TIME Opinion

Another Similarity Between Lincoln and Obama: They Polarized the Nation

Abraham Lincoln portrait
Stock Montage / Getty Images Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) posed for a formal portrait, mid-19th century.

Lincoln was a lightning rod—and Obama is too

Americans yearn for an end to political polarization and partisanship, and many today fault President Obama for failing to achieve consensus on his major initiatives: health care, immigration reform, foreign policy and so on. But consider Abraham Lincoln. From their state of origin to their legal backgrounds, the two presidents have drawn many comparisons, and here’s another: Despite his various efforts at outreach, our sixteenth president was, in life, an intensely polarizing and partisan figure, every bit as polarizing and partisan as our current president.

Lincoln’s presidency, which ended exactly 150 years ago today, sharply differed from the experience of his predecessors. Before Lincoln, five presidents had won a second term: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and Andrew Jackson. Each had carried both North and South in at least one of his presidential bids. By contrast, Lincoln was purely a regional candidate, despised by intense majorities in a large chunk of the country. In 1860, he received zero popular votes south of Virginia, and in 1864, none of the 11 states in Dixie held a valid presidential election, thanks to sectional war precipitated by Lincoln’s prior election. Even Lincoln’s assassination was related to regional differences: John Wilkes Booth was an intense southern partisan.

In the ensuing century and a half, many of America’s most successful presidents have managed to achieve considerable popularity in both North and South. Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton all outdid Lincoln in this regard. But our current president won, twice, by following a more emphatically Lincolnian path to power—that is, a distinctly northern route: Of the 11 states in the former confederacy, Obama lost eight twice, and lost a ninth (North Carolina) once, prevailing twice only in Virginia and Florida.

In our era, as in Lincoln’s, regional polarization is on the upswing. Prior to 1850, the winning presidential candidate typically carried both North and South. But that pattern broke down in the 1850s, even before Lincoln rose to national prominence; and a similar fate has befallen Obama. At the presidential level the North and the South have backed different candidates in every one of the six most recent elections; and many states are becoming increasingly red or blue, presidentially. In 2012, only four swing states—Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia—were close enough to be decided by fewer than five points.

If we shift gears from regional polarization to political polarization, Lincoln and Obama once again appear as political doubles. Both made efforts to reach across the aisle. For example, Lincoln, a Republican, chose a former Democrat, Edwin Stanton, to serve as Secretary of War. Democrat Obama has symmetrically chosen Republicans Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel to fill the same slot, now renamed the Secretary of Defense. Still, Lincoln’s signature executive accomplishments were at risk in a judiciary dominated by appointees of the opposite political party; the same remains true for Obama. Shortly after Lincoln’s death, every single congressional Democrat voted against the Fourteenth Amendment, which codified Lincoln’s dream of birthright equality of all citizens; almost never before had America seen such 100% polarization. In our era, every single congressional Republican likewise opposed Obama’s signature health care plan.

But even on the topics where his proposals were most radical, Lincoln’s opponents’ arguments have not aged well. Shortly before his death, he signed a proposed constitutional amendment providing for an end to American slavery—immediately and with no financial compensation to slaveholders. Nothing like this had ever happened in any American jurisdiction where slavery was widespread. In 1860, less than 1% of America’s black population voted on equal terms. In 1870, all racial disfranchisement was constitutionally forbidden, building on another suggestion made by Lincoln himself in his last public speech, just days before he died.

That level of equality had been a new public stance for Lincoln, a break from his more cautious early views, much as Obama has only recently evolved to a position of open embrace of same-sex marriage. If the Supreme Court later this year constitutionalizes this egalitarian vision, following the lead of the latest lanky lawyer from Illinois to occupy the Oval Office, the decision will likely trigger howls of protest. These howls are likely to be loudest in those regions that hated Lincoln and all that he stood for when he was still standing. But Lincoln’s example should remind us that contemporary controversy does not necessarily mean that the judgment of history will be equivocal. Lincoln’s vision of racial equality has been vindicated by posterity; and the same seems highly likely for Obama’ vision of sexual-orientation equality. As Mark Twain is said to have noted, history never repeats itself—but it sometimes rhymes.

