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I've been fairly harsh on Obama recently for what I perceive to be his unwillingness to take a strong policy stand on principle. And I continue to fault Hillary for her disgracefully xenophobic position on the Dubai Ports World deal. However, that doesn't make me unsympathetic to the inevitable smear campaigns to be launched against them - as a former Deaniac, I know the drill. Still, the smears against Dean were elegant in a sense; today's smear against Obama is a clumsy affair. In a nutshell, the Moonies are trying for a two-fer, to take out Clinton and Obama both. Sordid details below the fold.

InsightMag, a Moonie-funded outfit that bills itself as "a unique publication that combines aggressive investigative reporting with off-the-record information" (ie, a smear outfit), broke the following "story" yesterday:

Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?

This is the question Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s camp is asking about Sen. Barack Obama.

An investigation of Mr. Obama by political opponents within the Democratic Party has discovered that Mr. Obama was raised as a Muslim by his stepfather in Indonesia. Sources close to the background check, which has not yet been released, said Mr. Obama, 45, spent at least four years in a so-called Madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia.

"He was a Muslim, but he concealed it," the source said. "His opponents within the Democrats hope this will become a major issue in the campaign."

taqqiya_peewee The story starts out with the Concern Troll, then lays the blame at the feet of Clinton's camp. It delves into the Taqqiya Libel, and then ends with a general accusation of xenophobia against the Democratic Party.

I must note that the charge does have some plausibility. Again, the Democrats did not exactly cover themselves with glory over Dubai Ports World. So there IS a latent xenophobic, Islamophobic strain within the Democratic party (and just mentioning it gets a liberal muslim like myself inexplicably tarred with an accusation of anti-semitism. I'm still scratching my head over that one, since none of this has anything to do with Jews or Israel in any way, shape or form.)

Still, despite the fact that there is a Jafi lurking in the soul of the Democratic Party polity, the accusation doesn't hold water. It's just too convenient that the charge smears Clinton in the eyes of her liberal base far worse than it smears Obama. If anything, it's going to turn conservative audiences against Obama more than liberal ones, so it is playing more to the right than the left. Predictably, has picked it up invoking the global Jihad and even apostasy law (please see Ali Eteraz's rebuttal of the Apostasy Hadith).

In a nutshell then, this appears to be a crude attack, driven by the internal fears and stereotypes of the Right more than a calculated ploy by the Left. Of course, I could be wrong. I hope I am not wrong; but it is up to Hillary's camp to distance themselves from it. This kind of charge cannot be left unanswered. After all, as muslims are repeatedly told, silence and failure to condemn amounts to assent.

Now if you want a smear of Obama that really sticks, check this shizzat out:


The measure of the Islamist Candidate is clearly not length of beard...

Update [2007-1-19 11:53:42 by azizhp]: National Review Online's "Hillary Spot" rises to the occasion. Apparently they believe that it's Obama that needs to "get out ahead" of the story. Bzzzzt! Their uncritical acceptance of the claim that the story originated with Hillary's camp lays to rest any notion of conservvative "bulls&^t detectors".

Update [2007-1-19 12:45:54 by azizhp]: See this earlier diary by The Eyewitness Muse and this similar one by madintexas - apparently the "Obama went to a Wahhabi madrassah" smear has been making email rounds for a while. These smears MUST be responded to and NOT left unchallenged.

Originally posted to Aziz Poonawalla's Amazing Dkos Diary on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 08:40 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  cross-posted at (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    section29, 4Freedom, TomP

    and let me also plug Nation-Building blog (formerly Dean Nation), and City of Brass, while I am at it.

  •  This is old news and rightwing garbage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Go post on a winger site.

    This is

    1. Garbage
    1. Madrassa simply means "School"-- not all "schools" that have muslim children attending train terrorists.  
    1. The next step in this one... that Obama is some sort of Manchurian Candiate and that once elected he'll act on the will of Allah to bring damnation to the US.  

    Interestingly, the Republicans will have their own sideshow of religious bigotry when they start attacking Romney's mormonism.

    Bush will be impeached.

    by jgkojak on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 08:46:31 AM PST

  •  Dubai Ports (0+ / 0-)

    The Dubai Ports this was pure politics.

    You had 80% of the American People against the deal... and yes, they were against it for reasons of bias against arabs.

    BUT... every once in a while a political party has to take a ride on an issue like that- the issue dropped Bush's approval 10 pts in a couple weeks, especially among Republicans.

    AND... the question there isn't whether we should contract with an Arab country... its whether we should outsource ANY nat. security to foreign companies, period.

    Bush will be impeached.

    by jgkojak on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 08:48:40 AM PST

  •  That makes Obama a perfect leader who (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    understands the Muslim mindset, but who is now a religious Christian.

    The Right should be ecstatic, he's been so evasive on Iraq recently. And today's Miami Herald underscores some of Obama's potential appeal.

    For my money, though, Obama's signature asset is not his brains, his looks, or his magnetism. Rather, it's this: He seems reasonable. Though unabashedly liberal, he does not come across as a prisoner of ideology. He seems a man who can be persuaded by logic. It's an attractive trait made more so by the fact that we have seen it so rarely in recent years

    We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. --Albert Einstein

    by 4Freedom on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 08:52:15 AM PST

  •  What nonsense! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    azizhp, TomP

    His supposed association with Islam evidently ended by the age of 10, when he moved back to the United States.  And if his stepfather was such a fundamentalist Muslim, what was he doing permitting his stepson to attend a Catholic school.

