It was inevitable, with all the shame being heaped upon the media and President Obama's political detractors for spreading the myth/conspiracy/slur that Obama is a Muslim, that a conservative commentator would try to turn the tables and pin responsibility on Obama himself. And now that has happened, in very unconvincing and sometimes laughable ways, thanks to Byron York of the Washington Examiner. Though the headline "Obama has himself to blame for Muslim problem" might lead you to believe that within the article there is some kind of explanation for why Obama is to blame for his Muslim problem, there actually isn't, anywhere.
York starts out with a history lesson: Obama discussed his Muslim roots in his book Dreams From My Father, spent some time in a Muslim country, and once said a nice thing about Islam.
The question did not come out of nowhere. As Obama said, his grandfather was a Muslim. His father was raised a Muslim before becoming, by Obama’s account, “a confirmed atheist.” Obama’s stepfather was a Muslim. His half-sister Maya told the New York Times that her “whole family was Muslim.”
Obama spent two years in a Muslim school in Indonesia and later, in a conversation with the Times’ Nicholas Kristof, described the Arabic call to prayer, the beginning of which he recited by heart, as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.” Given all that, it is entirely accurate and fair to describe Obama as having Muslim roots.
Yes, that would be accurate and fair. Of course, having relatives who were Muslim and being Muslim oneself are completely different things. The facts: Obama had a Muslim grandfather and an atheist father (neither of whom Obama knew at all growing up), while Obama himself joined a Christian church in the early nineties. This was all thoroughly explained in Obama's first book and throughout the presidential campaign. Unfortunately, some people had trouble with this apparently very complicated narrative, especially when chain e-mails from Grandma Ruth and Uncle Herb told them that "OBAMER IS MUSLIN!!!1!!! HE WAS SWORNED IN ON A KORAN!!11!!"
Which is why the Obama campaign started to get a little touchy about any suggestions that he could be a Muslim.
Yet during the campaign his aides shouted down even a measured discussion of the topic, and Obama’s critics could face ostracism simply for uttering the candidate’s middle name. In December 2007, with the Iowa caucuses approaching, former Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Hillary Clinton supporter, said of Obama, “I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There’s a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal.” Kerrey’s remarks caused an uproar one TV commentator wondered whether they were “poisoning the well” and Kerrey later apologized.
Makes sense to us. The Obama campaign did everything it could to make sure that the Muslim myth didn't spread, including which York never mentions for some reason a near constant discussion, in speeches and interviews, of his Christian faith. We're still waiting for the part about Obama being responsible for his "Muslim problem."
Eighteen months later, when President Obama traveled to Cairo for a long-awaited speech to the Muslim world, the White House was saying, and the press was reporting, the same thing Kerrey had to apologize for. “President Obama is now embracing his Muslim roots,” ABC News’ “Nightline” announced. “President Obama’s speech was laced with references to the Quran and his Muslim roots,” said USA Today. “Obama touched on his own Muslim roots,” reported the Associated Press.
Many people do not pay close attention to news reports. It’s entirely possible some of them blurred the distinction between “Muslim roots” and “Muslim,” especially since Obama in Cairo celebrated what his campaign had once downplayed.
Here's what Obama said in his Cairo speech: "Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I'm a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims." Not ambiguous at all. York continues:
The public may be doing the same thing now, particularly after Obama chose a White House Ramadan iftar dinner to make a high-profile statement in support of the Ground Zero mosque.
So, it seems as if York is pointing here to the sheer ignorance and indifference of the public, not Obama doing anything to propagate the Muslim myth. He held an iftar dinner? So did President Bush every year. He supported the right for someone to build a mosque? So do 60 percent of Americans. If people hear this and conclude Obama is a Muslim, they were probably never interested in the truth about Obama's religion to begin with.
Still waiting to hear how Obama is responsible for his "Muslim problem."
Pew asked respondents how they learned about Obama’s religion. Most who believe Obama is a Muslim say they learned it through the media. But 11 percent say they learned it through Obama’s “own words and behavior.” Perhaps they read the White House press pool reports, which often describe Obama heading out to play basketball or golf on Sunday mornings.
Let's just break this down, because this is the important part. The whole premise of this article is supposed to be that President Obama and his aides are to blame "for the way they’ve handled the Muslim issue over the years." And yet in the second to last paragraph, York mentions that, oh, by the way, "most who believe Obama is a Muslim say they learned it through the media." The number is 60 percent, according to Pew. Additionally, a separate 7 percent said they learned it through the Internet, 7 percent said, vaguely, things they "heard or read," while 6 percent say, somewhat more specifically, that it was "things heard or read during the presidential campaign."
Only 11 percent say it was "Obama's behaviors or his own words." We wish they were further asked what, exactly, they were referring to, because honestly, the guy talks about Jesus and reverends and churches all the time. But York grasps for some way that this slither of a minority could be right, that they could have been convinced of Obama's Muslimness by Obama himself. And all that he can come up with is that these people are reading pool reports (nobody reads those!), and the pool reports don't say "Obama went to church today."
That's a pathetic argument, and indicative of the absence of any actual evidence that Obama has somehow led people to believe that he's a Muslim. The truth is that there's a lot of false information out there, and many Americans who don't like Obama for any number of reasons have chosen to accept that false information and ignore the facts that contradict it. It's that simple. Blaming the "Muslim problem" on Obama is a sorry attempt at excusing the ignorance and bias of a humiliatingly large number of Americans.
Obama has himself to blame for Muslim problem [Washington Examiner]