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Literacy Tests for White Voters


workerstakingtest.jpgAlthough America has made great strides in civil rights, the legacy of our racist past still lingers. It is not easy to change the trajectory of a society simply by granting equal rights to historically oppressed minority groups. There must be compensatory measures. For nearly 50 years, black Americans have enjoyed voting rights nearly equal to those of whites (with some notorious exceptions, e.g. Florida 2000). And while black voters and politicians have helped to bring sanity and a sense of social justice to American society, white voters have remained numerous enough to consistently jeopardize and often disgrace the nation.

With this in mind, and given what is at stake in the 2008 elections, I propose that we bring back a relic of American political history–the literacy test. In the past, literacy tests asked questions about obscure laws and were used to disenfranchise black voters. The new literacy tests are different. They will ensure that white people meet a minimum level of cultural and political awareness before completing their ballots. And unlike literacy tests in the past, the new tests are not designed to usurp civil rights. Rather, they will ensure that voters properly educate themselves. To this end, study guides for the white voter literacy test will be readily available at your local Barnes and Noble.More…

Here are some sample questions from the test:

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All of the following countries border Iraq EXCEPT:
a. Syria
b. Jordan
c. Wahhabi Arabia
d. Iran

Which of the following is counted among the “five pillars of Islam”?
a. Hating freedom
b. Giving charity
c. Spreading terror
d. Oppressing women

The classic American novel, Native Son, was authored by:
a. Richard Wright
b. O’Shea Jackson
c. Calvin Broadus
d. Christopher Wallace

Select the answer choice that best completes the following sentence:

Prior to the September 11 attacks, ________ bin Laden operated military training camps in ________.
a. Obama // Iraq
b. Osama // Iraq
c. Obama // Afghanistan
d. Osama // Afghanistan

“NATO” is an acronym for the ________, a powerful international organization with vast military capacities?
a. Negroes And Towel-heads Organization
b. New Arab Terror Organization
c. North Atlantic Treaty Organization
d. Non-Aligned Trade Organization

Enron collapsed due to which of the following?
a. Affirmative action
b. Corporate corruption
c. The liberal media
d. The terrorists

In the sentence, “Global warming threatens the tundra’s survival in its current state”, the term tundra refers to:
a. where the Green Bay Packers play football.
b. an area with low tree growth due to short summers.
c. a small Latin American country where many immigrants originate.
d. a pick-up truck.

Who was George Herbert Walker Bush’s opponent in the 1988 presidential election?
a. Michael Dukakis
b. Willie Horton
c. Manuel Noriega
d. Ronald Reagan

The state of Israel was founded in:
a. 700 BC
b. 1 CE
c. 1492 CE.
d. 1948 CE

Saddam Hussein was formerly a member of which political organization?
a. Al Qaeda
b. Radical Islam
c. Ba’th Party
d. Evil Doers

Since the test is still in development, your suggestions for new questions are welcome.

There are some special rules about this test that impact the multiethnic Muslim community. Immigrants from historically Muslim countries will be required to sit for the test, but they will only have to respond to this question on the registration page:

[Please answer if you originate from a historically Muslim country. Circle the correct choice.]

True or False: I am considered “white” in America.

For those who answer correctly, the test will be waived. Those who answer incorrectly will not be allowed to vote.

And finally, many may wonder if white Muslims will be exempt from the test. It is true that accepting Islam is one of the most non-white things that you can do. However, this is still America. White privilege is white privilege. So white Muslims: you will have to take the test, no matter how much you like Zaid Shakir, Sherman Jackson, or Malcolm X.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Musa Maguire is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and accepted Islam after graduating from college. In 2004-2005, he received a Fulbright grant to study in Egypt, and then spent the following year working at Huda TV, an English-language Islamic satellite channel that broadcasts from Cairo.



  1. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    March 27, 2008 at 10:18 AM

    Irish-American Muslims like me will not have to take the test because we don’t believe in voting. :)

  2. Hassan

    March 27, 2008 at 11:52 AM

    In numerous places in Quran, Allah has said:

    “And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden”.