    One of the most telling things in the article is the following quote:

    Although Indonesia is regarded as a moderate Muslim state, the U.S. intelligence community has determined that today most of these schools are financed by the Saudi Arabian government and they teach a Wahhabi doctrine that denies the rights of non-Muslims.

    Note:  I've added the emphasis on "today."  It would appear that not even the Moonies are willing to go on the record claiming that most of these schools were financed by the Saudis 35 years ago, which is the latest that Obama would have been attending one of them for a couple of years of elementary school.  

    What the funding of these schools today has to do with the kind of education they would have provided 35 years ago is something that isn't readily apparent to me, even if the assertion that most of them are funded by Saudi Arabia today is correct (which I seriously doubt that it is).  Indonesia is a huge, predominantly Muslim country, and MOST of its schools are going to be predominanly Muslim.  I seriously doubt if even the Saudis have the money to finance most of Indonesia's educational sytem.

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

    by leevank on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 09:30:55 AM PST

  •  Why? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arlingtonian, redlami, YucatanMan, Lepanto

    Why did you have to give this fungal story another exposure to the light of day?
    Eteraz' diary finally dribbled off the list, and you had to go resurrect it.
    Oh, wait, you cross-posted it at It's a relay race.

    Revolutionary words start revolutions

    by Catte Nappe on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 09:34:42 AM PST

  •  I didn't know this BS about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    his Muslim background, but, to me, that makes Obama more attractive, not less. And the apparent fact that he is not now Muslim, should pretty much put a kabosh on attempts to say he's Osama's stalking horse--unless it's because his name rhymes with Osama.

    Will the US replay the fall of Rome?

    by douglassmyth on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 09:46:38 AM PST

  •  Whatever (0+ / 0-)

    Happened to freedom of religion? I read somewhere once or twice that some people came over here to America to escape religious persecution.....

  •  Get the facts and stop repeating lies (0+ / 0-)

    FACT: Barack Obama's Father Was Not Muslim.  Although Obama's father was raised as a Muslim, he was "agnostic" by the time he met Ann Dunham, Obama's mother.

    FACT: Barack Obama's Mother Was Enrolled in the Unitarian Church; Obama Describes Her as a "Secular Humanist."  Obama's maternal grandfather enrolled his family in the local Unitarian Universalist congregation.  Obama describes his mother as a "lonely witness for secular humanism.

    FACT: Lolo Setoro Was Not a Radical Muslim.  The variations in the practice and interpretation of Islam - in a much less strict form than that practiced in the Middle East - in various parts of Indonesia reflect its complex history.  Obama writes that Setoro "followed a brand of Islam that could make room for more ancient...and Hindu faiths."

    FACT: Obama Attended A Local School in Indonesia and then a Roman Catholic School.  When he first moved to Indonesia, Obama's mother did not have the money to send him to the International School, where most of Djakarta's foreign children went. He attended a local school and supplemented his education with US correspondence courses.  After that, he attended a Roman Catholic school.  Recounting the experience, he states that "I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country, so I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and, at night, you'd hear the [Muslim] prayer call."

    FACT: Barack Obama is a Christian. Obama is not shy about saying he has a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ." As a sign of that relationship, he walked down the aisle of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ in response to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's altar call one Sunday morning in 1988.  He also talks about an "ongoing conversation with God."

    (...just saying, get your facts straight before repeating someone else's lies)

    (also, this nonsense was up on Faux News this morning and now DKos is inundated with diaries repeating the false story -- time to take out the troll detectors!!)

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

    by edgery on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 11:20:23 AM PST

    •  dude (0+ / 0-)

      i am not repeating lies. I am lampooning them. is reading comprehension a lost art?

      •  what's that old expression -- (0+ / 0-)

        when you lie down with dogs, don't complain about the fleas?  when you repeat nonsense, you are likely to be lumped in with those who started it.  and your diary lacked sufficient irony, sarcasm or fantastica to be read as a lampoon -- I don't think I'm alone in this view.  Anything that starts on Faux News and Insight needs way more snarkiness than showed up here to distinguish it from its origin.  if you feel like going back and beefing up the satire, I'll reread and reconsider.  thanks.

        "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

        by edgery on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 01:31:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Moon contiues to fvck our system (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The man spends billions turning our political discourse to shit.

    In Chile they did not OK the UC as a religion because they said it created strife within the branches of government. When are people going to realize Moon has had more to do with driving our nation into the gutter the last 25 years than any other right winger - he outspent them all and has bluntly stated he wants democracy replaced.

    I think what FAIR said about the Washington Times - which means all of Moon's media for EVERY front Moon creates is done for a purpose - was about as spot on when discussing Moon's meda's purpose.

    Lynxgate illustrates the power of the Times--a newspaper founded in 1982 as a vehicle to promote the right-wing views of Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church--to promote a conservative agenda and feed it into the mainstream media environment.

    The wingnuts are conditioned to feed off their true savior's propaganda. Moon has been using conservatism as his vehicle to take our nation to hell ever since Reagan told Moon's top aid during the 1980 prez campaign that he "needed Rev. Moon's prayers" and "support"...

    Seems they are just farming out some of the slop to Insight so the WT can sit on the sidelines and whistle - it will rear its fascist head when the time is right and the Republicans will bark on cue...

    People don't understand. they think that if the WT doesn't say "be a moonie today" that somehow it isn't shoving Moon's "theology" down the nation's throat. If fact his "religion" is for the world to be an authoritarian, homophobic, theocratic, anti-science right wing extremism. The theocratic will flourish as the political environment sours.

    "Sun Myung Moon had more to do with conservatism's rise to power than anyone. Anyone!" - moonboots

    by moonboots on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 11:28:53 AM PST

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