Op-Ed Columnist - The Push to ‘Otherize’ Obama - Kristof - NYTimes.comWell, at least Obama isn't being accused of atheism. That would be really serious. Being the anti-Christ ain't so bad.
... a McCain commercial last month mimicked the words and imagery of the best-selling Christian “Left Behind” book series in ways that would have set off alarm bells among evangelicals nervous about the Antichrist.
Mr. McCain himself is not popular with evangelicals. But they will vote for him if they think the other guy may be on Satan’s side.
In fact, of course, Mr. Obama took his oath on the Bible, not — as the rumors have it — on the Koran. He is far more active in church than John McCain is.
(Just imagine for a moment if it were the black candidate in this election, rather than the white candidate, who was born in Central America, was an indifferent churchgoer, had graduated near the bottom of his university class, had dumped his first wife, had regularly displayed an explosive and profane temper, and had referred to the Pakistani-Iraqi border ...)
What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.
The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him...
... I’m writing in part out of a sense of personal responsibility. Those who suggest that Mr. Obama is a Muslim — as if that in itself were wrong — regularly cite my own columns, especially an interview last year in which I asked him about Islam and his boyhood in Indonesia. In that interview, Mr. Obama praised the Arabic call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset,” and he repeated the opening of it.
This should surprise no one: the call to prayer blasts from mosque loudspeakers five times a day, and Mr. Obama would have had to have been deaf not to learn the words as a child. But critics, like Jerome Corsi, whose book denouncing Mr. Obama, “The Obama Nation,” is No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list, quote from that column to argue that Mr. Obama has mysterious ties to Islam. I feel a particular obligation not to let my own writing be twisted so as to inflame bigotry and xenophobia.
Journalists need to do more than call the play-by-play this election cycle. We also need to blow the whistle on such egregious fouls calculated to undermine the political process and magnify the ugliest prejudices that our nation has done so much to overcome.
There are only two interesting aspects to the late-to-the-game Kristof column. One is that he's right that the religious ploy is a great proxy for racial prejudice. My opinion of the religious right can't really get any lower though; their enthusiasm for torture in the name of the Savior Bush pretty much dropped 'em into my eternal pit of fire.
The more important point is his belated call that journalists need to stop the play-by-play and start calling foul. Too little, probably too late, but it's progress of a sort. It moves Kristof a good step above the Friedman/Dowd basement.
Incidentally, I was amazed to discover that there's a segment of the "right" that thinks Jerome Corsi is "embarrassing for the Right, embarrassing for Republicans, embarrassing for conservatives and libertarians, embarrassing for all of us". Not bad from someone belonging to a social movement striving to destroy civilization. Of course if they were really serious they'd be campaigning for Obama, so that upon losing power the GOP would start to rebuild and reform.
Update 9/22/08: The McCain campaign freaks out. They don't like journalists who point out that their pants are on fire.
Sen. John McCain’s top campaign aides convened a conference call today to complain of being called “liars.” They pressed the media to scrutinize specific elements of Sen. Barack Obama’s record.Heh, heh, heh. They're worried. This is good.
But the call was so rife with simple, often inexplicable misstatements of fact that it may have had the opposite effect: to deepen the perception, dangerous to McCain, that he and his aides have little regard for factual accuracy...