The Long ViewHistorians explain how the past informs the present

Akhil Reed Amar is a professor of law at Yale and author of the newly released book, The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of our Constitutional Republic.

TIME politics

Abraham Lincoln’s Lesson for the 1960s

Lincoln Cover
Cover Credit: ROBERT VICKREY The May 10, 1963, cover of TIME

Was the 16th President the ultimate Organization Man?

In May of 1963, when TIME devoted a six-page, 6,600-word essay to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president — who was shot on April 14, 1865 — had been dead for nearly a century. The Emancipation Proclamation was a century old. The nation he led, TIME noted, would have been unrecognizable to him — the suburbs, the cars, the skyscrapers.

But that didn’t mean Lincoln had nothing to offer the America of the 1960s.

The central concern of the unbylined essay was the rise of the Organization Man, an idea that was at that point about a decade old. So-called after a 1956 book of that name, the Organization Man was — for better or worse — the American businessman devoted to his company and striving only for the comfortable conformity of post-war suburban life. The opposition of the Organization Man was the capital-I Individual, of which Lincoln was held up as a shining example.

Except, the essay explained, that Lincoln was also, in other ways, even as he was devoted to freedom and to change, the ultimate Organization Man. His company was the United States, and he was as loyal to it as any gold-watch-earning executive could be. He also knew that his loyalty would be worthless if he was the only one who felt it.

The lesson of Lincoln, then, was not that Individualism — though one of American culture’s most treasured values — was best. His lesson was that life was not really about the collective versus the individual. Rather, one could not exist without the other:

Abraham Lincoln’s life connects colonial America with modern America; Jefferson died when Lincoln was 17, Woodrow Wilson was eight when Lincoln died. While America was fighting its war, the greater battle of the modern world was already joined.

John Stuart Mill had finished his essay “On Liberty,” in which he expressed the horror with which 19th century liberalism regarded the state, and enunciated the magnificent principle that “if all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion,” mankind would still not be justified in silencing him. Yet at that very time, Karl Marx was writing Das Kapital, striking back at liberal individualism in the name of mankind. For the industrial worker, argued Marx, had been “reduced to a mere fragment of a man, mentally and physically dehumanized,” and only collective action, state action, could redress his wrongs.

Thus began the long Marxist offensive that eventually led to Communism and fascism. Just as the U.S. had succeeded in tempering and transforming the forces that became the French Revolution, it tempered and transformed the Socialist Revolution. America had its age of ruggedly individualistic businessmen, when popularizers turned Darwin’s theory of natural selection into a doctrine of economic predestination, according to which the damnation of the weak was a law of nature. But out of this era grew the sometimes uneasy partnership between business and government that in effect built a capitalist welfare state and an almost universal middle class society.

This is the central fact about the individual today. The life now led by Americans (and to a great extent by Europeans) was made possible only through industrial, and organized, civilization. Hence what is often denounced as regimentation of the individual is the price paid for giving virtually every individual a chance to live a wider, longer, richer life.

Read the full 1963 essay, here in the TIME Vault: Lincoln and Modern America

TIME politics

How Hillary Can Win Black Women Voters

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Washington on March 23, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Washington on March 23, 2015.

Women of color are ready to make noise at the polls

One thing 2008 and 2012 taught us: Black women are the voting bloc to watch. According to the Center for American Progress, “In 2012, Black women voted at a higher rate than any other group—across gender, race, and ethnicity—and, along with other women of color, played a key role in President Obama’s reelection. The following year, turnout by women of color in an off-year helped provide Terry McAuliffe (D) the margin of victory in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election. Notably, in both of their respective elections, President Obama and Gov. McAuliffe lost a lion’s share of White women voters, but overwhelmingly captured the votes of women of color.” It’s true that Black women are becoming much more involved with the political process, flexing their muscles by engaging in the issues and making their voices heard. But are these voters a guarantee for Hillary Clinton?

“I think Black women are ready for Hillary,” Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams tells Essence. “She represents not only the first woman president, but a continuation of policies that have been geared towards lifting women, communities of color, the poor—those demographics that have too often been left behind by Republican policies. I think her candidacy reflects the needs of Black women, in that she is going to talk about the issues that will help better their lives.”

