Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bigotry in the blogosphere: Barack Obama and the anti-Muslim paranoia of the right

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Debbie Schlussel is one of the leading bigots of the right-wing blogosphere, so much so that she should be an embarrassment to the thoughtful and sensible conservatives (Ed Morrissey, James Joyner, Steven Taylor, Stephen Bainbridge, Sister Toldjah, etc.) who inhabit that region of our medium.

What is her problem now? Barack Obama's middle name, which happens to be Hussein, and his familial ties to Islam:

[W]hile Obama may not identify as a Muslim, that's not how the Arab and Muslim Streets see it. In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim. He may think he's a Christian, but they do not.

So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?

Astonishing. He may think he's a Christian? What is that supposed to mean? That, no matter his beliefs, he isn't a Christian because his father was Muslim? Schlussel isn't just a bigot, she's a fucking idiot.

What this is really about is Schlussel's paranoid hatred of Muslims, a hatred presumably shared by many others on the right. She doesn't want Obama to be anywhere near the presidency not just because of his middle name and his familiar ties to Islam -- and her attempts at psychological analysis are truly pathetic -- but because she evidently thinks that all Muslims are terrorists who cannot possibly be loyal to America. She claims, after all, that "we" are fighting a war not just against Islamofascists or jihadists or whatever else they may be called but against Islam, against the entire religion.

To be fair to Morrissey et al., I realize that thoughtful and sensible conservatives do not hold this view. And Bush and the warmongers don't hold it either. However much I may disagree with the president on policy, I commend him for stressing that the war on terror is not a war against Islam but a war against a certain renegade element of Islam that is waging war not just against the West, including Israel, but against the majority of its own religion.

But bigots like Schlussel didn't get the message. Their hatred runs deep. Thoughtful and sensible conservatives would do well to distance themselves from them as much as possible lest they be tainted by their bigotry.


UPDATE: And I notice that many of them are. See, for example, this excellent post by Baldilocks. She calls it what it is: bigotry.

And see also Media Matters: "Schlussel's column fits into a larger pattern in the recent media coverage and commentary regarding Obama."

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