideration.
The Republican Party, unfortunately, has embraced xenophobia. While it may resound in some pockets of the country, I think it will be disastrous for them on a national scale. Excellent piece on how it feels to be on the receiving end of the bigotry.
I wish you had explained further what were the "conservative social values" that appealed to you because I've found such things are often sharply at odds with "limited government intrusion."

I agree with you wholeheartedly. The Republican Party's "social values" are anything but limited government. They are nothing short of the imposition of a particular religious view upon the rest of the country. Yet, no one seems to be saying this at all. It makes absolutely no sense. But, thanks to everyone for their kind words and comments.
The entire political establishment has turned on the Muslim community. Fear is lucrative to this system. The Obama White House makes noises about reconciliation, but they've expanded "creep" spending and many internal security operations that no doubt continue to be focused on the Muslim faith as a profiling marker. The private security community accepts this as the overarching term now, and telling from the Washington Post series on the rapid rise of private security firms, the definition will get repeated in the system for a long time. At the very least one can hope that as the greedy feeding at the trough of private security muck continues, they'll see the need to redefine their filthy little business model around multiple targets. You're right about the Republican blather, though, it only makes things worse. But it's still a choice between one group of shills or another.
any one who ever supported the republican party should be perfectly at home in the current democrat party, in as much as they are pretty much the same, except that the dems are more flexible about race and religion.

no one who votes for either will be going to heaven, since both have supported the concept of theft and murder as election tools. normally this doesn't bother american people, as they leave their religion inside the church, mosque, or synagogue.
Well said. Bigotry has no place in politics, or anywhere else.
Thank you for this excellent post.
Hisham you appear to be a intelligent and sensitive person. So if what I have to say sounds a bit harsh,let me know. You state that the Republican Party left you but that for a long time you feltl comfortable because of their values. From your experience, you have learned that these values include bashing Muslims. As a black man. The black community has always know that the conservatives say one thing and mean another. So while they talk about empowering of pulling up by boots straps and all the good things they have to say we know that they are rooting especially for blacks to fail. As blacks we've known this for a very long time. It seems like it took you a very long time of getting kicked in the teeth to come to this realization that they are just not into you as a Muslim.They ( Republicans) are all about resentment,fear,greed,envy,jealeousy basically a laundry list of negatives.