We live in a political culture that is so polarized that for some people, the worst thing that is said about one’s political opponent is assumed to be true. Being a Muslim shouldn’t automatically disqualify a person from being a president, of course; but for many people who (absurdly) assume that being a person of the Muslim faith and being a jihadist are interchangeable, it is.
Like the birth certificate issue, the claim that Obama is a Muslim [read: terrorist sympathizer] is a pernicious effort by some to discredit and disqualify him. It focuses on make-believe charges at the expense of real policy disagreements. But in some respects it’s even worse than the birth certificate issue, because it attempts to divide us on explicitly religious grounds, something that America at its best has always avoided.
I served a president who was at the center of crazy left-wing conspiracies. Ben Smith, then of Politico, reported: “More than half of Democrats, according to a neutral survey, said they believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks.” They asserted this not because there was a shred of evidence to support it but because they wanted to believe the worst they could about a president they had come to hate.Those on the right shouldn’t replicate a similar tactic when it comes to President Obama. The GOP presidential candidates, if and when they’re asked about it, should do everything they reasonably can to discredit this belief which is, in some places at least, widespread. There are right ways and wrong ways to win elections – and Obama should not lose this election, or even a single vote, based on the false claim that he’s a Muslim.
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