This Is Not a Christian Nation
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This post, written by Cenk Uygur, originally appeared on The Huffington Post
I am an American.
My name is not Jimmy Johnson, it is not Virgil Goode and it is not John McCain. But I am an American. No more, no less than any of these people.
My name is Cenk Uygur. And I am proud of it. It might sound a little different to your ear, but it doesn't make it any less American. That's the whole point of the country. If I wanted to live in a place where your race, ethnicity or religion mattered, there were plenty of other countries to choose from. I chose to be an American because I believed we were all equals in the eyes of the law.
Apparently, 42 United States Congressmen are not so sure. The House passed a resolution today celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The point of the resolution was to show that we are an open country and that a Muslim-American is equal to any other American. That we are all to be celebrated as Americans. Forty-two representatives couldn't get themselves to agree.
These Congressmen did not vote for the resolution, they voted "present" instead. Is this a silent protest? What are they protesting? Do they disagree that we should celebrate all of the cultures in the country? Do they disagree that we should have Muslims in the country at all?
One of them, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) has already said that on the record -- and refuses to apologize. He said we should have less Muslims in Congress and less Muslims in the country at all. His colleagues didn't see fit to correct him. Moveon takes out a newspaper ad questioning one general and Congress goes ballistic. A US Congressman says we should discriminate against a whole group of US citizens and not a peep.
When John McCain said he wanted a Christian president earlier in the week, I didn't pay much attention to it. I think we overemphasize gaffes on the campaign trail. I care how these people are going to lead the country, not how many errors they make while speaking 24/7 on the campaign trail.
By the way, how did a media so obsessed with verbal blunders decide that George W. Bush was the right man for the job - twice? We were told John Kerry misspoke too often. What a topsy-turvy world we live in.
So, I didn't want to get caught up in this game. At this point, I am unfortunately used to people deriding people of the Muslim faith in America anyway. It has become an ugly reality of our country. It's so common that it's taken for granted now.
A couple of days ago, Ann Coulter was on the Today show and she said the real problem with Senator McCain's comment was that he later said he would vote for a Muslim if he agreed with him. How dare he? Doesn't he realize that a patriotic American would never vote for a Muslim? They are the enemy. They are less than other Americans. They are not equal. This is a Christian nation!
You see, that's what bothers me. I am not a religious Muslim at all. In fact, I am agnostic. I don't participate in Ramadan. I don't need a resolution celebrating it. But once you bring it up for a vote, to purposely not vote for it is a clear sign. It is not a slip of the tongue or a miscommunication in the midst of a hectic campaign schedule. It is a deliberate act meant to send a message. And that's what I do care about. It is a sign that we are not welcome.
Cenk Uygur is co-host of The Young Turks, the first liberal radio show to air nationwide.