Tuesday, May 18, 2021   

  Home     About     Guest Editorials     Advertise     Blog     Site Map     Links     Contact      Subscribe RSS      Subscribe Email  
Home » General

The Right Wing’s Election-Year Islamophobia Fuels a New Smear Campaign Against Obama

2 April 2012 General 44 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

by John Feffer (AlterNet)

Those who fervently believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim generally practice their furtive religion in obscure recesses of the Internet. Once in a while, they’ll surface in public to remind the news media that no amount of evidence can undermine their convictions.

In October 2008, at a town hall meeting in Minnesota for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, a woman called Obama “an Arab.” McCain responded, incongruously enough, that Obama was, in fact, “a decent family man” and not an Arab at all. In an echo of this, a woman recently stood up at a town hall in Florida and began a question for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum by asserting that the president “is an avowed Muslim.” The audience cheered, and Santorum didn’t bother to correct her.

Though they belong to a largely underground cult, the members of the Obama-is-Muslim congregation number as many as one third of all Republicans. A recent poll found that only 14% percent of Republicans in Alabama and Mississippi believe that the president is Christian.

These true believers treat their scraps of evidence like holy relics: the president’s middle name, his grandfather’s religion, a widely circulated photo of Obama in a turban. They occasionally traffic in outright fabrications: that he attended a radical madrasa in Indonesia as a child or that he put his hand on the Qur’an to be sworn in as president. An even more apocalyptic subset believes Obama to be nothing short of the anti-Christ.

By and large, however, this cult doesn’t attract mainstream support from the larger church of Obama haters. Indeed, these more orthodox faithful have carefully shifted the debate from Obama being Muslim to Obama actingMuslim. Evangelical pundits, presidential candidates, and the right-wing media have all ramped up their attacks on the president for, as Baptist preacher Franklin Graham put it recently on MSNBC, “giving Islam a pass.”

The conservative mainstream still calls the president’s religious beliefs into question, but they stop just short of accusing him of apostasy and concealment. What they consider safe is the assertion that Obama is acting as if he were Muslim. In this way, Republican mandarins are cleverly channeling a conspiracy theory into a policy position.

There is a whiff of desperation in all this.  After all, it’s not an easy time for the GOP. The economy shows modest signs of improvement. The Republican presidential candidates are still engaged in a fratricidal primary. By expanding counterterrorism operations and killing Osama bin Laden, the president has effectively removed national security from the list of Republican talking points.

One story, however, still ties together so many narrative threads for conservatives. Charges that the president is a socialist or a Nazi or an elitist supporter of college education certainly push some buttons. But the single surefire way of grabbing the attention of the media and the public — as well as appealing to the instincts of the Republican base — is to assert, however indirectly, that Barack Obama is a Manchurian candidate sent from the Islamic world.

Obama and the Muslim World

A succession of Republican candidates have attempted to run to the right of party favorite Mitt Romney by asserting that only a true conservative can defeat Obama in November. Most of them boasted of the same powerful backer. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum all declared that God asked them to run for higher office. Together with Newt Gingrich, they have deployed various methods of appealing to their constituencies, but none is more potent than religion.

Rick Santorum, a Catholic and the favorite of the evangelical community, has been particularly adept at using his soapbox as a pulpit. The president subscribes to a “phony theology,” Santorum has claimed, “not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.” Although he occasionally asserts that “Obama’s personal faith is none of my concern,” he nonetheless speaks of the president’s attempt to “impose values on people of faith”– implying that the president is certainly no member of that community.

In his attacks on the president’s spirituality, Santorum is cleverly attacking Mitt Romney’s Mormonism as well (a theology also based on text other than the Bible). At the same time, the suggestion that Obama is somehow “other” operates as a code word for “Black” in a race in which race goes largely unmentioned.

It’s an odd set of charges. Obama, after all, did everything possible during his first presidential campaign to foreground his Christianity. He was repeatedly seen praying in churches and assiduously avoided mosques. He never made a campaign appearance with a prominent Muslim. He talked about his “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ.

The day after he clinched the Democratic Party nomination in 2008, he gave a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in which he reaffirmed that he was “a true friend of Israel.” Although he would occasionally mention his Muslim relatives and the time he spent in Indonesia as a child, he generally did whatever he could to emphasize only two out of the three major monotheisms.

As president, Obama has certainly “reached out” to the Muslim world. In Cairo, in June 2009, he spoke of seeking “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”

That new beginning, however, has yet to come. At home, for example, the Obama administration provided federal funds that the New York City Police Department then used to expand its surveillance of Muslim American neighborhoods. (Even the CIA was involved in this “human mapping” project.) The FBI has spent the Obama years rounding up suspected Muslim terrorists in operations that flirt dangerously with entrapment. The administration has expanded the no-fly list, though because the list is secret it’s difficult to know whether Muslim-Americans are specifically profiled. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that they are.

