Written by Daniel Greenfield
The media is all worked up over a poll that shows the majority of Americans don't think Obama is a Christians and nearly a 1/4 of Americans think that Obama is a Muslim. Naturally the "mainstream" conservative blogs are embarrassed by these results. Politico is calling it a new Birtherism. Left unasked is the question of why people might think that.
There's Obama own statements on the topic in which he emphasized his family connections to Islam. This is what he said in Turkey;
Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country - I know, because I am one of them.
This is what he said later in Cairo
"Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk."
This time Obama included the mention that he is a Christian, but his emphasis was still on Islam.
There was Obama saying in an interview that he had a basically Muslim childhood...
"I was a little Jakarta street kid," he said in a wide-ranging interview in his office. He once got in trouble for making faces during Koran study classes in his elementary school, but a president is less likely to stereotype Muslims as fanatics -- and more likely to be aware of their nationalism -- if he once studied the Koran with them.
Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it'll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset."
There Obama was also documented as attending a mosque and his religion was listed as Islam.
In short, Obama's family on his father's side is Muslim. He grew up with a Muslim stepfather in a Muslim country. Then he went to Trinity Church and found a mentor there in the form of Jeremiah Wright. Wright was a former Black Muslim, his sermons still sound more Muslim than Christian, with their rantings about America, and obvious bigotry. Obama's church was Muslim influenced, which may have attracted him to it and to Wright.
Take all this together, and it's not too surprising why some people would have the perception that Obama is Muslim, in part or in whole.
The media would like to pretend that this is a smear and bigoted. Some of the "mainstream" conservative blogs would like to pretend it's stupid and contemptible. But Obama himself created the problem, by being vague and misleading. When speaking to Americans, he emphasized his Christianity. When speaking to Muslims, he emphasized Islam. Both sets of audiences could be forgiven for thinking that Obama was feeding them an identity that they would find more compatible.
Obama tried to use his Muslim background to bolster his foreign policy credibility to the likes of Kristoff. But as it turned out, he's actually quite bad at the foreign policy thing, and his invocation of a Muslim background only came back to bite him in the ass. When the man himself variously emphasized and deemphasized his Muslim ties when politically convenient, it's not surprising that he has spawned some confusion in that regard.
Then there's Obama's own middle name, Hussein, which generally references Hussein Ibn Ali, Mohammed's grandson and a revered figure within Islam. Obama was given that name supposedly in honor of his own Muslim grandfather.
With all this litany of available material, it's not too surprising that many people think that Obama might be a Muslim. Or aren't sure what he is.
Let's take a look at John Kerry for a moment. Kerry did have a Jewish grandfather, but few people thought that Kerry himself was Jewish. On the other hand quite a number of people thought that Barry Goldwater was Jewish. Both Kerry and Goldwater had Jews in their paternal line, neither were Jewish themselves. Goldwater however had a vaguely Jewish sounding last name, Kerry doesn't.
However if Kerry's middle name was Shlomo, and he spent a whole lot of time discussing a childhood in Israel and his affinity for Judaism-- people would hardly be blamed for thinking that he might be Jewish. That isn't bigotry, it's reality.
By labeling the perception that Obama is a Muslim, a "smear", the media is implicitly suggesting that to be thought a Muslim is a bad thing. Yet isn't that exactly the kind of bigotry, the press takes great care to condemn?
If Obama being a Muslim is as value neutral as him liking Chinese food, then why get all hysterical over the perception? A perception that Obama himself has fed by repeatedly mentioning his ties to Islam. When some thought that Goldwater was Jewish, the media did not launch into a crazed frenzy of accusations about bigotry. Goldwater himself simply stated that he was not Jewish. His campaign did not label such claims, a smear. Nor did Goldwater feel the need to assure everyone that he prays in a church every day.
What Obama is experiencing is more akin to what George Allen experienced, (that was a case where the media overtly used a Jewish background as a smear against a Republican), and Obama's situation, like Allen's, is of his own making. Obama like Allen hides his background. Unlike Allen, Obama also displays it selectively when it's convenient. That leads to a schizophrenic approach that leaves people confused.
