The presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney has been wrought with ridiculous commentary as to whether a Mormon is fit to become president of the United States. Indeed, Mormons in America have long endured discrimination, ridicule and hostility in our country.
So it is beyond absurdity that Romney, who is a target of religious bigots himself, has now channeled that same religious bigotry by making American Muslims collectively feel like the GEICO cavemen.
According to a piece in the Christian Science Monitor, an American Muslim financier asked the former Republican Massachusetts governor about putting a Muslim in a Romney presidential Cabinet. Romney’s brilliantly enlightened response was that he “cannot see that a Cabinet position would be justified,” based on the percentage of Muslims in the United States.
Contextualizing his religious quota statement, he did graciously add: “But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration. . . .” He has got to be kidding.
For sheer giggles, let us assume that we were in Romney’s “Quota America.” Since African-Americans make up more than 12 percent of the population, we should have about 12 African-American senators. How many do we have? One. Barack Obama of Illinois.
Furthermore, since women make up 51 percent of the American public, we should then logically have 51 female senators serving in the hallowed halls of Congress. As of Nov. 1, 2006, there were 16 women senators serving in the 100- person body. Although an all-time high, historical context shows that there have been 35 women in the U.S. Senate since the establishment of that body in 1789. This means that out of the approximately 1,895 Americans who have served in the Senate since that time, only 1.85 percent of all senators have been female.
On Romney’s brilliant idea to have elected positions based on religious quotas, USA Today reported that, “. . . the 15 Mormons in Congress is a slightly greater representation than the religious group’s percentage of the general population. A religious minority, Mormons represent less than 2 percent of the American population. . . .”
And lest we forget America’s favorite bout of religious hysteria: Even though Catholics represent more than 26 percent of the American population, we had to put our sole Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, through the religious wringer in a paranoid fear that his puppet strings were going to be pulled at the sinister behest of the Vatican.
Unfortunately, Romney’s religious roundabout is a one-way street and he should be pandering his politics of religious hysteria to the “perfected” Ann Coulter voters out there who base their vote solely on religious affiliation.
But then again, they wouldn’t vote for him because of his religion.
Arsalan Iftikhar is contributing editor for Islamica magazine in Washington, D.C.