This week, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, a Black man, stated unequivocally that American voters should not elect a Muslim to be president.
"I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation," he told NBC's Meet The Press. "I absolutely would not agree with that."
When 12-year-old Yusuf Dayur heard that, he decided to speak up. With his mom's help, Yusuf recorded a message directed at Carson. "This is my response to presidential candidate Ben Carson," Yusuf began.
"Mr Carson," Yusuf said, "What if someone told you that you can't become president because of your color? What if someone told you that you can't become president because of your race? What if someone told you can't become president because of your faith? And that's what you did to me."
Yusuf went on to say that he had wanted to become president since he was 2 or 3. "You basically shattered my dreams because you said that a Muslim person cannot become president. People back in the '60s, '70s, during slavery — people would say that Black people couldn't be president."
Carson's comments prompted widespread backlash, but it also courted even more support for the retired neurosurgeon who has never held office and now wants to run the nation.
"The money has been coming in so fast, it's hard to even keep up with it," he said, when asked whether his remarks affected his fundraising.
Statements such as Carson's reflect a fundamental hostility from a small but vocal population towards Islam, fueled in part by conservative fear-mongering. Similarly, during Donald Trump's campaign rally in New Hampshire, an audience member said to the GOP front-runner, "We have a problem in this country and it's Muslims." The man also stated that President Obama was a Muslim, which Trump appeared to agree with.
But Carson's opinions are out of step with what the general American public thinks, according to a Gallup poll.
The survey found that 6 in 10 Americans have absolutely no issue with a Muslim president — but that even some 40 percent do is troubling.
Perhaps Colin Powell, the former Republican secretary of atate who served under President George W. Bush, put it best when responding to claims that Obama was a Muslim from seven years ago:
The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He's a Christian, he's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, 'What if he is? Is there really something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer is no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president?
Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.