Saturday, March 08, 2008

"As Far As I Know"

Last Sunday, Hillary Clinton was on "60 Minutes." In her interview with Steve Kroft, he asked her about the comments a supporter had raised of Obama during a campaign rally. The supporter had said that he thought Obama did not know the national anthem and that he was a Muslim.

Kroft asked her if she thought that Obama is Muslim. Clinton's response:
No. No. Why would I? No, there is nothing to base that on, as far as I know.
As far as I know.

That's one hell of a qualifier: With those five words, she left open the possibility that there might be something in his past that would make one suspect he is or was Muslim, as far as she knows.

It's worth noting that her campaign was behind the claim circulated a year ago that Obama was educated in a madrasa as a boy in Indonesia (in American lexicon that means terrorist training camp; but in Arabic it simply means school; he was educated in a madrasa, but in the Arabic, not the American sense).

The insinuation that Obama is Muslim is being used as a slur, an attack. The implication is that it's a bad thing to be Muslim. To be Muslim is to be a bad guy, a terrorist, one of them. Wanted: Dead or Alive (In Bush's worldview).

Can you imagine if "Jew" were being used in our public discourse in the same way? [I grant that sometimes it is . . .]

I have yet to hear any outrage over the use of the label "Muslim" in this way. The only outrage I hear is over the attempt by various forces, including the Clinton campaign, to label Obama Muslim when in fact he's Christian. The response is more than simply to correct the record: "No, he's not Muslim, he's Christian." It is an attempt to redeem him or clear him from being one of them: "No, he's not a terrorist, he's one of us."

So, I am disgusted by the Clinton campaign for attempting to smear Obama by insinuating that he's Muslim. I am equally disgusted that such a tactic works in this theoretically inclusive culture.

[I can imagine a critic reading this blog post and calling me a stupid idealist, a softy, who does not understand that they are, indeed, the bad guys out to get us. But, for every radical terrorist who might wish Americans harm there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims who want nothing more than what Americans want: security, love, sustinence, life.]

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