Nov 27 2007

What if Barak Obama were a Muslim?

 Apologies all, for plagiarizing some of your earlier thoughts (ie, who would Jesus waterboard?), but I could not let last Sunday’s profoundly ignorant editorial re. Barak Obama go unchallenged.  I just sent in a lengthy response (below and partly cannibalized from earlier posts) and we’ll see if this one gets printed…  Here’s the letter that pushed my buttons:

Dear editor:

A friend recently sent me a photo from the Internet that shows Sen. Obama not saluting during the National Anthem. It is my understanding that he is a devout Muslim and that he refused to be sworn in on the Holy Bible – a 200-year old tradition – when he became a senator for his state. Instead, he took his oath of office on the Koran, the Islamic bible.

 Now he is a frontrunner for the highest office in the land and I’m wondering, should he win the presidency, will he be allowed to be sworn in on that document as well? If he is, then our country will have reached an all-time low. He will not be a president who will uphold our Constitution, our history, nor our way of life. He will defend his own Islamic principles and lead the United States into accepting them as well, or he will not be a true Muslim.

 If that awful scenario comes true, then all of our soldiers would have died for nothing. The brave people of Sept. 11 would become so much fodder under the heels of Obama. With all the prophecies of the Christian Bible coming true, it may very well be that Sen. Obama could be the “Beast” of the Book of Revelation!

Far fetched, you say? Look at the way our country is heading. Congress and other political heads are running scared by declaring God is not important in the life of this great country. They don’t want to offend the Muslims moving here! President Ronald Reagan said it best: “If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

The Rev. Donald Cunningham 

 

Reverend’s recent frenzy of flummery about Barak Obama reminds me of an Ogden Nash poem:

O all ye exorcizers come and exorcize now, and ye clergymen draw nigh and clerge,

For I wish to be purged of an urge.

It is an irksome urge, compounded of nettles and glue… (from “So Does Everybody Else, Only Not So Much”)

A few minutes of fact-checking with Senator Obama’s campaign would have dispelled your willful ignorance about the man.  He speaks more eloquently of his Christian faith than any other presidential candidate, but that inconvenient truth was intentionally omitted from your pantheon of paranoia.  Is there a whiff of racism lingering over your bizarre rant against this American, or has your tortured understanding of Islam completely blinded you?

So what if Barak Obama were a Muslim?  Would your irrational fears and your wild “Left Behind” fantasies about Apocalypse be any more credible?  Here’s what a dying Baptist missionary had to say about Muslims nearly 40 years ago (http://tinyurl.com/28dxgu):  “Islam teaches love of God, supreme loyalty to him, great reverence, and high principles of character … We have centuries of Christian enmity and harshness and rejection of Islam to atone for and undo; we have walls of prejudice built up through the centuries to break down; we have deeply ingrained attitudes in both Christians and Muslims to change.”

Your fear and loathing of Barak Obama sounds like a spin-off of last year’s Faux News hysteria, when Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison took the oath of office on a Koran.  In our country’s history, four presidents have been inaugurated without swearing an oath on the Bible (http://tinyurl.com/2gp9po).  Franklin Pierce was affirmed, and swore no oath, Rutherford Hayes initially had a private ceremony with no Bible before his public ceremony, Theodore Roosevelt had no Bible at his ceremony, and Lyndon Johnson used a missal during his first term.

Linda Lingle, Governor of Hawaii, took the oath of office on a Torah in 2001.  Madeleine Kunin, a Jewish immigrant and Governor of Vermont “rested her left hand on a stack of old prayer books that had belonged to her mother, grandparents, and great grandfather” as “a physical expression of the weight of Jewish history.”  Debbie Wasserman Schultz made headlines last year when she could not find a Hebrew Bible for her swearing in; she refused the Christian Bible proffered by House Speaker Dennis Hastert and eventually borrowed one from Gary Ackerman.

It’s time to see beyond the simple, sanitized views of American history that we were all taught as children.  The truth is always more complicated than the fearmongers and sloganeers would have us believe.  We haven’t been “one nation under God” for a long, long time (if we ever were).  Despite all the religiosity and patriotic chest-thumping, we’ve been ignoring Christian imperatives of peace and justice for as long as we’ve been expanding our American empire.  For example, the truth about water boarding by US forces exists in the records of the invasion and occupation of the Philippines that began in 1898 (http://tinyurl.com/yr34v3).  As we encountered armed resistance by the liberation army (insurgents) of General Emilio Aguinaldo, and sank into a 12-year quagmire on the archipelago, our officers routinely resorted to what they called “the water cure.”  That dirty little war of choice prompted Mark Twain to write his famous “War Prayer” (http://tinyurl.com/2yhog9).

If we’re really “one nation under God” then who would Jesus water board?  Would he agree with Dick “itchy-finger” Cheney that water boarding is not torture but just a harmless “dunk in water?”  If you can’t divine from the New Testament whether water boarding rightly belongs on the CIA’s list of approved “enhanced interrogation techniques” then watch Kaj Larson’s video and decide for yourself (http://tinyurl.com/ytkhrb).  Once you come to terms with the reality of torture, and quit playing word games to mollify your sensibilities, the next question is whether or not torture harvests useful intelligence or is just indulging the sadistic impulses of some of our freakier interrogators.  Our stalled crusade in Iraq and Afghanistan suggests that after more than five years, we still do not have high-fidelity information about those who we have chosen to fight.

If ignorance is the type of bliss you seek, never question the e-mails your friends send.  Limit yourself to a highly-redacted diet of Faux News and other cleansed propaganda.  Do not investigate the agendas behind the men who write the books you love to cite.  Do not question who funds the foundations and think tanks and web sites that are unending sources of intentional misinformation.  Show your patriotism by pinning yourself with an American Flag made in China.  Above all, eschew every contrary point of view that seeps into your whitewashed world; it might just be the truth that sets you free.

Signed, accidental Arabist but Baptist by choice

Permanent link to this article: http://levantium.com/2007/11/27/what-if-barak-obama-were-a-muslim/

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