UPDATE 2:00 p.m.: As expected, Obama made a powerful call for religious freedom and greater representation when visiting the Islamic Society of Baltimore. "Our TV shows should have Muslim characters that are unrelated to national security," Obama said, referencing Hollywood's ongoing diversity problem. "It's not that hard to do." Obama also took aim at many Republicans' repeated attempts at demonizing the religion, referencing the fact that many mistook Thomas Jefferson as a Muslim so he was obviously "in good company."
See original story below.
Sadly, a crucial component of many Republican presidential candidates' general rhetoric revolves around the downright anti-American sentiment that the path toward so-called greatness somehow lies in a sickening adherence to Islamophobia. As this gross appeal to ignorance continues to spread, President Barack Obama will make a plea for unity and acceptance during a visit to a mosque in Baltimore on Wednesday. As noted by Fusion, Obama will be visiting the same mosque where Adnan Syed formerly worshiped. Syed, the subject of Sarah Koenig's Serial, will be at a hearing just a few miles down the street during Obama's visit.
"This is an opportunity in the eyes of the president to send a clear signal to the Muslim American community that the president of the United States is going to firmly defend your right in this country to worship God consistent with your tradition and your heritage," Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, tells ABC News. "That is a founding principle of our democracy." Earnest adds that the timing of Obama's visit is indeed no coincidence, admitting that its status as a direct rebuttal to Republicans' "political tactics" is "obvious to everyone."
Obama, who will meet with officials at the Islamic Society of Baltimore in a private setting before delivering public remarks, previously visited mosques in Istanbul and Indonesia in 2009 and 2010, respectively. "For some time, we've been asking for pushback," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tells the Associated Press. "Perhaps this will start a trend."
For what it's worth, a recent poll revealed that more than half of Republican voters still think Obama himself is a Muslim. In addition to the obvious fact that it really shouldn't matter what Obama (or any president) believes or doesn't believe, such a statistic provides some depressing insight into what exactly an otherwise progressive society is up against.