Instead of Just Recognizing Muslims, Consult With Them
From an American Muslim perspective, I can easily say that the four years President George Bush was in office allowed us to be anything but indifferent. The president bestowed marginal recognition on Islam when he congratulated Muslims on their holidays and when he received a delegation of Muslim representatives at the White House.
For the first time, both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives commenced sessions with a prayer offered by a Muslim leader. With American troops deployed in Muslim lands, an incentive emerged to form bonds of understanding with Islamic nations and with Muslims at home.
However, there was no real communication with American Muslims to deepen this understanding. Furthermore, they were not considered a crucial factor in maintaining or restoring harmony within our society.
Globally, these were years of major tragedies inflicted upon Muslim peoples. Regardless of the wisdom, or lack thereof, of Desert Storm, it was in this era of history that the infrastructure of Iraq was destroyed, its people suffered hunger and misery, and the dictator remained unscathed. The administration dealt with rulers and regimes rather than with people.
Today, American Muslims are tormented by an indefensible double standard when U.N. resolutions concerning Iraq are implemented, and those concerning Israel are not. The Bush administration's lip service to condemnation of Serbian genocide against Muslims in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and the policy of providing food but not protection for the victims of this genocide, have not been satisfactory for American Muslims.
While none of us can predict President Bush's role in the future, it is appropriate to assume that his experience will be a source of direction, information and valuable advice in the American policy-making process. As he is soon to be free of bureaucratic limitations, I would suggest that he meet with a carefully selected grassroots group of Muslim Americans, in a frank soul-searching and soul-revealing session.
He then will discover that he was out of touch with the Islamic masses, even the six million who are American citizens. Their absence from the decision-making process has impeded the goal of achieving harmony in American society and peace in their areas of concern.
If this is good advice for President Bush, it is absolutely essential counsel for President-elect Bill Clinton. As American Muslims, we certainly support his domestic goals of addressing the economy, creating jobs, convening military productive capacity to civilian purposes, providing welfare as a safety net but not as a substitute for employment, and reducing the deficit. …