American politics and politicians fascinate me in the same way that their history does. From the days of their great men of faith and vision like the Pilgrim Fathers, the Founding Fathers and the Patriots right through to the times of deeply courageous men who were blessed with a powerful intellect and huge moral suasion like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, this is indeed a blessed land with an extraordinary and rich heritage and history.
From the heady days of their struggle for independence from the British, right up to the tumultuous times of Abraham Lincoln and John Brown and their bitter struggle against slavery, the civil war and so much more, the American story is littered with heroes and heroic acts and presents us with compelling evidence of the fact that ultimately good always triumphs over evil.
From the beginning right up until modern times and indeed today, their history and their story, with all its twists and turns, is not only inspiring but also a great testimony to the power of the Living God.
Yet today, America is at a crossroads and in the next few weeks and months she will decide who President Barack Obama will pass the baton of leadership to. That choice is critical because it will determine whether the self-styled “land of the free and home of the brave” will, once again, be transformed into a great and major power with the strength and immense moral authority that she once enjoyed on the world stage or whether she will gradually lose her mystique and prestige and recede into a divided, conflicted, pitiful, isolated, intellectually weak, economically crippled, greatly diminished and morally bankrupt spent force.
All this in a world that is witnessing and experiencing the growing power and strength of an increasingly assertive Russia and China. There is no gainsaying that the race for the White House this year is probably the most important in recent times because the consequences of the choice that the American people will eventually make will affect the entire world for either good or bad.
Needless to say the stakes are high. Given this, I am delighted that my preferred candidate and fellow evangelical christian, the brilliant African American neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, finally saw the writing on the wall and dropped out of the race for the Presidential nomination of the Republican Party. I am also thrilled that he has thrown his support behind Mr.
Donald Trump who I believe is a simply remarkable man that is blessed with immense potential and promise. Dr. Carson is the second Presidential candidate in the Republican party that has dropped out of the race and endorsed Mr. Trump, the first being Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. These are indeed good times for the colorful billionaire. He has done exceptionally well regardless of the numerous conspiracies within the leadership of his own party to stop him and regardless of the controversies that appear to trail him.
Yet Mr. Trump has had his own fair share of challenges, trials and tribulations. The ugly affair at his Chicago rally on March 11 being one of them. The disruption of that rally and the suppression of freedom of speech by a large crowd of violent and threatening anti-Trump protesters at the event was appalling and unacceptable and it shows us the level to which those that wish to oppose him are prepared to go.
This was an organised and premeditated effort to disrupt the rally and as Mr. Marco Rubio , another contender for the GOP presidential nomination told CNN, it was ”a clear violation of Mr. Trump’s first amendment rights”. The suppression of free speech for any reason is unacceptable and the protesters that shut down Mr. Trumps rally were an utter disgrace.
The truth is that that sort of behaviour will not deter Mr. Trump or his supporters and such lawlessness will only swell the ranks of those who believe in him and his cause. It will also embolden and enlarge his support base. I hope and believe that he will win the GOP presidential nomination comfortably and after that, despite his numerous eccentricities and idiosyncrasies, I believe that he will go on to give Secretary Hilary Clinton a damn good fight in the November presidential election.
The truth is that if any of the American Presidential candidates energizes and excites me it is Mr. Trump. This is because he is tough, fearless, strong, quick off the mark, sharp, charming, witty and refreshing. He also offers a genuine hope of restoration and a safe return to traditional American conservative, and I daresay, Christian values. For example he is against same-sex marriage and he is strongly pro-life.
He also believes passionately in building up the American Armed Forces and renewing their strength and glory and in the implementation of a strong and virile foreign policy. He is the only American presidential candidate that has publicly admitted that removing Sadam Hussein and Muammar Ghadaffi from power in Iraq and Libya respectively was a grave error which has led to nothing but chaos. Unlike President Obama and Secretary Hilary Clinton and instead rather like President Putin and the Russians, he recognises evil for what it is and he is committed to fighting islamic fundamentalism and islamist terror with everything that he has got.
Consequently he has pledged to send 30,000 ground troops into Iraq and Syria to take on ISIL. That is like music to my ears. He is pro-Israel and he seems to understand the dangers that the anti-secularist forces in the Middle East and the ethos and philosophiy of the salifists and wahhabists of Saudi Arabia pose to world peace far better than any other American politician.
Most important of all he is prepared to speak his mind and say what he believes about any issue no matter whose ox is gored. With Trump what you see is what you get. That is a rare quality among politicians from anywhere in the world and it ought to be encouraged. By nature politicians have to compromise on everything otherwise they cannot get elected and they very rarely say what they mean or mean what they say.
They must always be seen to be politically correct. It is for this very reason that I do not regard myself as being a politician in the true sense of the word. Unlike most I will never compromise with what or who I consider to be incompetent, questionable, insincere, malicious. ill-motivated, bloodthirsty, bigoted or evil. Like Mr. Trump, I will always call a spade a spade. Like Mr. Trump, I will never see darkness and call it light or see light and call it darkness.
And like U.S. President Harry Truman said many years ago, “I never give them hell: I just speak the truth and they think that they are in hell”. Yet, despite my fondness and respect for Mr. Trump there is one area in which I believe that he is getting it badly wrong and that is in his expression of thoughts about members of the Muslim faith. He fired the first salvo a couple of weeks ago when he said that all Muslims should be banned from coming to the United States of America. This created a major storm all over the world coupled with a deep sense of fear, trepidation and outrage from millions of Muslims. Yet sadly, he did not stop there.