For example the media insists that using Obama's middle name is an act of bigotry. Obama doesn't use it himself and dropped it. Yet when Obama gives a speech in a Muslim country, he uses Hussein. This sends a completely schizophrenic message, that his middle name is a bad thing in America, but a good one in the Muslim world.
It's no wonder that this kind of thing causes people to wonder just who and what Obama really is. Because if Obama himself seems a tad ambiguous on the subject, what conclusions can the public be expected to draw?
Finally as to the question of is Obama a Muslim? In Muslim eyes he might well be, since he recited the Shahada and still remembers it by heart. That declaration is what it takes to become a Muslim. Under Muslim rule, Jews were convicted of heresy and executed, on the mere accusation by a Muslim that they had recited it.
Here for example is the case of a Jewish girl from 1853
c. 1853: E.L. MITFORD from "Appeal in Behalf of the Jewish Nation"
"I will narrate a case which took place at Tangier, and with which I was, therefore, well acquainted. The individual sufferer was an interesting Jewess, of respectable family, residing at Tangier; and much is it to be regretted that our Consul-General had not influence--or, if he did possess any, that he did not exert it--to avert the horrid catastrophe.
This young creature was summoned before the Cadi, by two Moors, who deposed to her having pronounced their confession of faith. This, however, she utterly denied, but in vain; and the Cadi had no alternative, even had he possessed the inclination, but to decree her conformity to Islamism, on pain of death. I was never able to obtain correct information as to whether the witnesses were actuated by sinister motives, or whether the poor girl really did repeat the fatal words in jest. There is, doubtless, much friendly intercourse between the Jews and the better-disposed Moors, in which gossip and jesting are sometimes carried beyond the verge of safety...
The Jews came forward with offers of immense sums of money to save her, but her fate was irrevocably decided, and the only mercy the baffled tyrant could afford his young and innocent victim, was to allow of her being decapitated, instead of being burnt alive. I had an account of the closing scene from an eyewitness, who was one of the guards at the execution--and although, as a body, there is nowhere a more dissolute set of irregular soldiery than the Morocco Moors, yet he confessed to me that many of his vice-hardened companions could not restrain their tears, and that he himself could not look with dry eyes on a sight of such cold-blooded atrocity.
This beautiful young creature was led out to where a pile ready for firing had been raised for her last couch, her long, dark hair flowing disheveled over her shoulders, she looked around in vain for a heart and hand that could succor, though so many eyes pitied her; for the last time she was offered--with the executioner and the pyre in all their terror before her--her life, on condition of being false to her G-d; she only asked for a few minutes for prayer, after which her throat was cut by the executioner, according the barbarous custom of the country, and her body consumed on the fire."
The mere supposed utterance of those words that Obama describes as the most beautiful sound on earth, was enough to doom her to a horrible death. Under Islamic law. (This while in the United States, freedom of conscience had long ago been enshrined into law.)
So from a Muslim perspective, Obama is either a Muslim or a heretic. And heresy carries a high price.
But what does Obama himself think? I doubt very much that Obama has a hidden prayer rug he takes out several times a day. I don't think that Obama is either Muslim or Christian in the religious sense.
However culturally, Obama is more Muslim than he is Christian. Because religion is also culture. And growing up in a religion, shapes you culturally, not just spiritually. Had Obama grown up a Catholic or a Buddhist, he would undeniably see the world somewhat differently than he does today. I doubt that Obama himself would deny that. Indeed Obama has repeatedly boasted about his cultural exposure. But cultural exposure works both ways.
You do not just look out at a culture, you are also shaped by it. As Obama has been. So while Obama is not a Muslim, he has been influenced culturally by the Muslim world. That is what he tried to bill as an asset. And it is part of why his statements to Americans feel off, and why some Americans question where his allegiance lies. The media can choose to call this bigotry, but had the President of the United States during WW2, been raised in Germany, Japan or Russia-- similar questions would have been asked. And such questions are not unreasonable in a time of war.
