Today, President Obama visited a mosque for the first time during his presidency, where he delivered a message of tolerance and inclusion. “You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American,” the president said, “And don’t grow cynical.” The visit offended Marco Rubio, who called it yet another example of Obama’s “constant pitting people against each other. I can’t stand that.”
Rubio’s condemnation was so bizarrely at odds with the substance of Obama’s remarks that some observers found themselves at a loss to even follow his meaning:
WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN https://t.co/k2bZgSbDKN— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) February 3, 2016
Let me explain. One of the tenets of conservative social analysis holds that conservatives are tolerant and color-blind, and the troubles between groups arise from liberals appealing to minorities on the basis of their identity. Defending social tolerance in a mosque therefore equals making an appeal to Muslims as Muslims, which in turn equals pitting people against each other.
Obama and Rubio follow very different theories of the proper treatment of social minorities. One of those men is president of the United States, and the other has no business holding that position.