During the course of the GOP Presidential candidates debate which was aired live by CNN on 10th of March, he said “Islam hates us”, meaning that ALL Muslims hate America and the rest of the non-Muslim world. This assertion is divisive and deeply offensive.
It is also blatantly false and I don’t have to be a Muslim to say or know it. It is true that radical Islam ”hates us”. It is true that the Islamic fundamentalists ”hate us”. It is true that the Islamists ”hate us”. It is true that the Jihadists ”hate us” but it is NOT true that “Islam hates us”. ISIL, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Hamas, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Islamic Jihad, the Fulani militants/herdsmen, the Al Nusra Front and all the other terrorists and terror groups in the world ”hate us” but the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not and neither do they indulge in acts of terror.
As pained and concerned as we are about what is going on in the world today and about the barbarous atrocities that the terrorists are committing on a daily basis, we must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. Simple logic alone does not allow Mr. Trump’s absurd assertion to withstand proper scrutiny. For example, it is clear that Chancellor Adolf Hitler did not represent Christianity when he murdered 6 million Jews and caused a global war in which 50 million people were killed.
Again, it is clear that another great monster of human history, King Leopold 11 of Belgium, did not represent Christianity when he ordered the slaughter of no less than 10 million Africans in the Belgian Congo. Again, Mr. Pol Pot of Cambodia and Mr. Josef Stalin of the old Soviet Union, both leaders of ruthless communist totalitarian states that did not recognize or believe in the existence of God, did not represent their fellow atheists when they murdered no less than 25 million and 30 million of their own people respectively.
It is in the same way that Osama Bin Ladin and Ayman Al Zawahiri of Al Qaeda, Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi of the Islamic State hIn The Levant, (ISIL), Mohammed Yusuf and Abubakar Shekau of Boko Haram, Mullah Mohammed Omar and Aktar Mansoor of the Taliban, Ahmed Abdi Godan of Al Shabab, Ismael Haniye of Hamas, Abu Mohammed Al Julani of the Al Nusra Front and all the other salifist and Islamist leaders that are filled with hate, that have shed oceans of innocent blood and that have unleashed terror on defenseless citizens all over the world do not represent Islam or Muslims.
That is the point that people like Mr. Trump fail to appreciate and are unable to grasp. If we do not make this distinction very clear and emphasize the fact that not all Muslims are filled with hate and are terrorists, we run the risk of alienating millions of decent God-fearing Muslims from all over the world who hate the jihadists and terrorists just as much as we do and who also deplore their actions. Let me bring this closer to home.
There are millions of Muslims in the south-western part of Nigeria where I come from but, as far as I am aware, not one of them is a terrorist and very few of them are filled with hate. My late mother of blessed memory, Chief Mrs. Adia Adunni Fani-Kayode, was a devout and practicing Christian though both her paternal and maternal family, the Sa’id family of Ilesa and the Isa-Williams family of Isale Eko, Lagos, are Muslims. Not one of them is hate-filled, is a terrorist or is an extremist. Yoruba Muslims are not violent and they have never been Jihadists.
This is because, unlike in the north, Islam was introduced to the South-West by the Turkish sea traders who were very tolerant and liberal in the practice of their faith and not by Jihad. Generally speaking, we in the south-west preach and practice love, tolerance and unity among our people and this is particularly so between the adherents of the two great faiths of Christianity and Islam. Even the pagans among us are tolerated and honored. This is a testimony to our high level of enlightenment and civilization as a people. It is evidence of our deep sense of fair play, justice, compassion and humanity and our liberal and accommodating disposition.
I am very proud of that part of my heritage and it is confirmed by the fact that we often marry across religious lines. For example my father’s family have been not just Christians but also pastors and priests for four generations and my mother’s family are Muslims. My Muslim name, which was given to me by my mother’s side of the family, is Abdul Latif. As a matter of fact I doubt that there is one family in South-Western Nigeria today that does not have both Christians and Muslims within its ranks.
The Muslims in Yoruba land often celebrate Christmas with those of us that are Christians just as we often celebrate Ileya and other Muslim festivals with them. This has been the case for centuries and in my view it is a beautiful thing. Our unity, love, tolerance and respect for each others faith in the south-west is our strength and the end-product of that harmonious relationship is peace.
In the light of this how can anyone in their right mind suggest that the Muslims of south-western Nigeria, or indeed any other true Muslim from anywhere else in the world, hates the rest of us or hates America? How can anyone describe Yoruba Muslim groups like the Ahmaddiyas, Ansar Ud Deen, the Sufis, NASFAT, just to mention a few, as bloodthirsty murderers and terrorists that are filled with hate for those that do not share their faith? Such an assertion is not only baseless but it is also, at best, intellectually dishonest and, at worst, blatant and premeditated misinformation and falsehood.
Such a statement is utterly perfidious: it is nothing but a specious lie from the pit of hell and it can best be described as utter and complete garbage. We must appreciate the fact that the only way we can win the war against terror and resist the revival and practice of the most evil, virulent and extreme form of Islamic fundamentalism that the world has ever witnessed is if we all stand together as one against it. We must resist the urge and temptation of lumping all Muslims together and tarring them with the same brush.
The bottom line is as follows: not all Muslims are bad and not all terrorists are Muslims. In the same way not all Christians are good and not all peacemakers and righteous men are Christians. This is a crucial lesson that Mr. Trump and all those that think like him need to learn before he is elected President of the United States of America and before it is too late.
Femi Fani-Kayode was former Minister of Aviation, he wrote in from Lagos