Monday, December 29, 2008

Op-Ed: Everybody Wants Change

This morning the American Muslim Task Force held a press conference at the National Press Club in response to Israel's weekend entry into "all out war" with Hamas as stated by Defense Minister Barak.

Mahid Bray of the Task Force called upon the incoming administration get involved on the side of the Gazans. He called for change. Change in policy, change in attitude, change in the name of Barack the most merciful...

I'm not very moved by the revolving door of people and causes who will be stacking their interests in the pile in front of the White House door predicated on the amorphous call to change.

Everybody wants change. That's why the slogan works. And in post-election America we seem to be about to spend the next 4 to 8 years arguing over what "good change" entails as it intersects with out interests.

Mr. Bray did make a good point in his call for the next President to adhere to Arms Export control Act. Among other things, the Act gives the President to prohibit exports to "increase the possibility of outbreak or escalation of conflict". I suspect that would apply in this case. Actually for that mater, it also prohibits exports to countries that "aid in the development of weapons of mass destruction" and its generally considered an open secret that Israel has developed nuclear weapons. Of course, so has Pakistan and they've been getting quite a lot of defense services from us lately.

Larry Shaw, a state senator from NC and a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, started out by effectively apologizing to Barack for Muslim organizations being unable to openly support his campaign due to their perceived (and actual) political toxicity. Then he called for Muslims to be "included in every department at every level" which seemed kind of counter-intuitive.

Like Bray, he did have a substantive proposal: Leverage the SBA to energize small business capitalization with $50 billion. We've heard the mantra, going back to the Reagan administration, that small businesses are the engines of job creation in America. Of course, I've read some figures that dispute that but since I'm in the process of creating a small business, yeah, let's do that!

I'm skeptical that the Muslim community will see a large amount of engagement from the Obama administration, at least publicly. Still a hot issue politically. According to Agha Saeed, the AMTF chairman, 89% of American Muslim voters supported Obama. What percentage of the entire electorate is that? What percentage of any state electorate is that? You do the math.

Finally, Nihad Awad came out with calls for the change Barack Obama's campaign was based upon, followed by the hyperbolic statement that we can't write a "blank check to destroy the Middle East!". Yes, Nihad, unfortunately, Yes We Can.

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