By:Rabia Ahmed Pakistan Today 28 February 2012
Americans must now contend with Gordon Warren Epperly and his lawsuit last week challenging Barack Hussain Obama’s eligibility for presidential office. In a comical resemblance to Jajjay in Sialkot, province Punjab, and its eminent son, our minister for the interior, Alaska, America’s north westernmost state, clearly suffers a similar predilection for rubbing the country’s face in the dust, first with Sarah Palin and now Gordon Epperly. Both Republicans, of course.
And the supposed reason for Obama’s non-eligibility? That he is, as Epperly terms it, a “mulatto.”
The petition states:
“As Barack Hussein Obama II is of the "mulatto" race, his status of citizenship is founded upon the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before the [purported] ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the race of "Negro" or "mulatto" had no standing to be citizens of the United States under the United States Constitution.”
It’s sad but probably too late to return Alaska to the Russians from whom it was purchased more than a hundred years ago.
The case has little chance of succeeding in court; however, it does highlight an important if obvious fact: racism is alive and well in the US, as it is everywhere else.
Ms Neighbourhood Watch next door when she dropped in at our place, was beside herself over the matter, and in the space of the next half hour had related five other undeniable examples of American racism as experienced in the USA by herself, her daughter, her aunt’s sister-in-law, her son and his mother-in-law’s uncle. However when, as she left, I enquired about the status of her youngest daughter’s well publicised marriage proposal, she huffed and replied, “Of course we refused him. He came from a nice family, but really he was too black.”
We had been invited for tea at Watch’s place as a “thank you” for lending our garden to her son’s Mehandi (by origin a most un-Islamic celebration) the previous week.In a cobbled courtyard luxuriant with ferns, hot pink gardenias and a froth of bougainvillea, tea was served in an exquisite Blue Italian Spode service which I admired, and the hostess simpered and disclosed that she kept it under lock and key in case the maid used it for herself.
“Yes, you don’t want this broken,” I agreed.
“Oh it’s not that,” she hastened to clarify the matter and to reassure me, “She’s Christian, so we keep our dishes separate.”
The new daughter-in-law Marilyn hovered about the tea table and passed around the cake and sandwiches. Marilyn was strawberries and cream English, and we were informed in a stage whisper that she came of ‘excellent stock’. Judging by the gold cross around her neck as she took tentative bites of samosa off the Spode, she certainly did look like an excellent Christian stock.
In spite of Mr Epperly’s petition, the Fourteenth Amendment clearly defines what ‘citizenship’ means for those born in the United States, and as per this definition neither civil nor political rights may be denied these citizens.
In a striking similarity, the Pakistan Constitution does not allow any law, custom or usage to take away or abridge the rights (thus) conferred upon any person.A daily newspaper reports that products are kept off the shelves of canteens at the Punjab University by the student wing of a right-wing political party because their owners are believed to be non-Muslim. It is also claimed by students, canteen owners and workers alike, that this student wing takes a cut on drinks allowed in the canteens, and that its members run up tabs at the canteens which are never paid.
The fact that any given organisation evokes the name of Islam or its Prophet appears to be enough for the people of this country, who rah-rah this organisation to power which it then proceeds to abuse by contravening the law as well as the teachings of the religion, none of which lowers its credentials in the least. Nor do these contraventions register in comparison to other similar cases around the world that are condemned here, because they are unbelievers.
Whatever anyone else does, being Muslim does not confer a license to ignore or break the law.
Neighbourhood Watch along with the rest of us have yet to learn to separate a cultural practice such as institutionalised racism from religion even though what is considered religion often bears no resemblance to the actual at all, certainly no resemblance at all to the religion of Islam.
This issue is important enough to discuss repeatedly, because this is what is tearing the country apart since disrespect for minorities spreads – and it has spread – to the whole.I will vote for whoever puts this issue genuinely on the agenda and continue to support him/her if it is addressed.