Today’s Washington Post has the following article: Foes Use Obama’s Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him.
Email messages insinuate that Barack Obama could be a Muslim plant, trained by a grand conspiracy when he lived as a grade school boy in Indonesia. I’m not sure how newsworthy the fact that people are using the powers of the Internet to spread false information is, but I was a bit taken aback by the lengths that conservatives on the airwaves will go to to twist his Muslim connections in unflattering ways (e.g., by mixing up “Obama” and “Osama,” calling him by his middle name, Hussein, suggesting that he attended a madrassa in Indonesia–this last one allegedly from the Clinton campaign.)
Here’s how Obama spins his cross-cultural heritage:
“A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs is not what I just studied in school. It’s actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these other countries live,” he said earlier this month in Clarion, Iowa.
“The day I’m inaugurated, I think this country looks at itself differently, but the world also looks at America differently,” he told another Iowa crowd. “Because I’ve got a grandmother who lives in a little village in Africa without running water or electricity; because I grew up for part of my formative years in Southeast Asia in the largest Muslim country on Earth.”
This is something I can buy in to, based on my own personal experiences. My father is a white man from Kansas who is descended from an indentured servant who came to the U.S. in the 1600s. My mother is native Japanese, Buddhist, and a naturalized U.S. citizen. I grew up on both sides of the Pacific. Though my primary acculturation is as an American (albeit a hapa, Japanese-American), the Japanese comment not only on my bilingualism, but my biculturalism.
With source of so much of the world’s conflicts found in both the cultural divide between the West and Islam and the economic gap between prospering and less-developed countries, I think that merely electing someone with Obama’s culturally and religiously diverse background into the White House would initiate a world of healing.
It’s too bad that people look past the substance and dwell on innuendo founded in bigotry and fear.