Black women voters present a unique opportunity for Hillary, because, according to CAP, “[a]s their numbers increase and their participation grows, women of color will increasingly have the chance to sway electoral results, influence which candidates run and win, and play a greater role in shaping the policy agenda. Again, this new reality becomes apparent when one considers that women of color are the fastest-growing segment of the country’s largest voting bloc: women.”

Though the historic nature of her candidacy may put Hillary in a position to deliver another transformational moment for America—this time for gender equity—there is much work to be done before she can win over any constituency. First: showing she has a vision for tackling their greatest concerns.

Anti-violence activist and writer Wagatwe Wanjuki says that while a lot of people are excited about the prospect of a female president, she has some reservations. “I am waiting for evidence that she gets how we women of color are affected by issues in ways that are different from our white counterparts,” says Wanjuki. “What are her thoughts on the Hyde Amendment? [The amendment that prohibits public funding for abortions, making the procedure inaccessible for low-income women of color.] As president, how is she going to use her bully pulpit to address the high rates of gender-based violence in our communities? What plans does she have to reduce our unique barriers to achieving quality health care?”

Read the rest of the post at Essence.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME politics

See Photos From a Secret Service Fitness Test in the 1960s

On the 150th anniversary of the agency’s creation, a look at how agents stayed sharp for duty

In what may be one of the biggest coincidences in presidential history, Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, just hours before he was assassinated. But the agency he created wouldn’t have done much to save him had they been around sooner. The original purpose of the United States Secret Service was to tackle the country’s burgeoning counterfeit money problem.

By the time LIFE covered the Secret Service more than a century later, it had taken on a dual mission–protecting the country’s currency and protecting the President, other high-ranking officials and their families from bodily harm.

In 1968, five years after the assassination of President Kennedy, and in the month after Martin Luther King’s death and before Robert Kennedy’s, LIFE dispatched photographer Stan Wayman to shoot the men as they practiced their shooting. In this monthly qualification test, which agents had to pass in addition to biannual physical exams, agents were tested in marksmanship, motorcade etiquette, defensive combat and life-saving techniques.

Agents practiced shooting at the National Arboretum, which was, according to notes accompanying the photographs, “one of the few places in the District isolated enough to shoot guns without passers-by thinking another riot is taking place.” “Another” here refers to the six days of rioting that took place in Washington after King’s death the previous month. But everything that took place on this spring day was just a drill, and the few tourists who did spot the agents “were sadly disappointed to find out the president wasn’t along for the work out.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME social justice

Why Tweeting Can’t Replace a Civil Rights March

March2Justice demonstration calling for criminal justice reform, Staten Island, New York, America - 13 Apr 2015
MediaPunch/REX Shutterstock March2Justice demonstration calling for criminal justice reform, Staten Island, New York, April 13, 2015.

Erica Williams Simon is a cultural critic, speaker and media maker. She is also a deputy editor for Upworthy.com and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.

"March 2 Justice" activists embark on a 250 mile march from New York to Washington, DC. But do old-school demonstrations do any good?

It sounds like a scene from the movie Selma.

100 plus people are marching across a bridge chanting and holding signs that demand justice. They are activists, artists, ministers, young mothers and fathers, children, students, the formerly incarcerated and everyone in between. They are black, white and brown, Christian and Muslim, atheist and agnostic. They have been meeting in the evenings, after full days of work at their respective jobs, in conference rooms and church basements and schools for the past several months. They’ve carefully planned their route, they’ve trained their bodies and thought through their response to any opposition that they might face on their journey, some of which has already come from local officials decrying their march as for no other reason than to “make a scene.”

But this isn’t 1965. It’s 2015. The bridge isn’t the Edmund Pettus but New York City’s Outerbridge Crossing in Staten Island, the borough where Eric Garner was killed on camera by police chokehold just last year. They aren’t wearing hats and suits but instead hoodies and jeans. And they aren’t marching from Selma to Montgomery. They are walking the 250 miles from New York to Washington DC to take a stand for justice and deliver what they are calling a “Justice Package” to Congress: legislative proposals that aim to end racial profiling, demilitarize the police force, and invest in community based alternatives to incarceration for young people.