Obama's doubletalk and the media's paranoid reaction of shrieking that everyone is a bigot has done the rest, feeding the perception that there is a cover-up. And that can be laid at the door of Obama and his own media backers.
The media meanwhile is sticking to its narrative on the Ground Zero Mosque. AP has issued a political style guide to insure a properly politically correct description of the mosque. Frank Gaffney at BigPeace fact checks them.
Interestingly, among those who formerly used the now-proscribed descriptor "Ground Zero mosque" is none other than Feisal Abdul Rauf, its imam and chief promoter. He called it that even though the proposed venue has always been two blocks away from the World Trade Center site.
Perhaps Rauf used this moniker because his planned location for the mosque was part of the real estate attacked and damaged on 9/11 - the home of the Burlington Coat Factory until it was struck by a landing gear from a plane that struck one of the Twin Towers. Perhaps he used that term to brand his "Cordoba House" because body parts from the victims of those attacks have been found all over Lower Manhattan, including the old Burlington factory area, making it part of the hallowed ground.
Or perhaps, Imam Rauf called his project the Ground Zero mosque because he wanted to associate his 15-story, $100 million complex as closely as possible to the location where nearly 3,000 Americans and other innocent people - precisely because they were murdered there by people who wanted, as he does, to "bring shariah to America."
The last explanation would certainly conform to the triumphalist past practice of adherents to shariah, the barbaric, totalitarian political program that masquerades as a religion. Indeed, there is a tradition of constructing mosques at the site of previous Islamic conquests for example in Jerusalem, Istanbul and Cordoba, Spain. (See www.NoMosqueAtGroundZero.com). Yes, it was for Cordoba - where a Catholic church was converted into the world's third largest mosque by the Moorish conquerors of Spain - that Rauf wanted initially to name his Ground Zero mosque.
And while the media tries to practice its "art of silencing", construction workers are saying they will refuse to work on this project.
A growing number of New York construction workers are vowing not to work on the mosque planned near Ground Zero.
"It's a very touchy thing because they want to do this on sacred ground," said Dave Kaiser, 38, a blaster who is working to rebuild the World Trade Center site.
"I wouldn't work there, especially after I found out about what the imam said about U.S. policy being responsible for 9/11," Kaiser said.
The grass-roots movement is gaining momentum on the Internet. One construction worker created the "Hard Hat Pledge" on his blog and asked others to vow not to work on the project if it stays on Park Place.
"Thousands of people are signing up from all over the country," said creator Andy Sullivan, a construction worker from Brooklyn. "People who sell glass, steel, lumber, insurance. They are all refusing to do work if they build there."
"Hopefully, this will be a tool to get them to move it," he said. "I got a problem with this ostentatious building looming over Ground Zero."
But I'm sure the AP executives over in midtown Manhattan have a much better grasp of the mosque's location than the construction workers who are right on the spot.
Meanwhile the overall media narrative is that everyone who thinks the mosque is in poor taste is a crazed bigot. Of course neither the media, nor Keith "First they came for the Communists" Olbermann have anything to say about genuine horrors and atrocities like this.
On July 22, a group of madrassa (Islamic school) students gang-raped a 12-year-old Christian girl in Gujar Khan, Rawalpindi district. A teacher who reportedly witnessed the rape stated:
"Three or four Christian girls were washing dishes near a pond.... These guys ran towards them, and the girls started running. One of them fell on the ground, and these madrassa students got hold of her and took her in the fields. I tried to stop them, but they were 15-16 in number."
But no instead we have the media getting outraged because people are offended by a mosque near the place where Muslims murdered 3000 people in the name of Islam. Or a Disney employee who wants to wear a Hijab. Or a pig's head left outside of a mosque. The Telegraph actually calls this incident "a serious racist attack".
Personally I don't consider an act in which no one was injured and which there wasn't even any property damage to be a serious attack. On the other hand murders, rapes and synagogue burnings seem like actual "serious racist attacks".
Meanwhile Rauf himself has been tied to what even a dishonest press should admit is "extremism"
Now Feisal Abdul Rauf seeks to follow in his father's footsteps with the Park 51 project -- the so-called Ground Zero mosque -- and appears to be following the course set by his father,
The younger Rauf has said he plans to get the $100 million he needs from Islamic nations.
