Don't expect any apology, retraction, or the standard I was misquoted backpedal from renowned evangelist Franklin Graham for saying that President Obama has the Muslim seed in him. Graham's quip was a response to a question from CNN's John King about the Pew Research Center poll. It found a big increase in the number of Americans that think that Obama's a Muslim. But Franklin had another motive, and the motive had nothing to do with religion, belief, or Obama's genetics, but politics, naked, brutal, and raw politics.
The Obama is a Muslim label carries a special taint, and Franklin knows it. No religious group in America has been more distorted, reviled, and demonized than Muslims. Simply utter the word, and this instantly conjures up for many dark images of bombings, terrorist attacks, war, chaos, destruction, and fanaticism. Muslims have stirred the nativist, xenophobia, and religious intolerance pulse in many Americans that has always lurked just beneath the surface in American life. Politicians have at times played to that impulse and it in turn translated it into a massive religious social revolt, and reaped big gains at the ballot box. The rumor and fear mongering images of Islam and Muslims escalated with the emotion throbbing September 11 terror attacks. The attack stirred tremors among Muslims that they would routinely be targeted, subject to search and surveillance, and profiled at airports.
This was a mere dress rehearsal for Franklin's dump of the Muslim scare on Obama. This has dogged Obama from the first day of his White House tenure. His speeches in Cairo last year to a Muslim and international audience, his repeated preaching of tolerance and outreach to the Muslim world, his occasional tough line on Israeli settlement expansion, and the topper, his White House Ramadan dinner, and a his favorable statement supporting the right to build a mosque at ground zero. This for many was smoking gun proof that Obama is not a closet but an avowed Muslim. Though some GOP political strategists have urged caution about making the Ground Zero Mosque and Obama a campaign issue, the GOP will do it anyway. Fox News, the pack of right wing talk show hosts, and bloggers have had a field day doing everything possible to fan the fire of anti-Muslim sentiment. They have even plopped on the table an outrageously distorted, misstated, and misunderstood discussion of Sharia Law, and declared that any Muslim who believes in it and practices it does not believe in the Constitution and by extension can't be a loyal American. The implication being that since Obama is a Muslim than he must also believe in the strict tenets of Sharia Law and therefore..... The dots have never been more wrongly and badly connected.
Graham didn't wrongly and badly cross the dots out of ignorance, or misguided belief about Obama's birth. Like so many other bible thumping mega preachers, he's a politician hiding behind the good book. Tarring Obama as a born Muslim is a good throw-away line to fire the like minded crowd that he appeals too. The big plus is that it gives them even more zeal to mount another Holy Crusade to the polls in November's mid-term elections and cast out as many of the evil, sacrilegious, terrorist, and anti-American Democrats that they can get their vote on in Congress and elsewhere.
The Muslim seed strategy has already paid two other dividends, both relished by Graham. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and nearly every other run scared Democrat thats facing a rough and tumble reelection fight has fled from Obama's support of the right to build the Mosque.
It's also forced Obama to scramble and profess loudly that he's a devout Christian. It's not an implicit rejection of Islam, but it sends a pleading message that Christianity is the White House's faith of record. The appalling ignorance of so many Americans about Obama's religious beliefs refutes the old adage that religion and politics don't mix. Graham's "Muslim seed" crack about Obama is proof positive of that.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
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