By Kanika Rangray
With the campaigning for the US presidential elections 2016 going on in full swing, there is no scarcity of controversial remarks or statements being handed out by prospective candidates.
The most recent and highly controversial remark made by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson in an interview with NBC: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this country. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Carson’s statement came through during his dialogue with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd which was focused on Donald Trump’s, Carson’s presidential candidate rival, reaction to a supporter who made anti-Muslim remarks in one of his presidential rallies.
During one of Trump’s campaign rally in Rochster, New Hampshire, one of the audience members made anti-Muslim remarks saying: “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one… we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question. When can we get rid of them?”
Trump did not denounce any of the statements causing uproar, which affected the prospects of other Republican candidates running for president. Trump defended himself by tweeting that he would have reacted the same if the supporter had opposed black people, and that he was not morally obligated to defend Obama.
If someone made a nasty or controversial statement about me to the president, do you really think he would come to my rescue? No chance!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
Am I morally obligated to defend the president every time somebody says something bad or controversial about him? I don’t think so! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2015
Coming back to the statement made by Carson regarding Muslims, Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican – South Carolina) said in a show on Fox News Channel that Dr. Ben Carson should apologise for what he said.
Graham said: “During the second election of Karzai, I had an opportunity to go to a polling station during the election with military members in charge of security. One was a young man who grew up in Kabul, went to this particular high school. He came to America. He was a member of the United States Army. He was so proud to wear the uniform. I had a cup of coffee with him, and, yes, one day, I hope that young man could grow up to be president of the United States.”
“America is an idea not owned by a particular religion, race or anything else… I think Dr. Carson needs to apologize to this young man and every other Muslim serving their country and to the American Muslim Community. And if he understood the world and how dangerous it is he would not say things like this. We have to partner with people in the faith to destroy radical Islam. And most Muslims throughout the world reject what radical Islam is trying to do to the world and their faith. This is an example to me that Mr. Carson may be a good doctor, but he is not ready to lead a great nation,” he added.
He continued, “What would he say to the young man I met in Kabul who left Afghanistan, became an American citizen, joined the United States army? What would he say to the approximately 3,500 American Muslims who have been to Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for our freedom, risking their lives. What he should say is thank you for serving our great nation. We’re all in this together.”
But, this is not the first time that a debate has risen about the race and religion of a candidate running for presidency in the USA. The most obvious example is that of current president Barack Obama.
Obama is the first African American president of the US, or in simpler terms the first Black president of the US. During his presidential campaign and also after he was elected as president Obama was repeatedly subject to claims that he was not a US citizen and was thus not eligible to be the president. This controversy springs up from time to time even now. So does the other accusation thrown at him that he is actually a Muslim.
After Obama became president, there were questions if this would eradicate the racial gap between the blacks and the whites in America. The survey poll regarding this showed that a majority of the population did not believe that the issue would be resolved so easily, and continued racial discrimination incidents which followed through backed up these predictions.
The big and large question is that the United States of America—the biggest global power—is still trying to pull itself out of any kind of discrimination on the basis of ‘skin colour’ and religion, which has penetrated in the political platform of the country.
It becomes more ironic when you think that US stands first in line when it comes to advising a nation, such as our very own India, on how racism and religious discrimination stands the biggest hurdle between its goal of becoming a developed nation.