The elder Rauf, who taught in Cairo and Kuwaiti universities before migrating to New York City in 1965, wasn't satisfied with converted storefronts and assembly halls that Muslims had been using.
With $1.3 million in Kuwaiti, Saudi and Libyan cash, he purchased apartment buildings on the corner of Third Avenue and East 96th Street.
For the next 20 years, the elder Rauf, who died in 2004 at age 87, compiled building permits from the city, reached out to public officials -- and, finding local donations anemic, he toured the Islamic world to secure funding.
Ultimately, money poured in from individuals and governments in 46 nations.
The project, however, was still beset by controversy. Governments of the various donor countries vied for influence, and architect Aly Dadras was fired, allegedly because he hired a Jewish-owned firm as a technical consultant, according to news reports.
In October 2001, the mosque's imam, Sheik Muhammad Gemeaha, blamed the 9/11 attacks on Jews. He then immediately resigned and returned to his native Egypt.
The next month, his replacement, Imam Omar Saleem Abu-Namous, said he needed proof that Islamic extremists were behind the attack.
Sounds familiar doesn't it. A real estate buying spree in Manhattan funded by terrorist supporting regimes leads to a hatefilled mosque. Like father, like son.
And Jack Kemp reminds us how tolerant some of the signage on Manhattan mosques can get
Anyone really want this near Ground Zero?
But speaking of Islamist takeovers of other people's holy sites by attempting to build mosques on them, both of Israel's Chief Rabbis have issued a call to rebuild Joseph's Tomb, which was taken over by Muslims.
In the early days of the al-Aqsa Intifada, on the morning of October 7, 2000, Israel withdrew the small contingent of IDF border policemen who had been guarding the site of the Tomb of the Patriarch Joseph and its Yeshiva. The holy site was located in Shechem in Samaria, the town the Arabs call "Nablus". Over the preceding days, the Tomb had been attacked with gunfire, stones, and firebombs. The IDF defenders in the compound withstood the attacks and stopped several attempts by armed Palestinians to break in. An IDF border policemen was wounded, and the heavy rioting prevented his evacuation for treatment in time to save his life.
In order to prevent further loss of life and to lower tensions in the area, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak authorized the temporary evacuation of the site, based on the agreement of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to safeguard the location, in accordance with their obligations under the Oslo Accords to protect holy sites, Jewish and Christian, and ensure access by all. The PA also pledged to prevent any vandalism and to return the Tomb to its original state after the violence settled down.
The PA pledge was brazenly violated about two hours after the Israeli evacuation, when a Palestinian Arab mob entered the Tomb compound and began to systematically destroy everything in sight, including all remnants of the Yeshiva. The furniture and books that were left behind were burned by the mob. The Palestinian police stood by, failing to prevent any of these violent activities, despite their commitment to guard the Tomb. Within hours, Joseph's Tomb was reduced to a smoldering heap of rubble. Within two days, as an Associated Press dispatch reported, "the dome of the tomb was painted green and bulldozers were seen clearing the surrounding area," as the Palestinian Arabs sought to transform the biblical Joseph's resting place into a Moslem holy site.
Israel's withdrawal from the site was later understood as a grave strategic error. It marked the first time that the IDF had withdrawn under fire, surrendering territory to Palestinian Arab violence. Coming barely a week after the start of the al-Aqsa Intifada, the retreat from Joseph's Tomb sent a dangerous signal to Yasser Arafat, confirming that violence would force Israel to capitulate.
Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger issued a joint call Thursday to rebuild Joseph's Tomb (Kever Yosef) in Samaria. The tomb, which contains the remains of the Biblical Joseph, has been seriously damaged by Palestinian Authority vandals.
Except the agreement requires PA consent and so the site remains held hostage. Naturally the media will not be reporting on this.
In other good news, Putin will be sending 50 armored vehicles to the PA. Because just giving Iran nukes isn't enough...