    I see no advantage of any laws/regulations that punishes whites for being of the same color of people that are and used to be racist, no collective punishments.

  3. Shawna

    March 27, 2008 at 11:54 AM

    lol. this had me laughing and sad at the same time.

  4. Hood

    March 27, 2008 at 12:22 PM

    Amazing how we try to counter ignorance with ignorance.

    “Islam is the most un-white thing you can do?”
    Since when was Islam to be framed in ethnicities and colors?

    God’s messenger did not indict people based on their colors, tribes, or backgrounds. Instead, he concentrated on the positive things that their particular cultures and experiences had to offer, and used those for the betterment of them as a whole, to entice them to accept Islam. To let them know that Islam only fortifies the good that they already had.

    While there may have been some comedic effect expected from this post, in general it does nothing to call to God’s path, and only enforces stereotypes that many white and non-white people have of Muslims, or they of themselves.

    Lets strive follow the Messenger’s example. Instead of countering bigotry with bigotry, hate with hate, and generalizations with generalizations.

    May God make that easy for us, Amin.

  5. TheManOfFewWords

    March 27, 2008 at 12:23 PM

    This is preposterous!!!

    The real test should have only one question. “Do you think that voting matters a wit in the US?” The correct answer is “no.” Whoever gets this right will be allowed to vote.

    This literacy test would then become the greatest Catch 22 in the history of Mankind as the only ones who can vote are the ones who believe that their vote matters.

    Thus those who actually WANT to vote while knowing that their vote is worthless will actually be really stupid.

    Because stupid people happen to screw everthing up this would be disastrous in a good working system. Fortunately for us, we don’t have a good working system.

    That means that these stupid people will totally screw up an already screwed up system. Math tells us that if you multiply two negatives you get a positive.

    Ergo … this literacy test will actually solve all of our political and social ills!!! A little counterintuitive I know but math doesn’t lie!

  6. TheManOfFewWords

    March 27, 2008 at 12:29 PM

    But on a more serious note, (yes, i do have a serious note) (?) this literacy test reinforces the dominant imperial narrative. That’s right, you, Musa, with all your pretending to the contrary, are an imperialist!!! Don’t try and deny it because I am about to expose the samosas out of you.

    Americans have a God given right to be ignorant about any country the choose including Iraq, Afghanistan and whatever other uninvaded hell-hole that exists on earth.

    Also constitutional rights allow ignorance about major world religions, geography, history, grammar, weather and the environment.

    What Americans should understand however is that the governement shouldnt HAVE to force them into learning about these things by obliterating the enironment, invading Kerplopistan, and summarily genociding (what! I made it up, so?) Muslims.

    Add that question to your list you goose stepping Imperial Boot Licker!!!

  7. Amad

    March 27, 2008 at 1:02 PM

    This was hilarious…

    MoFW, huh??

  8. Musa Maguire

    March 27, 2008 at 1:15 PM


    The White Voter Literacy Test Administratiion takes very seriously any claims of ethnic bias or skewed power relations in the testing process. We assure you that the test will be vetted by expert committees on cultural sensitivity and imperial discourses.

    We appreciate your commitment to fairness and the preservation of American democracy. In fact, these are the very values that led us to develop the test.

    Please feel free to contact us with any other questions or concerns.

    Musa Maguire
    Director, WVLT Initiative

  9. theManOfFewWords

    March 27, 2008 at 1:28 PM

    Amad, huh?

    Musa Maguire,
    Your are as Imperialistic as you are bureacratic. How do I know? After your hatefilled diatribe cloaked in innocuous and inpenetrable legalese you invited us to contact you and, surprise, surprise, left no contact information.

  10. theManOfFewWords

    March 27, 2008 at 1:38 PM


    Upon further reflection I have become increasingly enraged. So now I shall curse you with the most horrific curses I know.

