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The Occulted Candidate

| 87 Comments

I haven’t posted in quite awhile. I’ve been working on a sociocultural theory about Islam, and finally ran into a brick wall behind which lies the data I need to prove and refine the theory. I can’t get at it, because I don’t have the proper bona fides. I don’t mean the right degrees, but the “correct” bias. I might lead people away from the multicultural light.

So I haven’t been paying all that much attention to the electoral contest. This, even though I did my dissertation on elections. And then this irritating fellow on a forum I visit started posting links to right wing websites with outrageous claims that Barack Obama was some sort of occulted Muslim. Now that’s a romantic notion, but the claims weren’t very specific so they often couldn’t be vetted, and I just figured it to be a smear. Besides, Americans wouldn’t care if he were nominally designated a Muslim while he was forming elephants out of play doh anyway. To us, you aren’t anything until you’ve made a conscientious considered uncoerced choice. So I figured this would blow over quickly, and the real issue would be that he sat in First Trinity's pews for twenty years, apparently stone deaf.

But, I might have been a little hasty. Rick Moran has a pretty good article on the topic, up at PJ Media: The Smear That Just Won’t Die. He debunks most of the myths. Here’s an excerpt:

There is a very soft, very sensitive spot on the underbelly of the Obama campaign. They fear its exposure perhaps more than any other vulnerability in the organization. It’s not some dark, buried scandal involving sex or money. It’s not a skeleton in either Barack or Michelle Obama’s family closet. In fact, it isn’t “real” in any logical sense at all.

It is a rumor — or, more prosaically, a smear. And touching on it brings out the teeth and claws of the Obama campaign beyond almost any other issue.

Barack Hussein Obama is not a Muslim. But the smear saying he is refuses to die and, if anything, is growing as the campaign becomes more intense. Aside from the obvious desire to beat down a false rumor, there are eminently practical political reasons why even mentioning the smear is avoided at all costs.

At the time, the three main claims seemed to be that he’d “inherited” his Muslim status from his father. That was debunked by noting that his father was actually an atheist, and that he’d abandoned Obama. Even if the elder had been Muslim it wouldn’t have passed to the son once he’d been abandoned. The mother’s faith would. Secondly, Rick points out that Obama didn’t attend a Muslim school, or madrassa. He attended a Catholic school at one point, and a private nonsectarian school at another. Finally, a statement apparently made by his brother referring to Obama’s “Muslim past” was a misquote.

The only thing that bothered me, was a statement that Obama had apparently made in Dreams of My Father : “In Indonesia, I had spent two years at a Muslim school...In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Quranic studies.”

And according to another source, he apparently had been enrolled in some school in Jakarta as a Muslim, although it was a public school not a madrassa. Moreover, records identifying him as a Muslim could easily have been mistaken. I’ve perused a lot of school record files as an education researcher, and they’re often in pretty bad condition. Not very reliable.

According to a friend of mine more familiar with the way Catholic schools work, they accept people of other religions, but if you want religious instruction, in, say, Islam, they will allow you to arrange for, and pay for it yourself. They won’t provide it. So if he studied Islam while in Catholic or private nonsectarian school someone in the family made the arrangements and paid the bills. And I suppose a kid might have seen this as a “Muslim school.” Kids that age are often rather imprecise with such observations.

But the point here is that there does seem to be some link to having been a Muslim, and/or having attended Koranic Studies, even if it was a mistake of some sort. The “smears” are based on some things that actually happened, and on words Obama actually said.

And that’s the rub.

Again, I don’t think Americans care whether he thought he was Muslim at that age or not. I don’t think we care who thought he was a Muslim, or didn’t think so. The point is that Obama is hunkered down, and won’t come out to directly address and explain this stuff. He appears to be scared to death of the mere mention of it.

He also made a statement in another book, Audacity of Hope, that’s a little edgy: "I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." But again, that could simply mean that he won’t stand for persecution of Muslims, or internment as we did the Japanese.

So neither of these revelations, even if completely true, are deal breakers. Indeed, I suspect that about 40% of Americans are ready to vote for Obama even if he were filmed by ABC News bludgeoning puppies to death with a sledge hammer, while laughing hysterically. But what is, and will, hurt him is ducking and refusing to directly address the issue in a transparent way. The facts haven’t been invented. They just haven’t been explained. Not doing so forthrightly reinforces the awareness that he’s hiding, that he’s wearing a mask, and that he doesn’t give any peeks until all else has been lost. And he just doesn’t have that luxury. He doesn’t have the luxury of allowing a smear campaign to define him, not as a Muslim, but as a man who's something other than what we see. As a man who is hiding his true face. That's becoming a narrative.

So I don’t expect that his candidacy will take a nose dive. It’ll just gradually lose altitude, and he’ll end up landing on that solid 40% plateau, or perhaps a little higher. And people will only gradually be emboldened to speak about the issue, ultimately encouraged by his own words. These aren’t things people have said about Obama. They’re things Obama has said about himself. He can still get out from under, and reclaim the magic. But he doesn’t have much time. And there will be a point of no return, when he’s just irrevocably lost a lot of people who won’t come back. Ever.

By the way, I was once a Hindu, sort of. Well now you know.

87 Comments

His own pastor and mentor shot his best defense completely out of the water. "I've been a solid non-radical, non-Muslim, and I can prove it - just look at my church/pastor/congregation/ etc."

Instead, his easiest 'defense' leads in directions that just exacerbate the situation.

Demosophist

Thanks for the well thought-out and well-presented post on the issue of Barack Obama's religion.

I am also confused about Obama's reluctance to clear up the issue. In addition, he made the statement (more than once) that Rev. Wright "brought him to God," suggesting that he was either a Muslim, atheist or something else before meeting Wright and joining Trinity church. Besides Obama and his wife, does anyone know for sure?

Also, why is that we can refer to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Richard Milhouse Nixon, George Herbert Walker Bush and other presidents, politicians and celebrities using their full names, but using Barack Hussein Obama's full name is a slur/smear?

His ducking the religious issue and being ridiculously sensitive about use of his full name add fuel to the fire on speculation about his religious background and the truthfulness of his statements on the subject. The contradictions and unclear passages you cite are further examples of this lack or clarity on the issue.