Sheik Yermani at Winds of Jihad notes that the 100 million dollar cost of the mosque could sure pay for a lot of flood relief in Pakistan. But of course as usual it's the gullible infidels who will pick up the tab, for a country where 59 percent of the population thinks we're the enemy, while they finance mosques near Ground Zero.
A recent July poll conducted by the Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project showed that 17 percent of Pakistanis held a favorable opinion of the United States, with 59 percent actually describing the United States as an "enemy."
Speaking of "The Enemy", Jodie Evans of Code Pink will be holding a fundraiser for Jerry Brown.
She and her group, Code Pink, are partners with the terrorist group Hamas and they are the generous donors of some $600,000 of "humanitarian aid" to terrorists fighting American troops in Iraq.
In between planning for Jerry Brown's fund-raiser, Evans helped organize the Gaza flotilla that fought against Israeli military. Her wingman was William Ayers, the homegrown terrorist who co-founded the Weather Underground, which bombed the Pentagon and other government buildings before radical Muslims finished off the job in 2001. All are Friends of Obama.
For those in the appropriate part of California, Move America Forward will be conducting a protest
We'll be at Evans' home before the event which begins at 4 p.m.Saturday at 757 Palms Blvd., Venice, Calif. For more information go to www.moveamericaforward.com.
But as far as I can tell, the revolution in the way scholars think about facts, arguments, and truth has not yet had the slightest impact on the manner in which Jews and friends of Israel think about the progressive delegitimization of the Jewish state in the international arena. Indeed, most of the concerned individuals I speak with are still convinced that if only certain facts were better known-or better presented-Israel's circumstances could be improved dramatically.
Unfortunately, I don't think this is right. Media battles such as the one over the Turkish ship off Gaza are necessary for Israel's short-term defense, and we had better do our best to win them by presenting the facts as best we are able. But I think that Kuhn's argument makes it clear that the outcomes of these contests won't have any real impact on the overall trajectory of Israel's standing among educated people in the West. This standing has been deteriorating for the past generation, not because of this or that set of facts, but because the paradigm through which educated Westerners are looking at Israel has shifted. We've been watching the transition from one paradigm to another on everything having to do with Israel's legitimacy as a sovereign nation. So long as we don't understand this well, we won't really understand what's going on, and we won't be able to do anything to really improve things.
What's the old paradigm? And what's the new one to which the international arena is shifting?
Let's begin with the old paradigm, which is the one that granted Israel its legitimacy in the first place. The modern state of Israel was founded, both constitutionally and in terms of the understanding of the international community, as a nation-state, the state of the Jewish people. This is to say that it is the offspring of an early modern movement that understood the freedom of peoples as depending on a right to self-protection against the predations of international empires speaking in the name of a presumed higher authority. And while there have always been nation-states-the Jewish kingdom of the Bible was the most important classical example-the modern history of the national state focuses on the rise of nation-states such as England and the Netherlands, and subsequently Richelieu's France, whose self-understanding as sovereign nations was sharpened and consolidated during the long struggle to liberate their peoples from the pretensions to universal empire of the Austro-Spanish Habsburgs (that is, the "Holy Roman Empire") beginning in the mid-1500s. What made the defeat of the Spanish "Armada" by Elizabeth in 1588 a turning point in mankind's history was precisely the fact that in turning away Phillip II's bid to rule England, she also made solid the freedom (or "self-determination") of peoples from the Austro-Spanish claim to a right to rule mankind as sole protector of the universal Catholic faith.
The defeat of the universalist ideal in the Thirty Years' War in 1648 led to the establishment of a new paradigm for European politics-one in which a revitalized concept of the national state held the key to the freedom of peoples throughout Europe. By the late-1800s, this idea of national liberty had been extended to the point that it was conceived not only as a governing principle for Europe, but for the entire world. Progressives such as John Stuart Mill and Woodrow Wilson championed the sovereign nation-state, which would have the right to defend its form of government, laws, religion and language against the tyranny of imperial actors, as the cornerstone of what was ultimately to be a new political order for humanity. Herzl's Zionist Organization, which proposed a sovereign state for the Jewish people, fit right into this political understanding-and indeed, it was under British sponsorship that the idea of the Jewish state grew to fruition. In 1947, the United Nations voted by a 2/3 majority for the establishment of a "Jewish State" in Palestine. And the birth of Israel was followed by the establishment of dozens of additional independent states throughout the Third World.