The administration’s record internationally is even more disappointing. The conduct of U.S. troops in Afghanistan — the night raids, massacres (including the recent murders of 16 Afghan villagers), and the Qur’an burnings — have enraged local Muslims. Obama has expanded the CIA’s drone air campaign by a considerable margin in the Pakistani borderlands. Civilian casualties, overwhelmingly Muslim, continue to occur there and in other “overseas contingency operations” as U.S. Special Operations Forces have dramatically expanded their activities in the Muslim world.

Despite right-wing charges, Obama has maintained a tight relationship with Israel and the Israeli leadership. As former New Republiceditor Peter Beinart concludes, “The story of Obama’s relationship to [Prime Minister] Netanyahu and his American Jewish allies is, fundamentally, a story of acquiescence.”

It’s no surprise, then, that surveys in six Middle East countries taken just before and two months after the Cairo speech in 2009, the Brookings Institution and Zogby International discoveredthat the number of respondents optimistic about the president’s approach to the region had suffered a dramatic drop: from 51% to 16%. A 2011 Pew poll found that U.S. favorability ratings had continued their slide in Jordan (to 13%), Pakistan (12%), and Turkey (10%).

>> Continue reading: The Right Wing’s Election-Year Islamophobia Fuels a New Smear Campaign Against Obama


  1. What does a MUSLIM act like??? So racist, no matter how they couch it.

  2. Yeah-drinking alcohol and eating pork while he bombs Waziris.

  3. I like that they found a picture of him making the “Are you f***ing serious?” face. It’s appropriate

  4. Really? And I’m snow white. Give me a break.

  5. It’s like using gay as an insult. It’s only an insult if you are extremely ignorant, therefore people are unlikely to respect the opinion of people who are that ignorant anyway.

  6. What proof do these nut jobs have?

  7. Obama is Christian conservative, despite his populist rhetoric he believes in capitalism.

  8. I wanna fuck obama.lol

  9. Sad.

  10. They can’t get away with the racist things they really want to say… So they soft soap it a tad

  11. Give me a break and give all muslims a break. This country was founded on difference of religion. Get over it and keep your nose out of everyone’s business please.

  12. Even if he ‘was’ a Muslim, so what? There is nothing in the Constitution that says the President must be any particular religion or have any religious beliefs at all.

  13. And this coming from the American Taliban, as I now think of our right wing!

  14. As a muslim I do not see Obama practicing Islam. I do see him as rational. Maybe some see thinking rather than emotionally reacting as muslim traits. That’s all I can figure other than bigotry unto the spirit. And if that’s the case, I thank God for Obama.

  15. The Radical Right Wing would probably nail Jesus Christ to the cross again for his social policies if they could.

  16. “Muslim” is not a race, Donna. I don’t see it as Islamophobiic or racist at all. They are just pointing out the obvious: Barack Obama acts as if he were a member of the Muslim religion. For instance, he apologized to Muslims for the burning for the burning of Qur’ans, yet he slaps Christian organizations in America with mandates that violate their consciences. I don’t think Obama’s a Muslim. I think he sides with any theology that calls for socialism/communism, and in many discussions with Muslims, I have learned that there is a strong communist bent among Muslims. It’s very startling to me. I’m all for stopping U.S. occupation of Muslim nations, and treating Muslims farily, however, I won’t refrain from speaking the truth for or against anyone.

  17. Arch conservatives are so eager to place all of their enemies in one category that they’re actually accusing the same person of being militantly secular and devoutly Muslim. Even if they’re just accusing him of “acting like a Muslim”, it doesn’t make sense, since the only way one could hope to legitimately define an absurd term like “acting like a Muslim” is to follow the tenets of Islam, which are quite compatible with Judeo-Christian tenets.

  18. It will never stop. After all, he’s only half white.

  19. What the Hell does “acting like a Muslim” even mean? Going to work, paying you bills, being a responsible citizen, you know, like every Muslim I’ve ever met?

  20. The ignorance of humanity is infinite.

  21. Just to clarify is isn’t racist because it doesn’t have to do with race, it is prejudice or prejudicial unless I guess if they are implying that he is a Muslim because he is black but then there are a lot of black people in this country that aren’t so that would be even more ridiculous. If I should care that Obama is a Muslim think I guess I should be terrified that Mitt is a Mormon. All the people pushing this sort of point are trying to do is to create division; they are afraid because of something in their own heads and therefore think that everyone else should be afraid; pretty sad actually.

  22. lol…people are stupid.

  23. there’s people here in montreal QC that are oriental and muslim – it’s a personal choice – Islam is a religion of peace – more people should read about it first – before saying what they “think” it is

  24. @Sean, he doesn’t behave like a Muslim. I sometimes think he deliberately fans the flame of hate so that he can continue to put forward his policies for a totalitarian state. It’s like he’s playing two games at once.

  25. Their are many forms of racism ,Islamophobia is just another form.

  26. The only reason I’ve ever heard people say Obama is a Muslim, is his middle name. And anyways, I’d rather have a Muslim in office than my country ran by a bunch of bigots.