In fact, is there any truth to the statement that he became a Christian at age 30 at the urging of his wife (apparently, when he started contemplating/focusing on his political career)? Just wondering.

Mike

Obama's only religious experience has been in Wright's so-called church, where they sing the praises of Louis Farrakhan and the "Prophet" Elijah Muhammed. Though it seems Wright has little to say about Martin Luther King, or about Farrakhan's dead enemy, the apostate Malcolm X.

This qualifies Obama to be nothing more than confused, and it shows. It is a safe bet that his church experience has taught him a lot more about the political grievances of the Nation of Islam than it has about the Christian Gospel. Had the two been given even equal time, the contradictions would have been obvious from Day One, and Day One was 20 damn years ago.

My take on Obama - and given the state of the evidence I am entitled to have a "take", rather than taking his campaign's word for it - is that he is no more a Muslim than he is a Christian. He is an unspiritual person who has mastered the spiritual posture. He has not mastered Christian rhetoric - he stumbles when supporters try to elicit it from him - so he is not as masterful as an Elmer Gantry. But he has the image and the attitude down pat, and he only has to meet expectations that are abysmally low. And if anyone probes it too deeply, he can play the victim card.

Demosophist, the link in your post, “The Smear That Just Won’t Die”, doesn't exist. Like those ridiculous stories about American troops entering Baghdad, it is a false rumor.

Demosophist:

The Internets' undisputed master of polite character assassination.

His own pastor and mentor shot his best defense completely out of the water. "I've been a solid non-radical, non-Muslim, and I can prove it - just look at my church/pastor/congregation/ etc."

I’m not sure how much it helps Obama to say that instead of attending a mosque where they chanted “Death to America!,” he spent twenty years attending a Black Liberation Theology “church” where his spiritual mentor chanted “g*****n America!”

People in America who don’t like Muslims generally do not because they (unfairly for the most part IMO) associate that faith with an intensely anti-American ideology. The problem for Obama is that his BLT “church” isn’t much better and they’re dumb enough to make the expressions of their hatred available on DVD.

I think the link is fixed now. Must've made a mistake in the html. Here's another site that seems to have some information, from the St. Petersburg Times: "Obama Attended an Indonesian Public School". The main point of the article seems to be that he wasn't in a Wahabist madrassa. But that doesn't really put things to rest. I agree with the Glen. I don't think Obama is anything, least of all a Muslim. But I also think his obfuscations, which are related to that fact, will hurt him politically. He said what he said. If he's too spiritually confused to clear that up, we're entitled to look at him askance (and I don't mean in the Hindu way, where that would signify honor and respect).

The thing that makes it unlikely is that Suharto wasn'tparticularly Islamist in the early years; although according to a post by Dan Darling at Belgravia there was more support for the movement that would Gemaa Islamiyah. I don't recall that the Hambali variants (of Deobandi or Wahhabi) or Salafi
schools had much influence in the early days of Kenya's political development; Barak's father seemed to have a more strictly nationalist, socialist orientation
from his work in the early post colonial regime. although they do now. Auchi, REzko's Baathist benefactor and likely partner in theChamchamal power plant seems a secular sort; although we can't discount the possibility that he financed suicide bombers in the early days of the "Resistance" Every where one turn, Barry Dunham has adopted 'unorthodox' models of political and social development.
Which is the real issue.

Interestingly, I saw an article today that some Muslim groups are upset that Obama's "Stopthesmears" page lists accusations of being a Muslim as a "smear." How could belonging to the Religion of Peace™ be a negative thing? He sould be PROUD of it.

I think its clear that Obama studied and practiced Islam while in Indonesia and this was the result of Indonesia's peculiar brand of religious freedom, his step-father's faith, and his mother's open-minded spirituality. The issue doesn't go away because (a) its in his book that was directed towards a more multi-cultural friendly crowd and (b) he only denies the more outrageous claims (I didn't attend a madrassa) and thus comes across as lacking candor.

I should also say there is no religious test for political office; there is a character test.

Here is a pretty good backgrounder from Daniel Pipes: Barack Obama's Muslim Childhood

I think Pipes might be overlooking age of reason issues. Obama was ten years old when he left Indonisia, so I don't think he was old enough to "leave the faith." Instead, the fact that Obama was not Muslim when he was of age shows a failure of training on the part of his parents and the state.

From #12 from PD Shaw at 3:39 pm on Jun 20, 2008

I should also say there is no religious test for political office; there is a character test.

That says more than you may understand or maybe not. Here is Obama's character:

He belonged to a church for 20 years. He became friends with the pastor and that pastor mentored him through South Chicago politics. When it became politically inconvenient for his run at POTUS he dumps his church of 20 years without a blink.

I would have had more respect (which ain't much, BTW) if he had held his position rather than dump that 20 year relationship when it became politically inconvenient. What is he going to do when things get tough in the POTUS chair? Who can he abandon/betray then?

Obama seems to be a Chimera. Whatever makes the most hay for him is what he will be. And that does not bode well for the US.

PD:

I should also say there is no religious test for political office; there is a character test.

Well, that sounds good. Realistically, I think Americans are probably more likely to vote for a scoundrel than an upstanding Muslim. But that's chiefly because "scoundrel" is a more difficult category to define.

#3 from Glen Wishard at 1:45 pm on Jun 20, 2008

He is an unspiritual person who has mastered the spiritual posture. He has not mastered Christian rhetoric - he stumbles when supporters try to elicit it from him - so he is not as masterful as an Elmer Gantry. But he has the image and the attitude down pat, and he only has to meet expectations that are abysmally low

Tell me, how does this description not fit most politicians. Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, (Carter, an exception) Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and, most probably Bush 2. It is a matter of political doctrine that you cannot get elected to high office unless you pay lip service to their faith.

After all, these guys are politicians. What they do for a living is get elected. Do you really take seriously their professions of deep religious faith? You cannot be that naive.

One other thing, we believe as Americans, in a separation of Church and State and from what we have enshrined in the Constitution, the founding fathers believed in that too. A person's faith, or lack therof is his or her own business. And if we true enough to our professed political beliefs we, as a people, would not let it enter into our political debate.