But the idea of the nation-state has not flourished in the period since the establishment of Israel. On the contrary, it has pretty much collapsed. With the drive toward European Union, the nations of Europe have established a new paradigm in which the sovereign nation-state is no longer seen as holding the key to the well-being of humanity. On the contrary, the independent nation-state is now seen by many intellectuals and political figures in Europe as a source of incalculable evil, while the multinational empire-the form of government which John Stuart Mill had singled out as the very epitome of despotism-is now being mentioned time and again with fondness as a model for a post-national humanity. Moreover, this new paradigm is aggressively advancing into mainstream political discourse in other nations as well-even in countries such as the United States and Israel.
Why is this happening? How is it that so many French, Germans, English, Dutch and others are now willing to lend a hand in dismantling the states in which they live, and to exchanging them for the rule of an international regime?
One thing that Yoram Hazony fails to address though is why Israel is specifically the target, rather than much more oppressive nation states. It isn't just nation states that the left hates, it's First World nation states.
David Isaac takes issue with my piece It's Not the Hasbara, It's Reality, but he misses my point. My point is not that Israel shouldn't make the case for itself, it's that what matters is winning the war, not the PR war.
Greenfield's recipe: First win the fight, then kickstart hasbara. But hasbara efforts must be an integral part of winning the fight. Israel has yet to take the propaganda war to its enemies - Shmuel described Israel's efforts to date as a skiff taking on a battleship - and the result has seriously weakened Israel's ability to wage traditional war.
It's not hard to think of examples. Take Israel's self-limiting response to attack, such as stringent rules of engagement. Recently, Israeli soldiers were told they couldn't open fire, even in the air, at Arabs who were stoning them. During the flotilla episode, Israeli soldiers boarded with paintball guns.
But Hasbara is a big part of the reason for restrictive rules of engagement in the first place. Which only proves my point.
Finally the Coulter vs Farrah issue. Yes a lot of conservative blogs are taking Coulter's side. But this is a case where Farrah chose to remain true to his values, Coulter demonstrated that she didn't have any to begin with. The issue isn't gay rights, as much as it is having values, whatever they may be, instead of talking points. Coulter finds religion convenient as a standard against which to measure others, but not herself. Farrah would have been a hypocrite had he not done what he did. Coulter is a hypocrite.
I'm not Farrah's biggest fan, but berating him is not going to change that. Conservatives may choose to overlook the dramatic gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to Coulter. But that kind of thing ends badly, sooner or later.
She also offers up the right shtick on "Politically Incorrect" on the Comedy Central cable channel. "If Hillary is indicted, can Al Gore become First Lady?" she asks wide-eyed as Betty Boop, stooping to labor in Washington's industry of recycling politics into amusement.
If Arianna Huffington has her way, such a scene -- now just a product of her imagination -- will soon be part of a groundbreaking television program titled, no kidding, "Beat the Press." What she wants is a clean shot at those Philistines of the elite media. And these days, whatever Arianna wants, Arianna gets.
Tweaking Newt [Gingrich] is one sure way to get Huffington's dander up. She and the new House speaker have shared the airwaves on National Empowerment Television (NET), a conservative cable network owned by Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation that now reaches 17 million homes. According to an NET spokesman, Huffington pulled the plug on her weekly interview show "Critical Mass" last December, after a yearlong run for which she footed the bill. And Newsweek reported that she and Newt recently hobnobbed at a $50,000-a-plate NET Washington fund-raiser during which a clearly invigorated Huffington proposed that the ante be upped to $500,000-a-pop at the next bash....
"It's time to bring God into the public square,"Arianna Huffington said two weeks ago, lecturing on the principles of her new book before a Republican women's conference.
That wonderful conservative lady was Arianna Huffington back in the 90's. Values, who needs them anyway