This past weekend, the Congressional Black Caucus hosted its annual weekend extravaganza that included expensive dinners and lavish partying. Yet, Black politicians in the present day are standing by as the GOP and its right-wing zealots run amok in cahoots with local and state police departments.
They have become the modern-day example of Alderman Fred Davis – the jive-ass politician from Good Times who was all talk and no action. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann went on a tactless, destructive, racist and ignorant rant about Islam at the Family Research Council’s Voters Summit last weekend, calling on President Barack Obama to “declare war” on Islam. Black politicians remained silent as she openly declared war against people of color. While exact numbers are nebulous, it is estimated that there are approximately 2 – 7 million people in this country who consider themselves Muslim. What we do know is that approximately 450,000 of them are African-American.
Unfamiliarity with the Muslim faith is so prevalent in this country that even officials in professional sports, where most of the players are Black and many have Arabic names – seems to be mystified with its customs and practices. Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah intercepted a Tom Brady pass Monday night and returned it for a touchdown.
Afterwards, he did what so many other NFL players do to celebrate a big play: paused to make a religious gesture of thanks. But Abdullah was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, all because he slid to the ground, then knelt in prayer in the end zone.
In light of the many players who drop to one knee in prayer after a touchdown and the league’s essential backbone of religious (i.e. Christian faith) the NFL has since apologized for the penalty. Where is Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim and African-American from Minnesota to be elected to the Congress, and the rest of his colleagues? How can our congressmen and women remain silent about something so dangerous and so irresponsible, as the country and the rest of the world deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)?
“Yes, Mr. President, it is about Islam!” Bachmann proclaimed, reinforcing the very narrative ISIS wishes to propagate. “And I believe if you have an evil of an order of this magnitude, you take it seriously. You declare war on it, you don’t dance around it. Just like the Islamic State has declared war on the United States of America.”
Why is it that whenever zealots wage war, hurting the reputation of an ethnicity, faith, or cause by doing terrible things in the name of its culture, faith, or cause, we think the responsible thing to do is to stay quiet? Jews, Christians, atheists, whites, gays, Italians, Irish, liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, environmentalists, and pretty much every other classification of people I can think of, will do whatever is necessary when their cause or identity is commandeered or dishonored.
And while silence may not automatically imply consent, it does invite suspicion of consent. Sadly, it’s about more than just Islam. It’s about the ridiculous onslaught against people of color in this country. We’ve seen the deaths of Eric Garner, John Crawford III and Michael Brown at the hands of police who may never be brought to justice, all just this year.