Anti-Obama Smears About Religion or Race?
Anti-Obama Smears About Religion or Race?
Monday, September 22,2008 13:58
By Eboo Patel

I saw someone in Atlanta wearing a shirt with a picture of King and a picture of Barack - "The Dreamer and the Dream" it read. It reminded me, even in the midst of the partisan fray of a presidential election, that Barack Obama"s journey is an achievement for America - one that will make our country proud for generations to come, no matter what happens in this election. A man who wouldn"t have been able to drink from the same water fountain as most of the people reading this sixty years ago is a finalist to be the leader of the free world. The world changing before our eyes. I thought one of John McCain"s most statesmanlike moments was when he congratulated Obama for the historic nature of his accomplishment on the night he received the nomination.

Which is exactly what makes the race/faith smear campaign against Obama so stomach-turning.

In his New York Times column on Sunday, Nick Kristof stated that almost one-third of Americans either "know" Obama is a Muslim, or believe he could be. Kristof was shocked to discover that columns he"s written, especially one in which he quotes Obama expressing respect for the Muslim call to prayer, were being used as evidence of his secret Islamic beliefs.

That"s like saying every tourist who strolls by St. Paul"s Cathedral in London is Christian.

Here"s Kristof"s take on this: "Religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it"s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate"s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian."

I remember being asked a similar question on New York Public Radio a few months ago. My response was a bit too optimistic I think. I said that any public figure who suggests any form of racial prejudice against Obama would be flying in the face of a proud American achievement. It would be like spitting on the picture of King marching in Selma. The new prejudice - religion - stands alone, and will be conquered soon.

In other words, I thought we had gotten past the color line, and that it would only be a matter of time before we crossed the faith line as well.

I would answer differently today.

As Kristof states, the campaign to "otherize" Obama has no shame. There is no such thing as below the belt for people like Jerome Corsi, author of the hatchet job "The Obama Nation."

Corsi wrote a bestseller, but that doesn"t give him the last word on this matter. The strategy of linking Barack"s fictitious Muslim-ness with his dark skin might just backfire. After all, America has a creed that makes us proud and a dream to live up to and we don"t like it when people try to gain advantage by violating our precious heritage.

As the dreamer said, "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless
midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

 

 

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