In Australia, where I lived for 3 years, the very mention of religion in the political realm is met with universal derision.

For all the rhetoric about how the "Muslim" issue has hurt Obama, it seems to me he has been able to to benefit by it by casting it as a smear campaign. The continued focus on this "issue" which is unsaleable to the American public is a complete waste of time and energy.

Is Obama's being in a Muslim school in Indonesia any more an issue in the minds of the American public, then the fact that we all smoked pot in College or that GWB couldn't hold his liquor when he was younger.

Most people have heard this stuff already and have let the Muslim and Wright episodes pass. As issues, they are both losers. They will not fly.

Somehow, in my mind, every time they are brought up, I picture Obama as Br'er Rabbit pleading "Don't throw me into that briar patch

One of the few blessings of having such a long campaign season is that the longer the campaign, the more people learn about the candidates. Particularly as so many people don’t bother tuning in until the very end, in which case what may seem like “old news” (e.g. Jeremiah Wright, Avery, etc.) may be fresh news to people who don’t tune in until the end.

The problem for Obama (one of them anyway) is he has no real record or experience to define him – only a carefully crafted image which seems lacking in any substance to sustain it. He’s running against a guy who is widely regarded positively amongst independents and moderates precisely because he has a track record of working across party line on substantive issues. Like Senator Clinton said “John McCain brings a lifetime of public service . . . Barack Obama brings a speech he gave in 2002.”

While many of us are probably sick to death of rehashing Obama’s 20-year close association with terrorists and race-baiters, I suspect that for many voters who haven’t tuned in and will be learning of it for the first time when they start to pay attention at the end, it will be a much bigger issue. Unfortunately for Obama, unlike McCain, he doesn’t appear to have any substance or a track record of accomplishments and experience to counteract it and it could very well be that which ends up defining him in the minds of those undecided voters that determine elections.

Obama seems to be a Chimera.

A Chimera? I thought he was a radically unspiritual, Quranonegromarxist vampire.

"Scream Barackula Scream!!!"

For all the rhetoric about how the "Muslim" issue has hurt Obama, it seems to me he has been able to to benefit by it by casting it as a smear campaign. The continued focus on this "issue" which is unsaleable to the American public is a complete waste of time and energy.

I agree that Americans would pass this off were it squarely addressed. But you aren't an adequate Obama surrogate, if you don't mind my saying. It hasn't hurt him yet. If it does, the harm will be largely self-inflicted. The more he runs from it, the worse it'll get. And I think he'll run. Perhaps I'm wrong.

In fact, TOC, you may be making his problem worse by convincing those with an interest that it's unnecessary for him to directly confront it. He can just rely on surrogates to see him through.

No, he can't.

Demosophist,

I really do not think that this has legs, for a number of reasons

1. People are more interested in the economy, their fear of an acute rise in unemployment, the price of a gallon of gas and a hell of a lot of other things before they have time to give a thought to Obama's religious beliefs or Manchurian Candidate Status.

2. The Rovian tactic of Guilt by Association and the playing to vague fears that people might have has run its course as far as its usefulness is concerned. Obama has gone so far as to turn it into a plus for him. It falls under the Politics of Division category, yet people keep on insisting that there is something that Obama is hiding. Well, that may be true, but I doubt that it is going to get the GOP vote and it will probably chase away independents.

3. These issues, failing some new and lurid revelation, appear to me to be not much more than academic exercises. And, if the are harped on by 527s, without hard and new evidence, they will put Republicans in the Wingnut category.

4. As far as the issue being squarely addressed, my question is, by whom? Obama? The Press? Don't hold your breath.

5. I doubt that my influence is great enough in this affair to influence anyone. I just think that this "issue" is a distraction. It gives me very little satisfaction to expend a lot of energy in what will at best be considered victory in a skirmish, while losing the war. I am not the type to want to play Pyrrhus.

There are also plenty of people that will follow up on it, as you have. I just feel it will yield very little in the way of results

TOC:

3. These issues, failing some new and lurid revelation, appear to me to be not much more than academic exercises. And, if the are harped on by 527s, without hard and new evidence...

They don't require any new evidence. Obama's own words will do, in the absence of an explanation from the canditate.

4. As far as the issue being squarely addressed, my question is, by whom? Obama?

I want to be clear that I don't expect Obama to address this. He'll just presume he can ignore it. That's, simply put, a miscalculation... but one to which he is prone.

5. I doubt that my influence is great enough in this affair to influence anyone.

But Obamatons have a virtual army at their disposal. They'll just presume that these folks can bridge any gaps in credibility. It'll suck him in. Which is, ironically, a valid testimony to his character. Moreover, I think it an accurate testimony to his character.

But perhaps my intuition about this is completely off target. Hard to tell.

There are also plenty of people that will follow up on it, as you have. I just feel it will yield very little in the way of results...

I hope I'm not offending you by suggesting that we're engaged in the election of a President of "The Great Republic," and issues of allegiance are, well... somewhat relevant. At minimum he'll have to take an oath. How credible is such an oath? Is it really just a potboiler? Are you sure?

As for follow up, you have no idea...

At minimum he'll have to take an oath. How credible is such an oath? Is it really just a potboiler? Are you sure?

Wait, you mean that when he says, "I pledge to turn Washington DC into a Mecca of Negritude, and bow five times a day toward Lenin's Tomb," he might just be pulling our leg? Shoot. That is kind of a worry isn't it?

This sure sounds to me like amateurs hoping to launch a "Swiftboating" campaign.

And you're saying, wait until the professionals, like Karl Rove and Richard Mellon Scaife, get into it. I've already seen what those guys have done to my beloved country, and I don't like it.

Obama is addressing the combination of these issues by doing things like wearing flag pins and running tv commercials promoting his Kansas-family values, or as Matt Yglesias described the ads: Hey look: My Mom's White! And I'm From America! And who mentions G*d more in his campaign speeches, Obama or McCain?

A bunch of Americans:

Godspeed You Black Emperor!

A larger point, one that most of you [elided] have avoided, is that many people in our so-called "free" nation have decided that there is a religious test for public office- one must not be a Muslim.

[You're new here, aren't you? You're welcome to stick around, but cut out the namecalling. --NM]

Hysteria: He can still get out from under, and reclaim the magic. But he doesn’t have much time. And there will be a point of no return, when he’s just irrevocably lost a lot of people who won’t come back. Ever.

Hysterical.

Really, I'm not familiar with your body of work, but are you ever right?

Everyone on the right thinks that Americans just haven't heard about Obama's religion yet and once they do BAM, you'll have him. But they do. And, outside of the hysterics on this side of the blogosphere, they just don't care.

Interesting poll atheist linked to: It shows Obama is the weakest and McCain is the strongest on the issue of the Iraq War and also that support for keeping troops in Iraq as long is it takes is growing and the "get out now" totals are shrinking.

Redleg: Drive-bys are frowned on, particularly ones that give insults primacy. Stick around and reason, fine. Otherwise, take a hike.

It shows Obama is the weakest and McCain is the strongest on the issue of the Iraq War

From the article: "Voters do not lean as strongly to Obama on the issue of the Iraq War, but he is still preferred over McCain by 46 percent to 40 percent."

I'd say you were right if McCain's only advantage over Obama wasn't "national security". Down by 6 in the one area where you are supposed to be the commanding, visionary leader is, how do the kids say it, "epic FAIL." These aren't just bad numbers for McCain, they are terrible.

I don't see the "and also that support for keeping troops in Iraq as long is it takes is growing and the "get out now" totals are shrinking" numbers in the article or methodology. Maybe you could just list them, it's entirely possible I'm not able to find them.

Wait -- I found it. Question 7. On the subject of Iraq... For how long would you personally support keeping large numbers of U.S. military
personnel in Iraq ... (READ)4

The numbers make this: and also that support for keeping troops in Iraq as long is it takes is growing and the "get out now" totals are shrinking a terrible reading/interpretation of it. I trust that you're being honest, so I'd like to know how you make this claim.

The current numbers: 45% say bring 'em home now/less than a year. 20% in 1 to 2 years. 4% in 3 to 5. While 26% say "as long as it takes to achieve US goals in Iraq (hey, maybe someone can define those for me).

Let's look at the previous results from 8-10-11/06 (the previous Newsweek poll they commissioned)

38% percent said "bring them home now/less than a year, 18% said 1 to 2 years while 30% said "as long as it takes".

That is the opposite of shrinking. In fact, a higher percentage want them home now than they did two years ago.

Is this a new math that you know? Or were you simply mistaken?

TOC:
It is a matter of political doctrine that you cannot get elected to high office unless you pay lip service to their faith ... Do you really take seriously their professions of deep religious faith? You cannot be that naive.

I thought I was clear that I didn't take his professions seriously. This is a guy who wrote an article in TIME called "My Spiritual Journey" - most politicians don't write articles entitled "My Spiritual Journey", at least not in TIME magazine. You take it how you want to, I didn't even bother to read it.

However, I take the unprecedented quasi-religious nature of his campaign very seriously, and so should you. I don't know if you've seen many Obama speeches, but there is a point where his arms go akimbo, and he begins a kind of invocation.

Granted, most of the creepiness comes from Obama followers, not Obama himself. There is an ad where they weirdly chant his name, which will someday be carefully studied by clinical psychologists. But whatever is going on is not mere lip service, nor is it the same thing every other politician does.

Jab B (#33): You are correct – I blame the weird adobe setup that I can't read the whole screen at once. The trend has not been favorable from my point of view between 2006 and last month.

Sorry for the name typo, Jay B.

I am not a particular supporter of Obama, as I think my comments here have shown in the recent past, but here's how it is:

At a first order, almost naive level of thinking, the "Obama is a Muslim!" thing is a smear only among the sub-section of the public that is prejudiced against Muslims. Which in this context isn't much of a smear because I believe it's a relatively small fraction of voters that he wasn't going to get, anyway.

So it's not worth denying.

At a second order level of thought, though, how would you go about denying it, and what would happen when you do? It's rather like, in polite society, being a heterosexual improperly called out as being homosexual:

"I'm not gay."
"Sure you are. Harry said you were."
"No, seriously, I'm not gay. How would Harry know, anyway?"
"I dunno. He said Sally called you that ten years ago and never heard you deny it. Everyone knows you're gay."
"That's stupid, and stop calling me gay, because seriously, I'm not gay!"

Now all of a sudden, people are wondering why you're making such a damn fuss about it, more people have heard about it and thought about it than you would prefer, because you would prefer them to be thinking about substantive issues (like where to head for dinner on Friday night) and because-- this is polite society, after all-- you're eventually going to be called on to explain what's wrong with being gay and why you're so adamant about it in the first place.

In this case, he cannot even acknowledge it as a smear campaign, because in doing so he'll smear himself by needing to fend off critics from the left and right (with distinctly different agendas) asking to explain in detail why being called a Muslim is such a smear. Which is why it's a smear in the first place.

It's brutally unfair, and anyone seriously calling for him to kiss that tar-baby just to prove he's clean is engaged in an act of singularly underhanded political commentary.

Which in this context isn't much of a smear because I believe it's a relatively small fraction of voters that he wasn't going to get, anyway.

The sub-section of the US public who are prejudiced against Muslims is not small, it's huge. And it's growing. If the US is soon at war with Iran, as appears more and more likely every day, that sub-section will explode. The "Obama is a Muslim" thing is every bit the intentional smear that it appears to be.

It's brutally unfair, and anyone seriously calling for him to kiss that tar-baby just to prove he's clean is engaged in an act of singularly underhanded political commentary.

It is unfair. It's a form a character assassination. Why else would people keep bringing it up?

Marcus #37:

At a first order, almost naive level of thinking, the "Obama is a Muslim!" thing is a smear only among the sub-section of the public that is prejudiced against Muslims. Which in this context isn't much of a smear because I believe it's a relatively small fraction of voters that he wasn't going to get, anyway.

A question about Muslims from the World Values Survey involves asking the respondent whether he/she would include Muslims among those they'd choose not to have as neighbors. That hovered around 12-15% prior to 2001. The Pew poll in 2005 asked whether people had a favorable, unfavorable, or neutral opinion of Muslims. Unfavorability was around 23%.

However, none of those issues is the analog of asking people whether they'd elect a Muslim as President. To infer from those surveys that it's a non-issue with those who don't hold unfavorable opinions of Muslims just doesn't cut it.

But as we've been pointing out, the issue isn't that he's a Muslim, because no one here thinks he is. The issue is that he's hiding behind a mask, and running from the implications of his own words fits into that narrative. How many times do I need to say this?

atheist #38:

The sub-section of the US public who are prejudiced against Muslims is not small, it's huge. And it's growing.

Actually it's small compared to nearly every other western nation. The only country with a smaller percentage in 2000 was Canada. As of the 2005 Pew poll only Britain was smaller. Canada, Poland, France, Russia, Spain, India, Germany, China, and the Netherlands all have larger percentages of Muslim disapproval than the US, in that order.

Actually, your assumption is a form of character assassination of the country. And it's wrong, I might add.

Atheist, #38:

The sub-section of the US public who are prejudiced against Muslims is not small, it's huge. And it's growing.

I was trying to be polite, and think the best of most of my countrymen.

Demosophist, #39:

How many times do I need to say this?

You may say it as often as you like. Do not make the insulting mistake of believing that I do not understand your point.

Vitruvius #41 & #37:

Do not make the insulting mistake of believing that I do not understand your point.

If you think it "brutally unfair" I've got to assume we have a disagreement about what "it" is. I don't see anything even mildly unfair about asking him to explain his own words. We're not talking about some hothouse plant. He's running for the most powerful position on the planet.

Actually, your assumption is a form of character assassination of the country. And it's wrong, I might add.

I believe in honesty, Demosophist.

Demosophist, #40

Actually it's small compared to nearly every other western nation. The only country with a smaller percentage in 2000 was Canada. As of the 2005 Pew poll only Britain was smaller. Canada, Poland, France, Russia, Spain, India, Germany, China, and the Netherlands all have larger percentages of Muslim disapproval than the US, in that order. Actually, your assumption is a form of character assassination of the country. And it's wrong, I might add.

I go with responses I get talking to people I know. I live in Chicago. My social and professional circles include different ages, different political opinions, different "races", and different classes. From my circles, I get that more than a few people hate Muslims. Is the anti-Muslim hatred worse in France & Spain? Could very well be, but that's not my interest. There is no danger of Spain launching airstrikes on Iran, or starting a naval blockade of Iran, both of which would almost certainly begin a much wider war in the Middle East.

Now, I can certainly understand and appreciate Marcus Vitruvius's point of view. I can understand why he would want to give his fellow citizens the benefit of the doubt. But personally, I have seen too much hatred toward Muslims, and I am too concerned about the effects of the hatred, to be satisfied with this. In my view, the situation is dire. And when the situation is dire, one dispenses with niceties and does ones best to determine the actual state of affairs on the ground. And as far as I can tell, the actual situation on the ground is that lots of Americans hate Muslims.

I am sorry if you do not want to hear that. Understanding reality is important to me. I observe society and I come to my conclusions about it. I cannot worry about whether these conclusions are politically incorrect. I am a political actor. I try to influence the politics of the USA in my own small way. If I am to create positive change, then it behooves me to understand the reality on the ground. Because otherwise, I might think that I am creating positive change, but actually be making things worse.

So, rather than being a form a character assassination, my personal conclusion about the mind-state of Americans is a working assumption. If you wish to show me how I am wrong, then go ahead. Anything else is too emotional.

atheist #44:

Well, next time it pops into your head to suggest how great it would be were the US a little more "European" you might consider that we're sort of on the low end of the "hate scale" compared to those benighted societies. Didn't mean to confuse you with actual facts.

By the way, with the exception of Lebanon at 7% the unfavorability toward Christians in Muslim countries ranges from about 37% in Indonesia (where Obama grew up) to 63% in Turkey. Filling out the ticket of countries in the Pew survey we have Jordan (41%), Pakistan (61%), and Morocco (62%). That is, the unfavorable attitudes about Christians in the Middle East is usually two to three times the unfavorability toward Muslims in the US. So if you're really worried about "hate" you might distribute your concern a little more realistically. Of course, according to multicultural dogma, you can't do worse than the US.

Another tidbit: 38% of conservative Americans think Islam is a more violent religion than Christianity, while 33% of liberals think so. Only a difference of 5%. If we break it down further a greater percentage of very conservative and very liberal Americans think Islam is more violent than is the case for either moderately conservative or moderately liberal people. I guess I found that kind of quirky, especially since the concern about the religion doesn't seem to carry over to the people. The frequency of unfavorable attitudes toward Muslims is 10-15% lower than the frequency who see Islam as more violent than Christianity.

I hope none of this shakes your conviction that America is a hating country, and getting worse.

All conversations like this make me think is that the Republican Party is on a mission to destroy itself.

We have just nominated a a confused, senile, flip flopping fossil. I can't see how he can possibly recover from that positively horrendous speech in NO.

His campaign's strategy is idiotic. Do you really want to put this relic on stage every week for three months standing next to Obama? Can anyone remember a candidate who was this sort of serial gaffer. The research that his team does is disasterous.

He has embraced off shore drilling as a short term solution for high gas prices, A government report says that off shore oil development would begin to effect prices and production in 2030.

Who told him to go to Michigan and tell people that jobs were not coming back. That may be true, but you won't get any votes by saying it.

I think the best thing The Party can do is have McCain visit an emergency room so he can gracefully bow out by citing health reasons.

This is not going to be a good year. Time to get one's head out of the sand and wasting mental energy on the "Muslim Issue".

Demosophist #45

Well, next time it pops into your head to suggest how great it would be were the US a little more "European" you might consider that we're sort of on the low end of the "hate scale" compared to those benighted societies. Didn't mean to confuse you with actual facts.

I think you have me confused with some other atheist. I came on this post, mocked you for trying to assassinate Obama's character while being polite. Then I mocked robohobo for calling Obama a 'Chimera', as if he was some kind of crazy, mythological, fire-breathing vision rather than the smart, traingulating centrist that he is.

Finally I mocked you for worrying about whether Obama would be telling the truth when he took an oath of office. Yeah, like George W. Bush was telling the truth when he said he'd uphold the Constitution. But more importantly, wake up and smell the coffee Demosophist. Politicians lie. That's why we pay them the big bucks.

Politicians know they have a country that includes people like you, who are quaking in their boots afraid of Marxists and Muslims. And they know their contry includes people like me, who think Marxism sounds like a good idea, and that we should try it. And they also know their country has lots of apolitical people, who don't really like Marxists, and who fear Muslims, but mostly want impossible things, like to have their gas prices go down. How do they deal with all these different, wacky, impossible desires? They lie to people.

Did I say the US was a 'Hating Country'? No, I said the percentage of people who hate Muslims is too high, and I think its growing. This is significant not as a competition between the US, Europe, and Muslim countries as to who can be the least hatin' country in the world, but rather because the US is so deeply invested in a war in the Middle East. The US has the largest military in the world. We're occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. We have two fleets floating around in the Persian Gulf, just waiting for Iran to do something rash. We can cause some major damage to the Middle East, the world, and to ourselves, by starting a new war in the Middle East. People in Indonesia, Pakistan, France or Spain don't have that option, so I'm less worried about what they think.

Demosophist in #46

Another tidbit: 38% of conservative Americans think Islam is a more violent religion than Christianity, while 33% of liberals think so. Only a difference of 5%. If we break it down further a greater percentage of very conservative and very liberal Americans think Islam is more violent than is the case for either moderately conservative or moderately liberal people. I guess I found that kind of quirky, especially since the concern about the religion doesn't seem to carry over to the people. The frequency of unfavorable attitudes toward Muslims is 10-15% lower than the frequency who see Islam as more violent than Christianity.

So, thank you for these statistics, and I don't see how the USA having 20% to 25% of the population unfavorably disposed toward Muslims is supposed to prove that there is no significant hatred toward Muslims in the USA. To me, that's still too high, especially when you consider the Geo-strategic position of the USA today. More germane to the original conversation, that also seems like a high enough percentage to make smears about Obama supposedly being a Muslim effective.

TOC,

A government report says that off shore oil development would begin to effect [sic] prices and production in 2030.

Well, that settles it, then!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, a 2.2 decade time lag between initial drilling and significant oil delivery is mostly due to bureaucracy. While I agree that bureaucracy is one of the strongest forces in nature, I would not bet on it in a contest against political hysteria.

Oops, runon italics. Nort (or anyone else), can you close the italics right before the end of the blockquote for me?

[Fixed. --NM]

Well atheist, disapproval isn't necessarily hate. I think I've demonstrated that the arms of Americans are more open to Muslims than just about any other non-Muslim country on the planet, and that we're two to three times as accepting of Muslims as Muslims are of Christians. I didn't really think this would dent your disapproval of the country though. I realize you're a "realist."

Politicians know they have a country that includes people like you, who are quaking in their boots afraid of Marxists and Muslims. And they know their contry includes people like me, who think Marxism sounds like a good idea, and that we should try it.

And there's people like me, who don't even particularly like Obama, but absolutely can't stand the sort of drive-by sleazing that Demosophist is pulling here.

Yes, Demosophist, tell me again how it's absolutely critical to you that Obama addresses a rumor you ostensibly don't care about and don't believe in.

Yes, Demosophist, tell me again how it's absolutely critical to you that Obama addresses a rumor you ostensibly don't care about and don't believe in.

It's not a rumor. I'm asking that he address his own words, which appear in his own writings. A.L. even thinks they'd be a net asset for a President of the US. I'm sorry, but I fail to see how this amounts to "drive-by sleazing." In fact, I find the concept that Obama should be immune from such question rather, well... odd.

Obama casually smears Republicans as racists.

"We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

Of course naked accusations like this are not smears if they come from Democrats, who insist on their one-way name-calling privileges.

Whereas even quoting a Democrat's own words against him is McCarthyism, and this is what Demosophist forgot.

#50 from Kirk Parker at 4:39 pm on Jun 21, 2008

TOC,

A government report says that off shore oil development would begin to effect [sic] prices and production in 2030.

Well, that settles it, then!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, a 2.2 decade time lag between initial drilling and significant oil delivery is mostly due to bureaucracy. While I agree that bureaucracy is one of the strongest forces in nature, I would not bet on it in a contest against political hysteria.

Can't say thay I disagree!:) But my point was how inept McCain's campaign has been. He is on the verge of making Dukakis political skills look like those of Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu.

Glen #55:

We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?

Until the last sentence I figured he was talking about Mac.

Boy, I'm sure tempted to vote for the guy...

This sure sounds to me like amateurs hoping to launch a "Swiftboating" campaign.

That would mean the allegation was true.

I can see many negatives to Obama. However I can't see any positives. The problem appears to be the appearance of being un American. The solution was to have dispelled these appearances, yet Obama chose to cultivate those individuals and groups that court radical Islamic groups. As for the Rev. Wright's church it isn't Christian according to its own proclaimations. It is a black liberation church. Nothing less, nothing more.

  1. 48 Atheist
    And they know their country includes people like me, who think Marxism sounds like a good idea, and that we should try it.

After all, the countries that have been governed by Marxists have been rousing successes.Very good at population control, for example. Oh, the TRUE Marxism, the IDEAL Marxism, hasn't been tried yet. It is the not quite true Marxism that has been put into practice so far: the Marxism as practiced in the real world.

"All we are saying, is give Marxism another chance."

One song parody can be answered with another: "Won't get fooled again."

I didn't really think this would dent your disapproval of the country though. I realize you're a "realist."

You know, Demosophist, I appreciate that you realize I am a realist. But I don't really like to do something as emotional as "disapprove" of my nation. It's not as if the USA public gives a rat's butt whether I approve or disapprove of them in any case. I'm more pointing out that, when you are in a position to do as much damage in the Middle East as the USA now is, a 20% of your population that doesn't like muslims is frightening. Further, if a smear resonates with only 20% of the population, then that smear is still an effective political weapon.

Interesting footnote (via Glenn Reynolds) - At a tense Black Caucus meeting last Thursday, Obama said Clinton supporters were behind the Muslim smears, and he had not said so publicly in "the interests of party unity and sensitivity."

Two things to note here: Obama is a lot more candid in camera, and once again we see his cold defensive temper. He shot back with the Muslim smear accusation after a Clintonite took offense at his use of the phrase "Get over it".

According to the sources, Obama suggested he bit his tongue every time. He could be asking for an apology, he could be asking for the Clintons to reconcile with him, but he chose to rise above it.

Well atheist, disapproval isn't necessarily hate. I think I've demonstrated that the arms of Americans are more open to Muslims than just about any other non-Muslim country on the planet...

Yes, indeed, if you're in a Muslim country, you're odds of being bombed by the arms of America are much better than otherwise.

That's what you meant by open arms, isn't it, Demosophist?

Of course since it's all in the interests of freedom and ponies, those dead and dismembered Muslims have no business complaining.
~

Way to do a drive-by, Thunder. You get one warning, and this is it.

Post substantive content related to the topic, great. Do what you just did again and face banning.

PS to all regular contributors: Please don't feed the troll.

Nortius #64:

Right on.

Obama is simply doing what you just told your regular contributors to do: not feeding the trolls. Any response from him will be interpreted as disingenuous weaselling by people who'd never vote for him anyway - in other words, he doesn't have time to waste right now on religious Swiftboating, he's busy winning the Presidency. I'd've thought his "elitist" & very public enjoyment of imported ham would've killed this smear for good. Pork products of any kind are to Muslims what Big Macs are to hardcore vegans.

I'd've thought his "elitist" & very public enjoyment of imported ham would've killed this smear for good.

Ditto for the recent unfortunate incident where Obama tried to prevent a group of people in Muslim attire from sitting too close to him.

Then again, maybe this is just like any other rumor, in that it can travel several times around the world in the time it takes the truth to get its pants on. If that's the case, then whatever damage it could have done to Obama's campaign was done long ago, and is now water under the bridge.

ifthethunderdontgetya™²³®© is speaking humorously, perhaps rudely (like I was), but I think he raises another important point. There may be geopolitical reasons why Muslims in majority-Muslim states may be angrier at Christians than citizens of Western states are angry at Muslims (which is not exactly a balanced comparison in any case.)

The 9/11 attacks killed about 3000 innocent people, terrified the USA, and justly earned the anger of much of the world. The US aireal bombing and invasion of Afghanistan killed about 3000 innocent people in response. Then the US invasion, and occupation of Iraq has killed something like 82,000 - 92,000 civilians violently to date (this figure only reflects documented civilian casualties, and ignores the aireal bombings that took place before the invasion, so is therefore probably way too low.) Not to mention, the invasion has created an enormous refugee situation, with an estimated 2 million people having left Iraq for refugee camps in Jordan, and another 2 million internally displaced (all out of a nation of about 28 million.) Add something like 1,300 killed in a US-backed bombing of Somalia, (with about 400,000 turned into refugees).

You can see from this that "The Western World", (mostly the USA) has killed vastly more Muslims civilians than Muslim terrorists have killed US civilians. This imbalance of violence could perhaps explain why Muslims might be angrier at "Christians" than Westerners are angrier at Muslims- Westerners have simply done vastly more damage to Muslim countries than the other way around.

Atheist: most of the ~90,0000 civilians killed in Iraq were killed by Jihadists. It would appear that in addition to not believing in a Supreme Being, that you do not believe in a coherent examination of the facts. BTW, I am an agnostic.

But what can one expect of someone who wants to give Marxism another chance, in spite of the abysmal track record that Marxist regimes have had in the last century.

Whatever. Atheist, you too are now on notice.

This thread is not about whether Dar-al-Harb is more to be deprecated than Dar-al-Islam, no matter how worthy the topic might be in another thread here at WoC.

They’re things Obama has said about himself.

That's what this thread is about. A word to the wise.

#68 atheist:

You're probably right. And that's just as it should be, given that the other side started it - 1250 years ago. Time, and time again, and past time, that we finished it - and then, to return to the thread topic, Obama's middle name and that part of his upbringing would be irrelevant.

Yes, a fairly large numbers of Westerners do dislike Moslems in general, and this may harm Mr. Obama's chances because of his middle name. Perhaps the 11308 (according to thereligionofpeace.com) terror attacks by Moslems since 9/11 have just a little to do with that? Personally, I find a religion that regards cutting the throats of schoolgirls as virtuous just a teensy bit distasteful. How about you?

Nortius Maximus #70:

This thread is not about whether Dar-al-Harb is more to be deprecated than Dar-al-Islam, no matter how worthy the topic might be in another thread here at WoC.

I was looking at whether the statistics about hatred that Demosophist provided could have underlying geopolitical causes. But, I understand your point, so I'll cease & desist.

Fletcher, Atheist:

You might need to go farther back, to at least 1993, or even all the way back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Regardless, this thread is not the place. Please.

I find it unbelievable that anyone would waste a moments time on the Obama is a secret muslim or secret marxist. It will not get one vote and it will only work to his advantage as it did versus Clinton.

Republicans will win or lose this election around pocketbook issues which will also form our foreign policy. So far, the McCain campaign has failed miserably in that regard. they have 4 months to do that and any focus on these "issues" will be suicidal. The electorate does not care! Even if you do.

TOC, I disagree; the electorate does care. It's not a question of whether he's a part of some Manchurian Candidate secret plot - which only an insane fringe are connected to - but whether Obama is "one of us". Kerry clearly wasn't, and I'd say that's one of the main reasons he didn't win - he couldn't connect with the average voter. Obama is vastly, hugely, immensely better at this than Kerry - but he's still somewhat brittle here.

I believe that voters vote in larger part based on personal connection with the candidate than because of any belief in their policies.

A.L.

#75 from Armed Liberal at 8:53 pm on Jun 23, 2008

OK, I see your point, but I feel that your "one of us" theory as to the impetus behind these is overly benign. I would hope I am wrong in this regard.

I also think that the Right raising these issues is counterproductive to their chances of defeating him, but that may be because I have been very disillusioned by the Rovian tactics used by the present administration that has led the party to what looks like a catastrophe this fall.