MORE TIME’s cover story: In the Line of Fire

Led by Justice League NYC, a task force of juvenile and criminal justice advocates, artists and formerly incarcerated people brought together in response to the non-indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, the diverse group of overwhelmingly young marchers began their walk on Monday morning. Over the next week, they will stop in Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and finally Washington DC on Tuesday, April 21st. Their arrival will be marked by a march through the city, a press conference to present their proposals and a stop on the West Lawn of the Capitol at 5pm for a rally and concert.

It all sounds lovely. And inspiring. And…oh so dated.

At least, that was my first thought months ago when hearing about the plans for this “March 2 Justice.”

Why are “we” (those of us who care deeply about civil and human rights) still marching in 2015? What good does it do? With all of the other modern, technological, creative avenues that we have for change, why march?

Sure, there is precedent for Millennial marching that makes a difference. In 2010, four undocumented immigrant students walked 1500 miles from Florida to Washington during the “Trail of Dreams,” to support the passage of the DREAM Act and many credit their trek as a turning point in the fight for and 2012 end to the deportation of young people as outlined in the Act.

But in a 24 hour news cycle where no single story can hold the public’s attention for more than a day, and in a climate that has gotten all too used to seeing peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, no longer finding them particularly disruptive or worthy of special consideration, I still wasn’t convinced that this march, as well intended as it is, would actually serve a purpose.

At least not until last week, when I saw the video footage of Walter Scott being shot in cold blood in North Charleston, South Carolina.

I sat staring at my screen and for the first time in over a decade of activism as a policy advocate and youth organizer, I felt no anger, only numbness. I didn’t read any articles. I didn’t tweet or update my Facebook status or sign a online petition. Instead I did what countless others have done far too many times throughout history and that which our spirit often longs to do in the face of repeated, sustained trauma: I turned away.

I didn’t want to see anymore. I didn’t want to be reminded of how dangerous and unfair our beloved country is for me, my future children and for people who share my skin color. I wanted to do… nothing. I wanted to be still and hope that magically, somehow, things would get better without me having to exert any more emotional energy.

And then it hit me:

This too is why they march. To physically move when even the most passionate among us long to be still and to turn away. To fight inertia. To walk through the pain towards freedom. To remind the nation that while everyone else goes to work, takes care of their families, sleeps and turns away, someone must keep moving. Their march is a reminder that if we commit to continued, sustained, unglamorous forward movement, our activism can truly be a disruptive force for change in American life. But we must walk the walk — long, slow and steady.

To be fair, the leaders of the march have their own strategic reasons that have nothing to do with my symbolic analysis. Their reasons can be found searching the hashtag #whywemarch on Twitter. And the Justice League NYC is doing everything right to make sure that there are tangible, political outcomes. They have clear legislative asks in their Justice Package and have done a tremendous amount of work to garner the support of over 124 organizations, elected officials and media figures. And, of course, they will be registering voters all along the way.

But for me, the value of the march isn’t dependent upon how much media coverage they get, how many voters they register or how well the bills they propose are received on Capitol Hill.

The meaning is the medium. The gap between those victorious civil rights champions who came before us and those who walk today is closed a little with each step — and so is the distance between us and justice. At least, that is what we hope. So for the rest of us, I send them gratitude, wish them safety and promise this: We will all, in our way, keep marching.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Goes Unnoticed at Chipotle

Yes, she'll pay extra for guac

Hillary Clinton has had to make a lot of important decisions recently. Black or pinto beans? What kind of meat would she like? Does she want salsa? Most importantly, is she willing to pay extra for guacamole?

The answer to that last question is apparently yes. Clinton, who launched her presidential bid on Sunday in a long-awaited announcement, visited a Chipotle on Monday during a stop on her 1,000-mile campaign kick-off road trip, the New York Times reports. Charles Wright, manager of the restaurant in the Toledo suburb of Maumee where Clinton stopped, said she ordered a chicken burrito bowl (with the guac), a chicken salad and two drinks.

