Assalamu’alykum. The January 13th edition of the Muslim Link included an article about the presidential campaign of Ron Paul (“Ron Paul: The Best Choice for American Muslims?” I appreciate the neutral position sister Wafa Unus presented. I would like to offer my comments on some points raised in the article.
Haris Tarin of MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) was quoted warning against relying only on Ron Paul’s rhetoric and suggesting we should instead give a comprehensive look at the candidate. However, a comprehensive assessment of Ron Paul was not presented by brother Tarin, nor the article.
It is true that Muslims fell for Barack Obama’s eloquent rhetoric during his 2008 campaign, but we should blame ourselves and our leaders for not looking into Obama’s voting record when he was in the US Senate. If we had, we would have known that Obama voted for the wars, the Patriot Act, and other unconstitutional bills. If you look at Ron Paul’s voting record for his 20+ year congressional career, you would see that he always voted against foreign intervention in any capacity and voted against all invasive domestic security policies. More specifically, Ron Paul voted “No” against imposing sanctions on Iraq, Iran, and Libya; “No” against war on Iraq and Afghanistan; “No” against foreign aid to Israel and other countries; and “No” against the Patriot Act and Homeland Security (source: www.votesmart.org) . There is no other politician, not even Obama, who has that sort of track record. I’m surprised that the Muslim Link article did not mention this.
Also in the article, one person said that Ron Paul made “incendiary statements regarding African Americans”. This is a false accusation. Keep in mind that during presidential campaigns, all candidates are accused of racism at some time or another. Even Obama was called racist during the 2008 campaign because of statements made by his pastor. The fact is, during Ron Paul’s 40+ year career in medicine and politics, no one has ever accused him of racism or making racist statements. The accusation against Paul have to do with 20 year old newsletters that were not written or edited by him. Rather, these articles were written and edited by someone else used Ron Paul’s name in the title. Furthermore, during the 2008 presidential campaign, these same accusations were raised against Paul and were thoroughly refuted. You would think that for this year’s presidential campaign, his opponents would confront him with something new.
During the January 2012 New Hampshire debate, Ron Paul was asked about the newsletters. He stated, “True racism in this country is in the judicial system… And it has to do with enforcing the drug laws. Look at the percentages. The percentages of people who use drugs are about the same with blacks and whites. And yet the blacks are arrested way disproportionately. They’re prosecuted and imprisoned way disproportionately. They get the death penalty way disproportionately.”. No candidate in this election, not even Obama, has the perspective and boldness to say such a thing at that level of political discourse.
I would lastly like to comment on another statement of Haris Tarin of MPAC. Brother Tarin said that Ron Paul only appeals to Muslims regarding foreign policy but he does not offer much regarding domestic policy. In 2006 Ron Paul was the only member of congress who voted against appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security. Ron Paul is the only 2012 candidate who voted against the Patriot Act and calls it unpatriotic, who voted against the bailouts (both the Bush bailouts and the Obama bailouts), who challenges the Federal Reserves and the corrupt banking system, who wants to limit the federal government to only what is allowed in the constitution, who wants to return power to the people by giving power back to state governments. Ron Paul is also one of the few who voted against the wars, which have wasted trillions of dollars overseas and on the military. These are all domestic issues relevant to Muslims. I’m surprised that the Muslim Link article didn’t investigate Ron Paul’s positions which he’s been preaching in congress for the past 20 years.
I understand that many Muslims are apprehensive about politicians because our community has constantly been burned on a national level for the past 11 years. As a community we need to move beyond short-sighted voting like we did in 2000, move beyond “lesser-of-two-evils” voting like we did in 2004, and move beyond bandwagon voting like we did in 2008. It’s time to say we’ve learned our lessons and we can now start identifying candidates and political platforms that are based on constitutional and moral principles, and not based on corporate bribes and immoral influences.
If we assert our opinion based on principles, we can preserve our identity while improving American society.
Anyone interested in learning about Ron Paul and libertarianism will find that they stand for ideals that have striking similarities to Islamic concepts of tolerance and commonalities with maqasid al-sharia (objectives of Islamic law). But Muslims should not be tied to the name Ron Paul or to the idea of absolute libertarianism. We are tied to believing in one God, and doing righteous deeds. If Ron Paul and libertarianism can help us do that, then we should put our vote and support behind them, even if we’re certain they will not win.