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.
Of 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.