If at First
You Can’t Smear . . .
have decided that, robbed of concrete reasons to attack presidential
candidate Barack Obama, they will go after the senator’s religion. They
just can’t seem to decide which religion that is. Because if at first
you don’t succeed . . .
remember that the earlier smear, invented by the Moonie-affiliated
Insight magazine in December and spread by blogger Debbie Schlussel,
was that Obama, when growing up as a pre-teen in Indonesia, had attended
an Islamic Madrassah, which may have had ties to known terrorists.
large part to a strong and forceful response by Obama himself (and some
fine work from CNN as well), the story was shown to be demonstrably
false. Then, those behind the smear went to Plan B – changing the
subject to the Hillary Clinton campaign having “planted” the story -
even though there’s no evidence of that ever having happened, either.
his entire adult life, has been a committed Christian and belonged to a
church in Chicago, so whichever religious school he had or hadn’t
attended prior to turning ten is probably neither hear nor there. But
regardless, having thrown in the towel on the “Muslim” claim,
conservatives are now going after Obama for his Christianity.
February 21 column on the looney tunes website World Net Daily, writer
Erik Rush found some quotes on the web site of the
Obama attends in Chicago, the
United Church of
column and a February 28 interview on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes,” Rush
claimed that this church embraces black supremacy and separatism, and
Sean Hannity went so far as to compare it to a cult.
this? Because the church’s website says that it supports "commitment to
God, commitment to the black community, commitment to the black family
and adherence to the black work ethic." Clearly our nation must be
defended from such evil, subversive, far-left-wing ideas.
commitment to Christianity, family and work exactly what conservatives
have been recommending for black America for decades? Did Rush not
notice that the words “separatism” and “supremacy” appear nowhere on the
site? And furthermore, isn’t racial separatism and divisiveness pretty
much the exact opposite of everything Barack Obama has ever said, done,
written or stood for in his entire career?
African-American church is one with an historic, beautiful tradition in
this country. It played, of course, an instrumental role in the Civil
Rights movement, and has been a major organizing institution of black
American communities for the entirety of American history. To slam a
church with values in tune with that tradition as “divisive” and
“separatist” is an insult not only to the members of that church and
that denomination, but the institution of the black church in general.
For all of
the Bush years, it’s been a conservative meme that Democrats are 100
percent secular, disrespect people of faith, are against the religious
right because they hate Christians, use the culture wars to promote
divisiveness, are “godless,” are the “party of death” and want religion
to have no role in public life or American culture whatsoever.
comes a Democratic candidate who is a man of genuine faith, one of
Christian faith, and is open about the fact that much of his political
worldview is informed by his religious beliefs. And in doing this, he
proposes a politics that is based principally on bringing people
together. So how do the Republicans react? First, they claim he’s a
stealth Muslim. Then, they call his Christianity inauthentic, if not
Republicans ran against John Kerry in 2004 by pretending he was Michael
Moore, the strategy of the Hannity right for ’08 is apparently to
pretend Obama is Louis Farrakhan.
this meme has gotten very little traction since the column, with even
the most conservative blogs largely ignoring it. It may be because Rush,
the columnist, was thoroughly out-argued on Fox by Alan Colmes, a man
notorious for not thoroughly out-arguing anybody. Or maybe the GOP, the
party that (among other things) largely rejects the existence of global
warming and evolution has finally, at last, found a position that’s
actually too indefensible to hold.
think the “Obama is a Muslim” attack would be topped anytime soon for
pure vileness in American political discourse. But it only took about
two months. And with 19 months to go until Election Day ‘08, I’m sure
the worst is yet to come. Maybe next time they’ll call him Jewish.
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