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Barack Obama & The Muslim Problem

15 Mar
obama-childhood.jpg

Spreading rumor and innuendo about your political opponents has a long and distinguished past. Whether you ran for elected office or were a monarch, rumors have often proved more difficult to defeat than flesh and blood competition. From Julius Caesar to John McCain, they all fell to whisper campaigns just when they were deemed unbeatable. Take a look at McCain:

Eight years ago, the Straight Talk Express was set to cruise into the White House. Until a rumor began circulating: the little girl the McCains had adopted a few years ago, it said, had actually been fathered by McCain himself. Her mother was an African American woman and the McCains had come together to sweep the issue under the carpet for political purpose. For all I know, there are still people out there who believe this story.

Eight years later, Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama has two little African American girls to his credit but they’re above reproach as far as legitimacy goes – he’s married to their African American mother. Stymied on that front, the next logical rumor should have been about his sexuality (see: Hillary Clinton, lesbian witch). Except he has something better to offer – his middle name. Barack Hussein Obama.

Anybody named Hussein must be a terrorist. I mean, you know who else was called Hussein right? Saddam Hussein, America Hater-in-Chief (when he wasn’t hobnobbing with folks like Donald Rumsfeld but that’s only because we all lived in an innocent age where we didn’t know military dictators were bad people). And he always refers to himself as Barack Obama, deliberately leaving out the Hussein, which practically amounts to a cover up!

Other people have pointed out that nobody seems to be bothered that John McCain, the confirmed Republican candidate, has a middle name and numericals after his name which he never uses. What’re you hiding John Sidney McCain III? Wait a minute – Sidney? Aren’t there girls named Sidney? Oh my God! John McCain is transgendered! He’s the GLAAD spy sent in to win the White House so he can make us all have sex with animals coz you know that’s what GLAAD is all about! And you know what else? GLAAD has three alphabets in it that aren’t ‘A’. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

huma-abedin.jpgOf course, all these people who think Obama should use his middle name were the same ones who were so flaming mad that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t drop the “Rodham” in hers. That crazy harlot, thinking she could keep her father’s name once she was married! Too bad her father’s last name wasn’t Fatima. She could have kept it then. But she’s making up for it by having a flaming affair with a Muslim woman: Indian father + Pakistani mother + Saudi Arabian stay = Terrorist Infiltration!

The Obama rumors have been making the rounds for so long now that Jon Stewart even made fun of them at the Oscars. Here’s a sample of the kind of illiterate rubbish your spam blockers have been saving you from:

Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking Major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.
[…]
The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level – through the President of the United States, one of their own!!! ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office – he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Kuran (Their equevelancy to our Bible, but very different beliefs)

It doesn’t matter that each of those claims have been proven untrue. It’s like that story about Tommy Hilfiger making a racist comment on Oprah and then getting kicked off her show – even though he went on her show and the two of them said it wasn’t true, there’re conspiracy theorists out there who still believe there’s something to it.

On the other hand you have people like Daniel Pipes who take a more reasonable (sounding at least) approach and argue:

“I’ve always been a Christian,” said Obama, focusing on his own personal lack of practice of Islam as a child to deny any connection to Islam. But Muslims do not see practice as key. For them, that he was born to a line of Muslim males makes him born a Muslim. Further, all children born with an Arabic name based on the H-S-N trilateral root (Hussein, Hassan, and others) can be assumed to be Muslim, so they will understand Obama’s full name, Barack Hussein Obama, to proclaim him a born Muslim.

This is an interesting line of thought because now the focus isn’t about who a person is at this present point in time but their family background and where they came from – things that, according to popular myth, aren’t supposed to matter in the America, a land where the sky is the limit.

At the present time, Obama is a practicing Christian who lives an unremarkable family life complete with two children and a lawyer wife. But back in the day, his biological father came from a Muslim neighborhood in Kenya and he spent time in the household of his Muslim stepfather and that takes precedence. It’s like there’s an invisible scale from one to ten and we’re all studying the level of his Muslim-ness to judge whether its acceptable or not.

Who has the power to determine the religion to which you belong? And is such a belonging more a matter of perception than actual faith as Pipes suggests? If you’re an atheist, for example, and disavow any form of God or religion but were brought up in a household that largely eschewed religion but celebrated Christmas, perhaps even went carol singing in your childhood – does this mean other people can then classify you as a Christian irrespective of what you feel or think? Then what is the point of having a free will and making a choice?

