By Aliya G. Hasan, MD, MBA
It’s interesting how becoming a parent makes you see the world so differently. Besides my view on breastfeeding in public (now I am very much for it), I can’t say it has changed my opinions so much as made me feel stronger about the very American sentiments of justice and equality.
My brother ran for political office in the last Presidential election cycle as a Republican. Since Colorado is a caucus state, he went to the state assembly to be voted onto the ballot. Long story short, he didn’t make it on the ballot, mainly for one reason – he is Muslim. Hard to believe, right? Well, we know that because we had hate speech written onto his signs, our volunteers were verbally threatened, and we personally heard the whispers that he was dangerous to the state because he was a Muslim.
Of course I was upset about what happened, but what made me feel worse was that my children were exposed to this kind of outrageous hate. Even though they were very young (one and three), I dread the day when they ask me, “Why do people hate me because I am Muslim?”
I was always a Republican because I believed in small government and private enterprise. This Republican Party had changed. It was no longer about economic issues, at least in Colorado on the grassroots level, the Party was focused on hatred – hatred of gays, immigrants, and Muslims. I had seen this change, but stuck with the Republicans because I still believed in their economic message. When I saw for myself how much their hatred of my brother being Muslim distorted their view of his candidacy, I decided I was done with the Republicans.
I remember the first time, as a kid, I went to vote with my mother. There was a democrat running unopposed, and I asked my mom why she didn’t just give him a vote. She said, “I only vote Republican.” Well, after that state assembly, now, I only vote Democrat. I don’t vote Democrat because I agree with the majority of their policies, I vote Democrat because they accept me wholeheartedly as a Muslim. I vote Democrat because they don’t believe in hate.
I haven’t been happy with the way President Obama has handled his foreign policies. He has stepped up drone strikes in my country of origin, Pakistan, to the point where certain parts of the country are under constant threat. He has not closed the Guantanamo Bay Prison, which is home to mostly innocent prisoners, like he promised. He has done very little for immigration reform.
Despite my misgivings about Obama, Candidate Romney would be worse. He has surrounded himself with neo-conservative advisors who propagate hate against Muslims, so that their defense contractor friends stay in business. Under a Romney presidency, we will see a war on Muslims like no other. I reject that vision of foreign policy. So, I will vote for President Obama.
Let’s make love, not war, right? Until the Republicans can understand and agree with that statement, I’m sticking with the Democrats.