No Surprise So Many Think Obama’s Muslim

No Surprise So Many Think Obama’s Muslim

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No president has ever had more pejorative labels slapped on him than Barack Obama. He’s been branded a Bolshevik, socialist, Nazi (go figure), an anarchist, leftist, an alien, and of course, un-American.

So it’s no surprise that so many Americans think Obama is a Muslim. This week, a new Pew Research Center poll found a big increase in the number of Republicans who believe this lie. Even a growing number of Democrats and independents think that the president is a Muslim, or at least, not a Christian.

But the Obama-is-a-Muslim tag carries a special taint. No religious group in America is more distorted, reviled, and demonized than Muslims since 9/11. Simply utter the word, and many Americans conjure dark images of bombings, terrorist attacks, war, chaos, destruction, and fanaticism.

The hysteria of Fox News commentators, conservative radio talk show hosts, bloggers and right-wing politicians over events like the Ft. Hood shootings and the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit last Christmas Day are a mere dress rehearsal for the Muslim scare that has dogged President Obama.

His speeches in Cairo last year to a Muslim and international audience, his repeated preaching of tolerance and outreach to the Muslim world, and his occasional tough talk against Israeli settlement expansion all occasioned new rounds of conservative hysteria. Now Obama’s White House Ramadan dinner, at which he supported the right to build a mosque at Ground Zero, has been cited as proof that the president is not a closet Muslim, but an avowed one.

Though some Republican strategists have urged caution about making Obama’s mosque remarks a campaign issue, the GOP will do it anyway. Already, Fox and the rest have done everything possible to fan the fire of anti-Muslim sentiment.

They have even dumped on the table an outrageously distorted discussion of Sharia law and declared that any Muslim who believes in it and practices it does not believe in the U.S. Constitution and, by extension, can’t be a loyal American. The implication being that since Obama is a Muslim, then he must also believe in the strict tenets of Sharia law. The dots have never been more wrongly and badly connected.

Since his initial statements on the Ground Zero mosque, Obama has kept silent on the issue. There’s absolutely no need for him to say anything more about it. The issue will be fiercely debated by politicians and the public in coming weeks.

Expect the Obama foes—and that’s nearly any GOP candidate and incumbent—to try to figure out a way to sneak a line or two about 9/11 and the mosque controversy into their campaign speeches.

But plenty of Democrats have distanced themselves from Obama’s remarks as well, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is facing a tough reelection battle, and former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean.

When even Obama’s own Democratic allies react this way, is it any surprise that Americans are so confused?

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. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: