Hardly a day goes by when you don't see some reference to it -- the "smear" that Obama is a Muslim. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal posed the question, "It is inaccurate to call Barack Obama a Muslim. Is it a slur? On Tuesday, the New York Times headlined an article "Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama." Wednesday, Ed Morrissey asked, "Obama running from Muslims?" Even the broadcast media interviews Mulsims about the issue.
I'll get back to those articles in a bit. First, I call on Obama to face his Muslim issue head on. Nothing else will make this "smear" rumor go away.
Like Romney did with the Mormon issue, and Obama himself did with the race issue, Obama must deal with these rumors head on. Obama should give a speech, in which he repeats that he is not Muslim, and goes on to explain why but it should be fine with Americans if Obama were Muslim.
Before the Obamatons launch the hate mail, let me say that I was raised to respect others and was taught that I should strive, like God, to be "no respecter of persons." I've always tried to do that. It does not matter to me what a person's religious beliefs are. What is important to me is that our leaders have some religious belief. And I am comforted by the recent Pew findings that most Americans agree with the statement that many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life.
In the 20 or so months since Obama caved and broke his word that he would not run for president in 2008, he has been unable to dispel the "smear" that he is Muslim. Like Hillary, I'm willing to take Obama's word that he is a Christian and has never been a Muslim. I am willing to do so despite the fact that Obama is more than willing to break his word when he finds it politically expedient to do so.
Notwithstanding my recognition of Obama being a Christian, and that he has never been a Muslim, the fact is that Obama's efforts to kill the Muslim rumor have failed. Recently, as reported by ABC News' Jake Tapper, The Jerusalem Post produced a story saying "Barack Obama's half brother Malik said Thursday that if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background:"
It ended up on Fox News, with anchor Brut Hume saying on June 16 that: "Barack Obama is a practicing Christian, married in a Christian church, whose children were also baptized in that church. His campaign has emphasized his faith in part to dispel what the campaign calls an online smear campaign which contends among other things that Obama was raised a Muslim.The Jerusalem Post has since taken the story down of its website, which Fox reported Tuesday.
There is even a statement on his official campaign website reading, quote, 'Obama has never been a Muslim, and is a committed Christian.' But Obama's half brother is not so sure. Malik Obama tells The Jerusalem Post that, 'if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background.'"
Then there was the incident at an Obama rally in Detroit last Monday, when two Muslim women in hijab, or traditional clothing, were asked to move when they sat behind the podium, where they would have appeared in photographs and on television with the candidate.
The Wall Street Journal's Amy Chozick, reports that "Obama Walks a Fine Line With Muslims." The article is subtittled, "Campaign's Efforts to Dispel Rumors Risk Offending a Base of Support." Chozick writes that the Obama campaign suggests it is inaccurate, and a slur, to call Obama a Muslim:
A new campaign Web site designed to air and rebut potentially damaging Internet rumors reads in one part: "Smear: Barack Obama is a Muslim... Truth: Sen. Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim and is a committed Christian."
The characterization highlights a tricky balance the campaign is trying to strike: to tamp down false rumors -- intended by some to link the Democratic presidential candidate to radical Islam -- without offending Muslims and harming his image of inclusiveness.
Muslim-Americans have made up one of Sen. Obama's most loyal bases of support since he announced his candidacy last year. But lately some Muslims, concentrated in several battleground states, say they are having second thoughts over his campaign's ardent defense of his religious background.
[. . .]
As for the "Fight the Smears" Web site, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor says it was designed to "dispel any and all misinformation," and the Muslim rumor is misinformation. The "smear," he wrote in an email, is that "most of these attacks allege that he is a radical Muslim who attended a madrassa."
Chozick goes on about how Muslim voters in swing states have noticed the disparity between Obama's outreach to them as opposed to other religions. Obama's obsessive avoidance of these American Muslims is alienationg them.
In the New York Times, Andrea Elliott reports that "as Senator Barack Obama courted voters in Iowa last December, Representative Keith Ellison, the country’s first Muslim congressman, stepped forward eagerly to help:"
Mr. Ellison believed that Mr. Obama’s message of unity resonated deeply with American Muslims. He volunteered to speak on Mr. Obama’s behalf at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, one of the nation’s oldest Muslim enclaves. But before the rally could take place, aides to Mr. Obama asked Mr. Ellison to cancel the trip because it might stir controversy. Another aide appeared at Mr. Ellison’s Washington office to explain.
"I will never forget the quote," Mr. Ellison said, leaning forward in his chair as he recalled the aide’s words."He said, 'We have a very tightly wrapped message.'"
Ellison, and other Muslims are a little bitter at being snubbed by the Obama campaign:
While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations — unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts — have been ignored. Last week, two Muslim women wearing head scarves were barred by campaign volunteers from appearing behind Mr. Obama at a rally in Detroit.
In interviews, Muslim political and civic leaders said they understood that their support for Mr. Obama could be a problem for him at a time when some Americans are deeply suspicious of Muslims. Yet those leaders nonetheless expressed disappointment and even anger at the distance that Mr. Obama has kept from them.
"This is the 'hope campaign,' this is the ‘change campaign,'" said Mr. Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota. Muslims are frustrated, he added, that "they have not been fully engaged in it."
[. . .]
"A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way," Mr. Ellison said.
Mr. Ellison, a first-term congressman, remains arguably the senator's most important Muslim supporter. He has attended Obama rallies in Minnesota and appears on the campaign’s Web site. But Mr. Ellison said he was also forced to cancel plans to campaign for Mr. Obama in North Carolina after an emissary for the senator told him the state was "too conservative." Mr. Ellison said he blamed Mr. Obama’s aides - not the candidate himself - for his campaign’s standoffishness.
Elliott, like Chozick, goes on about how Obama is alienating American Muslims, who notice Obama's fearful distancing efforts, and must wonder about Obama's claim to be the unity candidate.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council's Edina Lecovic, discusses Obama's Muslim issue with MSNBC's Monica Novotny in the following video report:
When I saw Morrissey's article, I knew he hit the nail on the head:
Fear lies at the heart of all bigotry, even the passive kind, and it’s clear that the Muslim rumor has Obama spooked.We know Obama is afraid of his Muslim issue. It is one of the explanations he used to break his commitment to accept public financing.
But the cat is already out of the bag. The only way for Obama to overcome his fear, and his Muslim issue, is to go out and meet it head on.
However, we should be clear: there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim in America. Just as with being Jewish, Christian, Ba’hai, Buddhist, Hindu, or atheist, personal faith doesn’t matter as long as one isn’t seeking the overthrow of the government. It’s a matter of personal choice. In America, all but the fringe understand this.Instead of so desperately trying to distance himself from American Muslims, Obama should give the speech, and welcome Muslims into American politics.