Obama's real weakness on that score, AL, is that he keeps cutting loose the people who have been his closest friends and allies. I was well-disposed to him personally -- politically, not so much, because he is far further to the Left than I wish to be -- up until he recanted his "More Perfect Union" speech and disowned the Rev. Mr. Wright. I thought the speech was just right, honest, and showed a brave loyalty to an old friend despite political disadvantage. It wasn't fair to his grandmother that he spoke of her as he did -- she was apparently a devoted antiracist -- but I was willing to cut him some slack on that point. He seemed to be trying for a kind of loyalty to all sides of the people who had helped him along the way.

What he's done since then has been highly upsetting.

He has changed his mind and abandoned Wright, whom he now claims never to have really known; his church; campaign finance reform, to which he had devoted much of his rhetoric; refused Town Halls, a concrete way of showing his devotion to the new politics he speaks of; repeatedly cut loose good people who have believed in him and fought for him, like Samantha Power, for momentary advantage; etc., etc., etc.

"Is he one of us?" is shorthand for "Can we rely on him?" At base, when the chips are down, will he do what we need him to do, or not?

Sadly, his grandmother moment seems to have been the truth in his great speech on race. What he said about Wright he did not mean. What he said about his church and faith he did not mean. When he showed himself willing to betray someone who had loved him and fought for him all his life, however, that he meant.

How are we supposed to rely on him? The man has betrayed every kind of trust, right before our eyes, in just two or three months' time. He has betrayed his grandmother, who is family; his reverend, which is faith and friendship; his supporters like Power, which is loyalty; his high rhetoric on campaign finance reform and new politics, which is principle.

Why would anyone vote for him now? Why would you?

Grim #77

Why would anyone vote for him now? Why would you?

Because he's significantly less batshit than McCain. Duh.

I'm afraid that '%@#$&!' is not a convincing argument. The drop into profanity normally closes the rational period of the discussion.

That said: I have a lot of problems with McCain myself, chiefly around his apparent disdain for the First Amendment. Even so, at least I know that there are things he believes in enough to suffer for them, things to which he is loyal even when it costs.

"Is he one of us?" Yes, he is. Bad and good, he's one of us.

I'll vote for Obama because I have no interest in identity politics, and because I regard McCain as an unbalanced man with a dangerous ideology. There, is that a sufficiently un-profane explanation for you?

Also, Grim, please vote for whomever you like, but if you are looking for someone who does not change their beliefs to suit the trend of the moment, and always remains faithful, then I think you may want to stay away from politicians in general, of any party.

I don't expect a man to be faithful to "trends," positions, or ideas.

I do expect him to be faithful to people. Especially to the people who have loved him, supported him, and fought for him.

As for leaving politicians alone, I'll be glad to do that, just as soon as I can figure out how to get them to leave me alone. When taxmen and policemen go away, and people stop passing laws that interrupt my day and try to tell me what to do; when armies no longer form among one people to take things from another, and people no longer band together to force others to their will; then I'll be glad to let it lie. There's certainly nothing about it I like, and many things in life I prefer.

Grim in #81

I do expect him to be faithful to people. Especially to the people who have loved him, supported him, and fought for him.

McCain was not faithful to his first wife, Carol the woman who had remained faithful to him throughout his long imprisonment and torture in Vietnam. They had had three children together. During the years that McCain was imprisoned, she raised their children alone. During this period, she had a disfiguring car accident. Shortly after McCain was released by his Vietnamese captors, in 1973, and came back home, he began having affairs. In 1980, McCain married Cindy Lou Hensley, the only child of the founder of Hensley & Co., a major distributer for Annhauser/Busch. McCain had been having an affair with Hensley for some time. McCain used the Hensley money to launch his political career.

If you want someone who is faithful to people, then you probably don't want John McCain, Barack Obama, or really, any other politician.

TOC #76:

I also think that the Right raising these issues is counterproductive to their chances of defeating him, but that may be because I have been very disillusioned by the Rovian tactics used by the present administration that has led the party to what looks like a catastrophe this fall.

I think it is very counterproductive to raise the issue of whether Obama attended a "madrassa" in Jakarta, as some have claimed, because there's absolutely no evidence that he did so. I'd like to do what I can to convince those so inclined that it's dangerous. However, there are varying theories about whether his attendance in a "Muslim school" in Jakarta (probably meaning a public school with a secular Muslim orientation) is a bug or a feature. I don't see why asking him about it should be inherently off limits. If he can turn it into an advantage, sobeit.

I also think McCain hasn't been given nearly enough credit for supporting a change in policy that has confounded the MSM's Iraq narrative to such a degree that reporters in Iraq have to threaten their news employers with physical violence in order to get published. :-^. This is, to say the least, an interesting little social drama.

I saw the interview with his first wife. It is a sad story, but you're talking about people who had been separated for years, and subject each to severe individual tragedies that changed who they were in the intervening period. It is hardly shocking that the marriage did not last when they were reunited. They seem not to blame each other for the separation.

That is not disloyalty, but tragedy: in fact, it is a collection of tragedies, each of which separately is larger than what many people have ever had to face. War, capture, prison, torture, horrific disfigurement, years-long separation: any of those things would be worse than what most have had to bear. It is a bold man who would speak too harshly of those who have suffered not just one but all of those things, and come through them as well as they have.

#84 from Demosophist at 4:21 am on Jun 24, 2008

However, there are varying theories about whether his attendance in a "Muslim school" in Jakarta (probably meaning a public school with a secular Muslim orientation) is a bug or a feature. I don't see why asking him about it should be inherently off limits. If he can turn it into an advantage, sobeit.

Go ahead. Ask. As an academic exercise, I think it is perfectly legitimate. But, it happened over 30 years ago when he was a minor. I don't think it gets any votes. Not that it makes much difference, The McCain campaign is doing a brilliant job in losing votes all on its own. The Black comment about McCain being in need of a terrorist attack being a prime example.

“So I figured this would blow over quickly, and the real issue would be that he sat in First Trinity's pews for twenty years, apparently stone deaf”
-Demosophist

Deaf? About what I wonder?

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