There are hundreds of thousands of Muslims in New York City alone. Some readers of this site may recall that we once characterized Brooklyn as the "Mecca of Arab America".
Granted that these are two distinct identities -- being Muslim and Arab -- but the truth is that they often overlap, here in New York and the United States, as well as in the Middle East.
[The photo we have selected to accompany this post is of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, a very interesting neighborhood in Brooklyn, and it was pulled from the Society's web site. Worshipers at the Society are largely immigrants from Arab countries. They are, of course, Muslims.]
The point of the above headline is that both of these groups, Muslims and Arabs living in the States, are conspicuously missing from discussions taking place in this otherwise exciting presidential election year.
Given the way the Bush administration has lied and blundered in its handling of Middle East policy, one would think Democrats would have reached out to Muslim Americans, for advice and support.
But no. Hillary Clinton has almost completely turned her back on that community, ever since her first run for the Senate. She apparently feared being linked with Muslims who have no significant voting base in New York State and feared also the possibility of alienating Jewish voters.
Barack Obama has also kept a certain distance, and while he's likely driven by the same concerns as Clinton, he's dealing with other worries as well.
One is that many Americans think he was once a Muslim and, very much related to that, some of his enemies are linking his middle name (Hussein) with a certain fellow (now dead, hanged amid taunts) named Saddam.
Despite Obama's failure to assertively embrace them, there are indications that tens of thousands of Muslim-Americans (and we're talking voting citizens here) prefer Obama over the others still in the presidential race.
The following quote taken from a Grand Rapids Press article is pertinent:
"Jim Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, said many Arab Americans are drawn to Obama because of his cultural background.
"'It is clear he wants to have a broader relationship with the Muslim world,' Zogby said."
Muslim Americans -- many of whom, perhaps a third or more, are African Americans -- have much to say about the state of affairs in the States.
But their voices have been silenced.