Clinton, joined by longtime aide Huma Abedin, went mostly unrecognized by Chipotle staff and customers. Wright wasn’t even aware that Clinton stopped by until he checked the security footage after a Times reporter called about a tip. “The thing is, she has these dark sunglasses on,” Wright said. “She just was another lady.”

In a way, that’s just the message Clinton is trying to send with her campaign.


Read next: Hillary Clinton’s Main Obstacle: Her Own Inevitability

TIME World

A Sword-Wielding Polish Prince Just Challenged a U.K. Politician to a Duel

"I’d like us to meet in Hyde Park one morning, with our swords, and resolve this matter"

The son of a celebrated Polish cavalry officer has formally challenged an English parliamentary candidate to a duel.

Polish prince Janek Żyliński challenged UKIP leader Nigel Farage to a 18th-century-style duel in a video posted on Youtube. Janek is the son of Andrzej Żyliński, a Polish officer who led a charge against the Nazis in 1939, according to the Independent.

“I’ve had enough of the discrimination against Polish people in this country,” Żyliński said before brandishing the sword his father used in World War II. “The most idiotic example I’ve heard of has been Mr. Nigel Farage blaming migrants for traffic jams on the M40.”

“What I’d like to do is to challenge you to a duel. I’d like us to meet in Hyde Park one morning, with our swords, and resolve this matter,” he continued.

“It is an impressive sword,” Farage said in response to the video, according to Sky News. “I don’t have one but I’m sure we could find one if we had to. But I’m not intending to accept the offer.”

[The Independent]

TIME politics

How a Hug Jump-Started Marco Rubio’s Career

Marco Rubio
Joe Raedle—Getty Images Marco Rubio speaks about Cuba during a Cuban Independence Day Celebration at the InterContinental Hotel May 23, 2008, in Miami

The Florida Senator was helped along by a politically perilous PDA

Monday promises to be a big day for Marco Rubio: the Florida Senator has said that he’ll announce whether he plans to run in the next election, and for what.

It was only a little more than five years ago that Rubio took the big risk that brought him to the precipice of a potential presidential candidacy. He had spent nearly a decade in the Florida state legislature but, in mid-2009, was not in office. In mid 2009, Florida’s governor Charlie Crist seemed to have the race locked up to become Florida’s next Senator. Then, after Barack Obama won the White House, Crist appeared at an event with the new President and exchanged a hug.

Rubio, as TIME’s David von Drehle recounted in a 2010 cover story about the changing Republican party, saw his chance:

Another Florida Republican had a different idea. His name was Marco Rubio. He was the baby-faced former speaker of the Florida legislature. Well-wired Floridians knew that Rubio was thinking about challenging Crist for a seat in the U.S. Senate, and they also knew that this was quixotic because Crist had at least a 30-point lead in the polls, plus friends and money and endorsements from powerful Republicans around the country.

But Rubio saw an opportunity in that hug. If one possible Republican strategy was to embrace the Democratic spending agenda, surely there was a case to be made for opposing it. Rubio decided to “stand up to this Big Government agenda, not be co-opted by it,” and three months after The Hug, tossed his hat into the ring. The date was May 5, 2009.

Looking back, that was the day the 2010 election truly began–not just the campaign for a Senate seat from Florida but the broad national campaign for control of Congress and the direction of the country. Rubio’s decision to wage a philosophical battle for the soul of the Florida GOP was a catalyst for the surprising and outrageous events that followed. He became a darling of the nascent Tea Party movement and a point man in the movement’s purge of the GOP establishment. Rubio led the way for a dust-kicking herd of dark-horse candidates–some thoroughbreds, some nags. And most of all, Rubio symbolized the fact that this year’s midterms have become a referendum on such fundamental issues as the role of government and the size of the public debt.

Crist eventually dropped out of the Republican field to run as an Independent, but it was too late. Rubio won the Senate seat and was catapulted to the top rung of the Republican Party.

Read the 2010 cover story, here in the TIME archives: Party Crashers

Read next: Republican Candidates Didn’t Just Talk Guns at NRA Event

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TIME White House

Thomas Jefferson Almost Didn’t Run for President

'Thomas Jefferson', 1805. Artist: Rembrandt Peale
Print Collector/Getty Images An 1805 portrait of Thomas Jefferson

He contemplated walking away from the chance

It’s hard to imagine a version of American history in which Thomas Jefferson, born on this day, April 13, in 1743, was never President. And yet, before he became the United States’ third President, he nearly walked away from politics entirely.