Some people ask: so what? So what if Obama was raised by a Muslim or born of a Muslim or, indeed, brought up a Muslim? Millions of ordinary Americans are in the same boat, after all. And I think that’s a disingenuous question to ask.

The very fact that this is a big enough deal for the Obama campaign to have to counter and explicitly address, should tell you “so what”. Islam in America has predominantly had two faces and both of them are deeply threatening – one is the Nation of Islam and the second is the Arab Muslim.

If the post-9/11 Arab Muslim has introduced words like Shia and Sunni and Wahabbi into the American lexicon and only ever makes an appearance when the words “war” and “terrorism” are invoked, then the Nation of Islam doesn’t enjoy a much better reputation. At least Arabs had the doubtful honor of being romanticized for a long period (if you can make it past the racism and sexism, then Rudolph Valentino’s The Sheik and The Son of the Sheik are two points in pop culture that you don’t want to miss); Nation of Islam has pretty much courted the dregs of public opinion since its inception, however many people choose to quote Malcolm X.

And Barack Hussein Obama gets to inherit all of it from both sides: if they’re talking Wahabbi schools on the one hand, then they’re also getting upset about Louis Farrakhan’s endorsement of Obama. Of course, these two facets of Islam are poles apart and NoI’s ideas about Islam are likely to give every good Wahabbi a heart attack, but when did facts ever get in the way of a good story?

In the event that Barack Obama wins the Democratic candidacy, as I believe he will, it is in nobody’s interest that we all pretend that this year’s elections are business as usual. There are hot button issues that will come up again and again this year about race, religion, gender, rights, patriotism, and what it means to be American.

McCain is a man I respect and I believe him when he says he wants to run a clean campaign but I’m sure he’s aware like none other that it is not always in the candidate’s hands to keep the smears off the table. In such a scenario, wouldn’t it be better to start addressing these topics straight on rather than pretending that nothing’s out of the ordinary and then dealing with the shit when it hits the fan?

What are we all afraid of anyway? This week Geraldine Ferraro, a Clinton advisor, and Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor and advisor, were both canned for talking about gender and race as they affect this campaign. I can’t help but hope that they wind up on a show like Bill Maher’s and get a chance to talk it out face to face. It would be so much more interesting and informative than reading the candidates’ earmark lists.

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11 Comments

Posted by on March 15, 2008 in Newsmakers, Politics

 

11 responses to “Barack Obama & The Muslim Problem

  1. Paul V

    March 15, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I Voted For Hilary Clinton
    But camparing Jeremiah Wright to John McCain Minister ,,You
    Can not compare,,, John McCain,, the minister he know just gave him Money,,he does not Go to his church,,, He did not Baptise john McCain kids,,, he is not on John McCain Campaign,, Just gave John McCain money,,, to compare him with Jeremiah Wright is something the Media, and the Obama Camapaign,, doing,,Barack Obama Has a Racist man who worked on his Campaign,, Jeremiah Wright, ,, who helped Barack with the title of his book,,, who baptise his kids, Barack Obama Miinister, gave Louis Farrahkan life time achievement award, ,,, Barack Obama who went to this Racist mans church,,, for 20 years,

    Whats even sad is Barack Obama, followers don’t even Care, He can run over a person right now ,,, and people will still follow him,,, but one thing is for certain Barack no matter what, just lost this election,,, even if he wins the primary,,, from Hilary,,, Barack can not win a big state, Hilary followers will not back Barack Obama,,, just like if Hilary wins the primary,,, Barack Obama followers will not back Hilary ,,,,,
    Obama is definitely Muslim, but he is a closet Racist, who employed a racist,, of all Racist, ,,,,, he is done
    Watch Obama weblink

     
  2. Saagar

    March 15, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Bound in the thoughts of race, religion and sex, what is lost in creating the whole picture of a person is never addressed. And when the ground reality strikes after a choice is made, there won’t be any going back in time. But then, if everyone thought two moves ahead then why will we have one chess champion in the world !!

     
  3. ana

    March 16, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Paul, what you have written is just whack. How do you connect Obama to John McCain’s kids or his minister? I don’t know if you have even tried to connect the dots here. The comparison if any Amrita is making here is not even about what you are talking about.

    No one knows as of now who has won or lost the election, or the democratic candidacy. So you voted for Hillary Clinton! Congratulations! The Obama campaign may have serious issues it needs to address, but calling him a closet racist is quite frankly, laughable. . . .

