As I noted here, Obama has been going to some lengths to make sure nobody thinks he’s a Muslim. Nor has he been making any particular effort to add, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” This is an example of Obama’s canny political calculation and tacit awareness that people are suspicious of the violent and supremacist elements of Islam, but the Perpetually Angry are angry again, and soon he may have to issue an unequivocal Islam Is A Religion Of Peace declaration.
“Obama website riles Muslims,” by Beth Reinhard for the Miami Herald, July 6 (thanks to Twostellas):
Vanessa Alikhan was at a Democratic ”unity party” when she overheard another guest indignantly refute the rumor that Barack Obama is Muslim, as if it was a racial slur. She later recounted the conversation to a friend.
A racial slur? A slur, sure — his website denying it is called Fight The Smears. But a racial slur? What race is Islam again?
”She told me that this is politics and that I should just deal with it,” said Alikhan, a Fort Lauderdale graphic artist who converted to Islam about five years ago. “To me this is the same as telling an African American or a Jewish person they should deal with discrimination because people aren’t ready to embrace them as a group.”
She and other American Muslims are speaking out, as the Obama campaign pushes back on widely e-mailed and patently false claims that he is tied to Islamic terrorists. The rumor could be particularly damaging in a must-win state like Florida, which has a large Jewish population.
Determined not to be ”swift-boated” the way 2004 nominee John Kerry was buried by attacks on his military record, the Obama campaign has set up the website www.fightthesmears.com. While Muslim leaders understand the campaign’s responsibility to counter misinformation, they say the classification of being Muslim as a ”smear” goes too far.
Their outrage peaked when the Obama campaign asked two women wearing head scarves to move away from the candidate — and the television cameras — at a rally last month in Detroit. Obama personally apologized to the women, but the incident reflected the difficulties of balancing hard-nosed political calculations with the campaign’s overall message of change and unity.
”The truth is Obama has both set the record straight about his religious upbringing, background and faith — and spoken out against efforts to marginalize Muslims,” said Obama campaign spokesman Josh Earnest.
`I’M NOT A MUSLIM’
He pointed to Obama’s interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, in which he said, “I have never been a Muslim. I’m not a Muslim. These e-mails are obviously not just offensive to me, somebody who is a devout Christian, who’s been going to the same church for the last 20 years, but it’s also offensive to Muslims, because it plays into, obviously, a certain fear-mongering there.”
But some Muslim leaders said Obama needs to do more to make it clear that he welcomes their support in his campaign. Though he’s spoken at many churches and synagogues — including a conservative congregation in Boca Raton — he has never visited a mosque, said Altaf Ali, executive director of the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There are between 200,000 and 400,000 Muslims in Florida and about seven million nationwide.
It would be refreshing if Obama said something like this: “I won’t visit a mosque in the company of anyone affiliated with the unindicted co-conspirators of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and I won’t visit any mosque at all unless and until Muslims in America definitively renounce, in deed as well as word, the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism.”
But I won’t be holding my breath. Still, I doubt Obama will visit a mosque before the election. He is too good a politician.
The Muslim community saw little outreach from presidential candidates until 2000, when Republican George Bush successfully enlisted Muslim donors and included mosques in his proposal for government partnering with religious institutions. But since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, many American Muslims say they are treated with suspicion.
”Since 9/11, our community has been portrayed as inherently evil, and what Obama is doing is adding to the negative stereotype,” Ali said. “His message is about change, and he has to appeal to every minority group.”
That’s a tall order for the first African-American presidential nominee as he tries to broaden his appeal for the general election. Ali said that Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, is uniquely suited “to be a bridge between America and the Muslim world.”
I predicted well over a year ago that people would be saying this about Obama.
Saif Ishoof, president of the Center for Voter Advocacy, a nonpartisan group that educates Muslims about the political process, said Republican John McCain also needs to show more sensitivity.
Ishoof, a lifelong Republican, said he bristles when McCain consistently refers to “Islamic terrorists.”
”By using that phraseology, he is giving credence to a world view that 99 percent of Muslims do not consider their own,” said Ishoof, an attorney who runs a Miami engineering firm….
Here we go again. As I have pointed out many, many times, basic grammar indicates that referring to “Islamic terrorists” says nothing at all about Muslims as a whole. Ishoof and his ilk are just trying to make sure no one notices the primary motivations and goals of the Islamic jihadists. Now, why is that?