Obama's alleged Muslim ties.
Media Matters has posted a useful timeline of the events following a nasty piece of yellow journalism published by InsightMag.com--a "news" outfit owned by Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church--that claimed the Clinton camp "has discovered" that Barack Obama attended a madrassa as a child and was raised Muslim. Clinton has denied it and Obama has said he doesn't believe she was behind the report. But that didn't stop several major news outlets from running with it, especially those in the Murdoch empire. The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune ran editorials blasting the smear campaign and debunking the InsightMag.com claims and their reverberations in the right-wing echo chamber.The fad hasn't passed. On Tuesday, Terry Mattingly, who writes a religion column for Scripps Howard and runs the blog Get Religion, posted his critique of a Chicago Tribune article that looked at the career of Obama's pastor. It's a standard piece of religion journalism criticism, which takes the the writer to task for failing to unpack phrases like "the common sense of Scripture." But the post's headline is "Filling in that Obama faith timeline," and it begins with this:
Relax. I have little or no interest in the shoddy stories about BarackObama and his alleged years studying in a madrassa in Pakistan."No," Mattingly assures his readers, "I am interested in the faith of the adult Obama." After running through his critique of the Tribune piece, he wraps up the post with this:
Finally, if anyone wants to know more about Obamas faith, the new free daily called the Washington Examineris running a series by Bill Sammon on The 5 Most Important Things YouNeed to Know About Barack Obama. Part one is about religion and itcontains a wide range of interesting quotes about Obamas faithdrawnfrom his own memoirs. Its an interesting timeline. Check it out. Heres the opening statement, which is hot but factual:
WASHINGTON Although Sen. Barack Obamais a Christian, his childhood and family connections to Islam arebeginning to complicate his presidential ambitions.
So there's that timeline Mattingly referred to in his headline. I also recommend reading the piece he links to, but probably for different reasons. Sammon dipped into Obama's books looking for anything on his "Muslim past." He found that Obama spent two years in a Muslim school. That Barack means "blessed" in Arabic. That his grandfather was Muslim. Sammon grants that Obama's father was an atheist by the time he met Obama's mother, but Sammon points out, "Still, when his father, a black Kenyan named Barack Obama Sr., died in 1982, 'the father wanted a Muslim burial,' Obama quoted his brother, Roy, as saying in Dreams." Obama's statement refuting the InsightMag.com hit piece, Sammon says, "referred to his father simply as 'an atheist,' without mentioning his Muslim upbringing."There's much more along those lines, but the intended cumulative effect on the reader is clear: Obama has a long and deep connection to Islam--his name is even Arabic!--and possibly has Muslim sympathies. After all, Sammons notes, Obama said the United States is no longer just a Christian nation, and that he would stand by the Arab and Pakistani Americans he met with after 9/11 "should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."Sammon asserts that Obama's campaign is greatly affected by pundits (pundits like this?) asking questions about candidates' faith--he cites Romney--but doesn't offer word one of analysis about how these tenuous connections to Islam matter. The only bit of quoted analysis in the piece comes from Juan Williams:
He comes from a father who was a Muslim, said civil rights authorJuan Williams of National Public Radio. I mean, I think that givenwere at war with Muslim extremists, that presents a problem.Watch the exchange for yourself. Williams is talking about the issue of race and Obama. He's talking about how Obama is perceived. This isn't how Sammon presents it. But, in that vein, perhaps it's better to give you some information about Sammon to help you understand his past.Bill Sammon is senior White House Correspondent for the Examiner. Before that, he had the same job at the conservative Washington Times, which, like InsightMag.com, is owned by Sun Myung Moon's church. He's written books like, At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election, John Kerry and the Bush Haters, and Strategery: How George W. Bush Is Defeating Terrorists, Outwitting Democrats, and Confounding the Mainstream Media.