  27. What a shame!

  28. Crikey.

  29. Barack Hussein Obama is a Christian. In other words, he is basically a Buddhist.

  30. 1) He’s not Muslim 2) Being Muslim is not a negative attribute anyway 3) His presidency has been horrible enough that I really don’t see why anyone needs to stoop that low to attack him. Obamacare is all the ammunition you need to derail his campaign.

  31. I’m reminded of a situation where Charlie Chaplin was asked by a German diplomat if he was Jewish, t’ which his reply was “Sir, I do not have that honour”. These idiot smearmongers are like braindead junkyard dogs, that haven’t had a drink in their lives that hasn’t been 50% diesel, barking at a piece of rope because they think it looks like a rotting bone. THEY are the worst advert for America, although they would never believe that either. I’d laugh it wasn’t tragic.

  32. they want to take him off the real issue.

  33. Reaching the bottom of thye barrel, they are!

  34. Idiots

  35. These people should be flogged.

  36. These people should be flogged.

  37. This contradicts there claims of muslims are all terrorists. If he is acting like a muslim by respecting his wife, children and his nation than this dupanks there BS.

  38. tina,

    come on now. you know flogging is reserved for fornicators, drunks, and those who falsely accuse chase women. well maybe women who wear pants (nigeria) or drive (saudi arabia). how about if a women doesn’t wear her headscarf (iran, saudi arabia, etc)? you’re all for flogging.

    break out the whip. muslims are in charge now!!!! lol well that would be funny if a billion people didn’t agree with you.

    Sahih Muslim Book 17 (this book is from Imam Muslim (Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj)who traveled throughout Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Syria and Egypt. Out of 300,000 hadith which he evaluated, approximately 4,000 are authenticated.)

    Book 017, Number 4232:

    Ali reported: If I impose Hadd on anyone, and he (in course of punish ment) dies, I would not mind except in case of a drunkard. If he dies. I would pay indemnity for him because the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) has laid down no rule for it.

    well that’s mighty nice of him. http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/03/bangladeshi-girl-dies-after-public-flogging/

    tina, you shouldn’t jest about flogging. people are actually dying because of islam. read your koran. seriously do i have to post the beginning of “the light” (the name does make me laugh so) again????

  39. and here’s mike again to completely change the subject. Have you ever read the Sublime Koran? A Koran translated by a woman this time. It capitalizes on the fact that many of the words in the Koran have up to 27 different meanings. For instance, the passage to “lightly beat” your wife for disobeying can also be translated as remove one’s self from, or with draw from. so where before one could have justified beating one’s wife, they are now told instead to walk off the anger and let off the steam. The problem is not Islam. The problem is patriarchy. If men are the only ones allowed to interpret the book, it’s going to favor men. Keep in mind, too, that if you were to ask a majority of the women punished what they’re religion is, they would say “Islam”. By only focusing on the men’s interpretation of the Koran, are you not also being sexist? refusing to Islam as it is seen through the eyes of 50% of the Muslim population seems a little narrow minded to me. Put the women in charge of the Muslim world, and i’m sure you would see some vast improvements.

  40. So Sean, not only is being Muslim bad, being communist is too?

  41. Siyajkak,

    yes i love to change the subject. obviously you missed my post on the ten women everyone should know article. yes i’m aware of the 25 possible meanings.


    “The words “beat them” in 4:34 are a command, an imperative form of the verb. Yet the Prophet, peace and the mercy of God be upon him, never carried out this command. Even if one were to say that just because a word in the Quran is grammatically a command does not mean that the Prophet had to carry it out; it means it is permissible for him to do or not to do. The retort: He chose not to do it. Therefore, whoever follows the Sunnah of the Prophet should also choose not to do it.
    The word interpreted as “to beat” for over 1400 years in the Islamic world has over 25 meanings. Why chose a meaning that goes against both the legal and moral principles of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet?
    The strongest argument for why the Arabic word does not mean “to beat” but rather means “to go away” is because interpreting the Arabic word as “to beat” contradicts another verse in the Quran. We start with a premise: Islam encourages marriage and while divorce is allowed, it is discouraged. The Prophet said: Marriage is half of faith. He also said: Divorce is deplorable.”

    only took 1400 years to get divine revelation right? god clearly needs a new editor. send another messinger. wait that’s not possible. muhammad was the last

  42. “Islam as it is seen through the eyes of 50% of the Muslim population seems a little narrow minded to me. Put the women in charge of the Muslim world, and i’m sure you would see some vast improvements.”

    you sure boss? you know they have surveyed many muslim women and they said in effect they were responsible for their husbands beating them.

    and yess i know only 20% of muslims are arab. and yes some jordanians are christian.


    “The beliefs of 356 Jordanian women about wife-beating were investigated, using a self-administered questionnaire. The participants showed a strong tendency to justify wife-beating,”

  43. in islam men are the “protectors and maintainers” of women. right? that’s the justification for 4:11? another flawed concept by allah.


    “This experience and/or perception of being socially and economically
    dependent may force women to be more tolerant of an abusive husband.”

  44. There are plenty of political criticisms to be used against Obama. The Muslim card only makes us rational Obama critics look bad.

Have your say!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>