    May you be forced to watch all of Ben Stiller’s movies.

    May you hear a thousand annoying giggles.

    May your news come from Fox and your clothes from the Gap.

    May you marry a woman who loves cats excessively.

    May the roller on your mouse only work erratically.

    May you be stuck in a malfunctioning elevator carrying 8 sweaty trekkies in July for six hours.

    May you eat American cheese.

    May you develop a rare disease that makes you blink at the most exciting part of a movie.

  11. AnonyMouse

    March 27, 2008 at 1:40 PM

    :lol: @ MoFW and Musa

  12. Ammar Diwan

    March 27, 2008 at 3:03 PM

    It seems like you’re turning into the theManOfInfiniteWords :p

  13. WM

    March 27, 2008 at 3:54 PM

    I think you mean ManOfTooMuchFreeTime


  14. brother

    March 27, 2008 at 4:00 PM

    i concur with AMMER DIWAN. lol

  15. theManOfFewWords

    March 27, 2008 at 6:59 PM

    May you all debate with a polite, reasonable and very likable Zionist!!!

  16. Manas Shaikh

    March 27, 2008 at 9:50 PM

    The article and the comments section both were…


  17. Pingback: Vanity |

  18. mcpagal

    March 28, 2008 at 6:39 PM

    This post & comments section made my day :P

  19. Life

    March 28, 2008 at 7:05 PM

    After reading the comments about the “funniness” of this section, I found myself expressing a perplexing smile and a questioning frown on my forehead.

    I find myself smiling @ my comment, though.

    Maybe my style of humor is a minority.

  20. Life

    March 28, 2008 at 7:10 PM

    oh and yeah…what is the purpose of developing this literacy test? Just plain humor?

  21. theManOfFewWords

    March 29, 2008 at 12:41 AM


    Your comment is what I would call self-indulgent.

    The entire comment would have done much better as a thought, the kind not to be uttered or typed.

    Speaking your mind with such reckless abandon can only mean you are a female. That being the case I will temper my criticism and humiliate you no longer.

  22. Life

    March 29, 2008 at 1:27 AM

    Actually, after posting those comments, I kinda felt like deleting them. I was unsure about requesting a deletion because I thought I had a point. To make it clear, I don’t see how this test would help anyone. If the brother is just trying to make everyone laugh then, that’s another thing.

    Why, is it not allowed to post your thoughts on here? Unlike your comment, it was not a remark intended for hurting someone. Really. Sure, I could have written the comment differently. Care to teach? I’m ready to learn.

    You have humiliated females enough by limiting ‘reckless abandon’ to their style of expression (of thoughts). Who cares about how much more you have to “humiliate”?

    I don’t.

  23. Ruth Nasrullah

    March 29, 2008 at 11:13 AM

    Life, I believe the post is intended just to be funny, although at the same time it may make people stop and think.

    I agree with you that comments should be respectful and not hurtful. Among people who know each other, teasing or mocking is one thing, but it’s unclear to me here if the MOFW knows you or is just taking the opportunity to display his wit at your expense.

    MOFW and Life, if you know each other then the laugh’s on me, but if not then I can only say that sometimes no words is better than a few.

  24. theManOfFewWords

    March 29, 2008 at 11:56 PM


    I am sorry (not really) if my comments offended you. They were intended only to humiliate. You see, your extreme indecisiveness and difficulty understanding without a doubt that the above post was obviously made in jest makes you a bright shining target for people like me.

    Also, my comments may be a little on the “playful” side so you should really lighten up. I am sure that my attempts at “humiliating” you have not succeeded unless you would like to confirm the stereotype of the overly sensitive female.

    Ruth, I suppose that you present a plausible though not necessarily true, or untrue analysis. One could make a solid case that I am “taking the opportunity to display my wit at [Life’s] expense.”

    However, if that was the case, which I am not saying it is, then Life’s provocation would be my excuse. After all did she not make herself a target?

