Leaning to the Left

Writing from a liberal persuasion

Be Very, Very Scared

Posted by Beau Winiger on June 9, 2009

In an article in today’s Washington Times Frank Gaffney says that by “applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America’s first Muslim president”.  Most of the “evidence” for this claim is pulled from President Obama’s recent visit to the Middle East, namely his speech in Cairo.  The article does much to expose the true problem, the Right’s use of terms meant to strike fear into the hearts of Americans.

The first issue is the actual issue being discussed, is Obama really a Muslim?  First off, no.  He’s not.  It doesn’t matter how many times you say he might be, he’s still not.  Does he show respect to a religion that a lot of the world believes in?  Yes, guilty as charged with that heinous crime of showing respect to an ancient religion.  It is a rare thing to hear conservative complain that a politician is showing respect for religion, but perhaps those commentators only have Christianity in mind when they talk about religion.

Those same commentators throw the word Muslim around as if it were a slur, synonymous to terrorist, and are seemingly making the claim that it is perfectly acceptable to judge a religion’s worth by the bad things that it has done.  Islam is no more defined by terrorism than Christianity is defined by the Inquisition.  The fact that a small minority of a population has done evil things doesn’t give you the right to disregard their religion.

And that is the issue that seems to always be overlooked in these reports that Obama is a Muslim, or that Obama sympathizes with Muslims.  Why is no one questioning the use of Muslim as a slur?  I can say with great certainty that if someone were to refer to a politician as Christian, and then use that as an argument against their fitness for office, there would be an outcry.  Yet when the term is Muslim the only discussion seems to center around whether the claim is true.

This attempt by the right to weld the term Muslim to terrorist, and then Muslim to Arab, is nothing more than an appeal to the basest of human emotions.  When times are rough, as the are now, the population becomes fearful, and when a nation is fearful, they want something specific to be scared of, and they usually won’t ask many questions.  And the Right knows that, at this point politically, the only chance they have to turn Obama’s popularity is to make him a scary Muslim secular Arab socialist dictator.

We as a nation have to demand that policy debates no longer be turned into a scare-fest.  While it is true that there are some who respond to these fear tactics, they only respond when the idea is suggested.  Just because you disagree with the president does not give you free reign to state your grievance in terms specifically used to frighten people.  A strong America can only come about by a well-informed populace, and attempts to steer the discussion from facts to scary do little to inform the populace.  Honest discussions need to be had on many different topics, but “Is Obama a Muslim” is certainly not one of those.  I find it hard to believe the Right has America’s best interest at heart when appeals to fear above all else is a rallying cry.

It was fear that allowed the Orwellian Patriot Act to be passed, and now the Right is attempting the same trick in reverse.  If a citizen has already been told what an evil terrorist dictator the current president wants to become, does it really matter anymore what his actual policy decisions are?  If you should be scared, at all times, of the president, then it stands to reason that he will never do anything good.  Our Congress, and some in this nation, let us down when the Patriot Act was passed out of nothing more than blind fear.  That act alone should be more than enough to teach us the perils of allowing fear to rule in politics.

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One Response to “Be Very, Very Scared”

  1. suckonthis said

    I think that America needs a big dose of the approach we have in the UK, when the Christian right-wing fundies start chucking dressed-up racism around to justify their maniacal ideals.

    We laugh at them, and get on with it.

    I sincerely think that if Fox news and other extremist right-wing bullshit mouthpieces were treated with the contempt they deserve by everyone else, they might not make such a big dent in morale. I think the biggest mistake people make is to take them seriously. Indeed, whenever we hear about or see those people over here, it’s kind of like a massive joke to us. If someone tried to be Bill O’Reilly over here he’d be laughed off the set.

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