micro-Islamophobia, macro-Islamophobia

Via Tariq Nelson, a very disturbing expose of deeply ingrained Islamophobia in conservative country.

The segment was filmed in Waco, Texas. I have to stress that while living in Houston, the vast majority of Texans I met were true to the hospitality tradition, respectful of my differences and spirituality. The incidence of attitudes like the ones depicted in the video are rare, though less rare outside the major cities than within. That said, I have been called raghead, camel jockey, etc and spit upon and told to go back where I came from (Chicago?). Those incidents - in Houston - were few and insignificant compared to 9 years of living there.

Even though it is still a rare (though increasing) phenomenon in the social landscape, Islamophobia is unfortunately an embedded part of the American politicsl landscape. If the above example is a micro-example, then the treatment of Obama is a macro-example, as noted in the jerusalem Post:

Some of the dirtiest attacks against Barack Obama are being carried out by Jewish bigots in the US and Israel, and if Obama is the Democrat's candidate for president, which looks very likely, these smears are going to get a lot worse.
[Sen. Barack Obama (right)...]

It's not a whispering campaign, it's not anonymous; Marc Zell, co-chairman of Republicans Abroad in Israel, put his name to an article in The Jerusalem Post's Web edition last week that brands Obama as a Muslim anti-Semite.

"Obama and the Jews" begins: "Less than two weeks before the critical primary elections in Ohio and Texas, Democratic voters have made it very clear: Barack Hussein Obama is for real."

Why would a Republican activist mention Obama's middle name, especially in the first sentence, especially to readers of The Jerusalem Post? Everyone knows the reason, but I'll spell it out anyway: To reinforce the false impression that Obama is a Muslim, knowing that many readers, Jewish and Christian, will hate and fear him for that reason alone.

That same wink-wink-Obama-Hussein insinuation is made constantly at RedState, the premier Republican web community. Here's just one example - their latest rhetorical strategy is to simply pretend that the furor is over middle names and that Obama should be "proud". (I agree that Obama should not repudiate his muslim connection and stand up for muslims in the classic "not that there's anything wrong with that" sense - just not right this moment.) However other Republicans are not nearly as subtle or sophisticated in their bigitry-enabling. Case in point, Tennessee blogger Bill Hobbs, who works for the TN GOP and who penned this unbelievable screed against Obama, labeling him an anti-semite on the basis of his middle name. Just a flavor from the lede:

NASHVILLE, TN - The Tennessee Republican Party today joins a growing chorus of Americans concerned about the future of the nation of Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East, if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States.

“It’s time to set the record straight about Barack Obama and where he really stands on vital issues such as national security and the security of Israel,” said Robin Smith, chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. “Voters need to know about two items that surfaced today which strongly suggest that an Obama presidency will view Israel as a problem rather than a partner for peace in the Middle East.

the whole thing is even worse. So much worse, that it was pulled from the TN GOP website, though Google Cache still has the record. And as Obama gets closer to the nomination, and the Presidency, watch for this to increase. The cycle is the same - smear, retract, deny - but each time it makes an appearance, damage is done, not just to Obama but also to ordinary muslim Americans. The video I linked to at teh top of this post is an example of where attitudes towards Muslims are now - a fringe attitude, but one that is headed for mainstream, in no small part because of jafis like Bill Hobbs.

Who would have thought that the first Black President of the United States would face not racial, but religious prejudice as his primary obstacle? I guess that counts as progress, of sorts. At least we know that the terrorists don't want Obama to win.

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