While we’re all so consumed with the presidential race here in the United States, we often forget that there are other elections happening in other countries that have major ramifications for the world.
Voters in the United Kingdom, for example, just recently went to the polls. They selected, among other things, a new mayor of London, one of the world’s most treasured cities.
And since this is England we’re talking about, I’m sure they elected some dude named Nigel, or Oliver, or Finley. Something like that, right? In my head I’m basically picturing Nigel Thornberry from the old Nickeloden show “The Wild Thornberrys.”
Wait, what’s that you say? They elected who? A man named Sadiq Khan?
And he’s … Muslim?!
OH MY GOD. RUN FOR THE HILLS. GRAB THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN AND ABANDON YE SHIP. THE WORLD HAS OFFICIALLY MET ITS END. HEAD FOR THE HILLS AND DON’T LOOK BACK.
I mean, I assume he walks around with a turban, a long beard, and just shouts threatening Arabic statements at random.
He doesn’t? You say he’s actually clean cut, well spoken, qualified and highly intelligent? He has 10 years experience in Parliament and is a human rights lawyer?
And after being elected, he lauded Londoners for choosing hope over fear and unity over division during a time when Islamophobia has hit an all-time high in the West?
… can he run for American president?
Last Saturday was an important time for the world. Because it was a day that proved that Islamic ideals can align with those of the West. That a Muslim can be accepted to lead people of all skin colors and religions.
Which is exactly the opposite of what ISIS is trying to preach in order to gain more sympathizers. And, in turn, it’s exactly the message that Donald Trump is also parading around on the campaign trail — that Muslims and white people are basically incompatible.
And Donald Trump, of course, has made a major campaign promise to bar Muslims from entering the U.S. if he is elected president. But, in a wonderful change of heart that should brighten everyone’s view of him, he said this week that he might make an exception for Sadiq Khan. What an honor.
Khan, 45, is the son of Pakistani immigrants. Will he suddenly change everyone’s worldview? Of course not. Firstly, he has to prove that he’s a good mayor. That he’s competent. If he does that, then maybe down the line he can become a symbol for something bigger.
But it does go to show that people can still make choices based not on fear or ignorance, but on hope and reason.
I don’t expect there to be a Muslim U.S. governor anytime soon. Although, Minnesota voters did elect the first Muslim to Congress nine years ago, by the name of Keith Ellison (who, in case you’re wondering, endorsed Bernie Sanders in this year’s election).
There are 3.3 Muslims in America, making up about 1 percent of the population. That number is expected to double by 2050.
Let’s stop acting like they’re not a significant part of our nation that we claim we’re trying so hard to protect. They’re not the threat — our own ignorance is.
Learn from London. We could all be better off for it one day.