    This is of course all completely hypothetical as I am not really confirming or denying anything. As you know there are knowns, unknowns, known knowns and known unknowns.

  25. Faiez

    March 30, 2008 at 1:55 PM

    Here’s a question:

    Who is the current president of the United States?

    A. Bill Clinton
    B. Barak Obama
    C. George Bush
    D. Osama bin Ladin

  26. Life

    March 30, 2008 at 2:06 PM

    Sister Ruth,

    Jazakallah khair for your thoughtful words.


    I am clueless as to why you had intended to humiliate me. I am unsure about what you are referring to when you say the ‘above post’…you mean your comments or the ‘white literacy test’ post? In any case, I don’t care much.

    Your comments about feminine expression were offensive but not humiliating. Humiliation only occurs when what is being said is true. I don’t know if you said that wittingly or unwittingly but your remarks are sexist.

    I don’t know why you have made personal remarks about me when the topic of discussion is something else. Next time I speak, please don’t think that I’m refering to only you. My earlier comments were general, there was no need for overreacting.

    I am not interested in fighting. Salaam Alaikum!

  27. theManOfFewWords

    March 30, 2008 at 11:49 PM

    Life, I concede, you win.

  28. sarsoora

    March 31, 2008 at 8:36 AM

    lol outrageous

  29. Eagle

    March 31, 2008 at 7:15 PM

    There must be compensatory measures.

    Who would be compensated? If everyone is to be on an equal playing field, how can certain races be given preferencial treatment? By the way, this speaks to the issue of Affirmative Action in the U.S. What are you telling minorities when you tell then that they can have lower test scores that others for getting into colleges? You are telling them that they are not as smart, not as good.

    And while black voters and politicians have helped to bring sanity and a sense of social justice to American society, white voters have remained numerous enough to consistently jeopardize and often disgrace the nation.

    That statement is iteself a very racist statement. “White voters” have remained numerous enough to… this says that as a group white voters have some stereotypical quality that makes them all the same. And they have consistently jeopardized and often disgraced the nation? How has this strange race, these white people, jeopardized and disgraced the nation? These strange white people couldn’t possibly be related to the white people who founded this nation and set its design, could they? And they couldn’t be related to the white people who decided this nation would be a melting pot of all people?

    And while black voters and politicians have helped to bring sanity and a sense of social justice to American society…

    Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell are truly great Americans. Let’s look at some other black leaders:

    Al Sharpton’s finances target of federal probe

    Jesse Jackson admits love child

    Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) Indicted on Fraud, Bribery Counts

    Rev Jeremiah Wright lands Barack Obama in trouble again

    D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Arrested on Cocaine Charges in Undercover FBI, Police Operation

    I do think that literacy tests are a good idea. Maybe they should include some questions from or or maybe even

  30. Amad

    March 31, 2008 at 7:29 PM

    Eagle, apparently you didn’t get the joke!

    Musa Maguire, the author of this humor piece, is as white as it gets.

  31. theManOfFewWords

    March 31, 2008 at 11:46 PM

    Apparently no one on the internets has a sense of humor. I think its the tubes.

    On the bright side, the fellers of Muslim Matters can be proud that for one shining moment Eagle got to stick out his chest in indignation and feel self righteous and combat racism.

    By the way, on the topic of racism, do you wanna see lou dobbs almost call black leaders cotton pickers? Check this out, busted!!!

  32. Umm Uthmaan

    April 2, 2008 at 3:39 PM

  33. genieyclo

    May 10, 2008 at 1:35 AM

    i’m lmao right now…

  34. Jadid

    August 28, 2008 at 4:26 PM

    As a white Muslim. I love the last line! Hilarious!
    I did take and believed I passed.
    It was the liberal media that brought the collapse of Enron, correct :)

  35. Iesa Galloway

    August 28, 2008 at 5:27 PM

    Musa this is Hilarious!!!! JAK for the post…

    BTW who knew there were so many white Muslims?

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