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."
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, RedState.com 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.