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Why I can't 'come out of the closet' as a Muslim Republican quite yet

Many American Muslims, myself included, believe in conservative ideals and fiscal policies. Rather than alienating potential allies, Republicans should shift their message to one of civility and inclusiveness, especially when it comes to Muslim Americans.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md., March 15. Mr. Jindal called on Republicans to 'stop being the stupid party' earlier this year. Op-ed contributor Zargham Shah says the GOP should stop 'the hate rhetoric against American Muslims' as 'there are some obvious points of overlap between Muslim-American values and conservative ideals.'

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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As an American Muslim, I have been too embarrassed to “come out of the closet,” so to speak, to admit my potential allegiance to the GOP. Every time I gained the strength to push the door open, someone from the Republican campaign would make bigoted or stupid statements, many times about American Muslims or other law-abiding citizens, forcing me back in. With my wife’s support, I have now gained the courage to open the closet doors wide open – but I refuse to step out just yet.

Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) eloquently remarked earlier this year that the GOP needs to “stop being the stupid party.” Republicans, it is time to start a conversation: Stop the hate rhetoric against American Muslims and other patriotic Americans and rebuild the tarnished brand of Lincoln’s party with a sensible and inclusive strategy.

Many American Muslims, myself included, believe in conservative ideals and fiscal policies, which make the Republican Party an appealing alternative to the liberal, tax-and-spend positions of the Democrats. Rather than alienating potential allies, Republicans should shift their message to one of civility and inclusiveness, especially when it comes to Muslim Americans.

Many Republicans take solace in the imagined fact that the 2012 presidential election was “close,” and the loss is simply an aberration. But the fact is, that there have been six other modern American presidential elections that had a closer outcome than the one in 2012. Additionally, the Republican candidates have lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections. Starting in 1992, no Republican presidential candidate has received more than 300 electoral-college votes. These are some stunning statistics – a far cry from the 1984 presidential election when Ronald Reagan prevailed in 49 states.

The demographics of the electorate continue to change in the United States. Yet many Republicans still appear unwilling to admit the need to change course.

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