     
  4. Amrita

    March 17, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Paul – like Ana says, you and I are talking at cross purposes. And McCain has plenty of legitimate skeletons in his closet. They’ll come out willy nilly never you fear.

    Saagar – you’d think they’d have learned that lesson already, wouldn’t you? But no. Oh well, at least this crop is a good one, left or right.

    Ana – still planning on sitting out or going for the third party? 🙂

     
  5. ana

    March 17, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Amrita, I am not sitting out. 🙂 Which also answers your question about the third party!

     
  6. Nida

    June 8, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Amrita,

    Thank you so much for posting about this. Last summer, my grandparents (rigid Wisconsin senate Lutherans, basically they think they are the only denomination in the Christian religion who is following the correct teachings of the Bible–it drives me crazy!) were in a tizzy because they had a former Muslim speaker attend their church who apparently said that every Muslim is out to kill a Christian. Not only did I find this offensive (My stepmother on opposite side of the family is Muslim), but I was appalled at their ignorance. My grandfather even had the balls to ask me if my dad was Muslim(My biological father, whom they’ve never even met, is Pakistani) with a suspicious tone to his voice. I’ve always felt loved by them, yet from afar because there is half of me they just don’t understand –or perhaps even like. Sorry, didn’t mean to throw a pity party, I’m proud of who I am, but that’s really the way that it is with them.

    Said speaker also told their congregation to “watch out” for Barack Obama, because he is tied to Al-Queida and possibly the future Antichrist prophosized about in the biblical book of Revelations.

    What rubbish! I told them that Barack Obama is an employee of the Federal Government, which basically means background checks up the wazoo. Did they honestly think the Feds would let an enemy slip on through and join them for coffee every morning? Come on!

    I argue my point with them, they get defensive. I just can’t have a political discussion with them, yet it happens every time they visit because I just can’t keep my mouth shut. And they are coming this week, too…I can just imagine what will happen this time seeing as Obama was just elected as the Democratic party for the major election. They’ll have something to say about it, no doubt, and I’ll have no choice but to share with them who I plan to vote for this November.

    And I’ll probably be stoned to death.

     
  7. Amrita

    June 16, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Nida – wow, that sounds rough.
    This election cycle is interesting in that it is both the most exciting and promising this to have happened in a long time while simultaneously exposing an underbelly that we often gloss over.
    If it makes you feel any better, we’re slowly but surely moving ahead to a time where YOU get to be the mainstream. Some people have to be taken along kicking and screaming but it’s not like they can refuse. Look at your grandparents – whatever their feelings and suspicions, the fact is you and they share the same blood and you are part of the same family. Their history will pass down through you.
    Hopefully, some day they’ll get that.
    Joe Klein said something that really struck home with me in his tribute to Tim Russert :

    The last time I saw Tim on television was the night that Barack Obama secured the nomination — and he was, appropriately, telling a Big Russ story, about his dad nailing a John F. Kennedy sign on the side of the house in 1960. Tim asked, “‘Why are we for Kennedy?’ And my dad said, ‘Because he’s one of us.’ And that’s the big question Barack Obama is facing,” he concluded, “Will Americans accept him as ‘One of us.'” I remember thinking, “Ahh, Tim. We’re getting old. Maybe Big Russ and my parents — and you and I — wonder if someone named Barack Obama is ‘one of us,’ but not our kids.”

     
  8. Pitu

    June 19, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Fab post, Amrita. Well done. Go Obama 🙂

     
  9. Jerry O'Donnell

    September 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Obama very well may become the first black president of the United States this November, which would be histroy making indeed.
    But I believe we have a million more years to go before a Muslim is elected as the President of the United States, since the majority of people in this country believe that all Muslims are terrorists, when in fact, 99.99999999999999999999999999 percent of Muslims are lawful God-abiding ordinary people.
    It’s too bad and sad that people feel this way about Muslims, and at times, I’m saddened at how Obama totally tries to distance himself from the Muslim religion (but my second paragraph addresses why he does, because people wouldn’t vote for him then out of fear).
    We have a long way to go in this country.

     
  10. yherlanti

    November 5, 2008 at 10:35 am

    why people in US afraid of Islam? and afraid to be muslims? if U understand about islam, you will find islam is beatifull religion….only islam can save this world…and who is the real terorist? I always think the real terorist is BUSH sr, and BUSH jr. See…! when they became president…war and war was happen in muslim’s country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     
 
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