As Walter Kirn explained as part of a special 2005 TIME report on Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, the vast trove of letters that Jefferson left behind reveals that he was pretty sure he was done with politics in 1781, a full two decades before his inauguration:

The war he had helped launch and justify raged on, the enemy’s army had swept through his state capital only hours before and his successor as Virginia’s Governor still hadn’t been selected by the legislature, but Thomas Jefferson was going home, convinced that his work for America was done. It was the summer of 1781, five years since the July in Philadelphia when the author of the Declaration of Independence had, in two inspired weeks of writing energized by years of thought and study and practical political activity, helped create a new nation with his pen. The course this nation would follow remained uncertain, the fate of its central ideals undecided and the question of its very survival unclear, but Jefferson’s direction was firm and fixed: away from politics and public life and back to his cherished plantation, Monticello. Back to his loved ones, his gardens, his fields, his library and to the scores of people whose labor made his pursuit of happiness possible: his slaves.

The great revolutionary was calling it quits–or so he told his friends. In one of more than 20,000 letters that scholars estimate Jefferson completed before his death on July 4, 1826, the future Secretary of State, Vice President, two-term President and founder of the University of Virginia confirmed his premature decision to abandon the rigors of government service for the pleasures of rural solitude: “I have taken my final leave of everything of that nature, have retired to my farm, my family and books from which I think nothing will ever more separate me.”

That, of course, turned out not to be true. (“Nearly everything he wrote was contradicted at some point by something he did,” Kirn notes, from that very letter to his stance on slavery.) There’s no easy answer as to why Jefferson changed his mind, but by doing so he continued his strong track record of changing history.

Read TIME’s 2005 special issue about Thomas Jefferson, here in the archives: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Thomas Jefferson

TIME India

Indian Political Party Advocates the Denial of Voting Rights for Muslims

Protest against release of 2008 Mumbai attacks mastermind
EPA Activists of India's right-wing Shiv Sena party shout slogans before they burnt posters of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (C-bottom), alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks during a protest against Zaki-ur-Rehman's release, in New Delhi, on April 11, 2015.

The party hastily back-tracked after the editorial in its official publication caused outrage

A major Indian political party called for the voting rights of Muslims to be revoked in an editorial published Sunday, a statement that was slammed across the board and left its leadership red-faced and hastily backtracking.

The editorial was published in Saamana — the mouthpiece of the right-wing Shiv Sena party — and reiterated a statement from its late founder Balasaheb Thackeray that advocated the withdrawal of Muslim people’s right to vote, the Indian Express reported.

“If Muslims are being used … to play politics, they can never develop,” the editorial reads. “Balasaheb had once said voting rights of Muslims should be withdrawn. What he said is right.”

The statement invoked the condemnation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the opposition Congress party and several others.

“The Indian Constitution has given every citizen, irrespective of his/ her caste, community or religion, the right to vote,” said BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari. “Those who express such views are blatantly violating the Indian Constitution. Strict action should be taken against them for such remarks.”

Senior Congress politician Anand Sharma called the editorial “unacceptable,” adding that “those behind the remarks have no place in a culture like ours.”

Neelam Gorhe, a state legislator from the Shiv Sena, sought to downplay her party’s controversial stand. “What [the Saamana editor] meant was that Muslims are being exploited for vote bank, and this will not lead to their development,” she said. “He is not suggesting that their voting rights should be taken away.”

The rights of India’s minorities have become a major issue since Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP came to power, with several controversial statements over the past year including one by the leader of a Hindu fundamentalist organization just a day before the Shiv Sena editorial, calling for the forced sterilization of Muslims and Christians.

Later on Monday, controversial BJP lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj (who once said all Hindu women should produce four children) echoed the Shiv Sena’s viewpoint by implying that Muslims should indulge in family planning or be “stripped of their voting right”.

Read next: What India Can Teach Us About Islam and Assimilation

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