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May 29, 2008

The Africans love Obama -- or maybe not

Obamapuertorico210 While I was in Africa, I was repeatedly asked about the presidential campaign and, particularly, about Sen. Obama's candidacy. It's not hard to understand why black people in Africa are excited about the idea of a black man running for president of the U.S. One question that I was asked on several occasions was "Is America ready for a black President?"

I know my husband and others think I'm naive on this point, but I really don't think Sen. Obama's race is an issue, especially given the demographics on the "browning" of America: Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians make up somewhere between 35-40% of our population. And we've already seen a huge surge in white Americans who favor Obama. If he turns out to be the Democratic candidate (and I expect him to be), then I guess we'll just have to wait and see whether America is ready for a black President or not. 

My daughter and I fielded a lot of questions about this election.  Each time, I tried to explain my belief that neither race nor gender should play a role in our decision to vote for one candidate over another: we need to vote on the issues. So, we discussed the issues that are of the greatest concern to Americans (the economy, the war in Iraq, illegal immigration, and abortion) and explained the positions of the three leading candidates.

That's when we noticed their enthusiasm for Obama being tempered. You see, we were in a Muslim country, and Muslims -- like many Christians in America -- believe that abortion is murder. Other students wondered aloud about Obama's religion: is he a Muslim or a Christian? One student quietly told my daughter, "I don't want a Muslim to be president of the United States!" 

So, while there was excitement on the one hand, there were also serious questions about Sen. Obama. In that regard, I think the Africans are not so different than most Americans I know. As tired as we may be during this seemingly endless primary process, we need to keep paying attention to the issues -- seeking to look behind the politician's mask to see the inner man (or woman) who will be our next president. 

(Image © Reuters)

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Comments

Gina Dalfonzo

I'm no Obama fan, but I'm pretty sure he's not a Muslim. Weird to see how rumors and smear campaigns started over here can spread all the way to another continent!

Diane Singer

I don't think you can call it a "smear" campaign. According to his books, his background IS Muslim (he was enrolled as a Muslim in various schools when he was growing up). Though he claims to be a Christian, I have to wonder given the "black liberation theology" of the church he's been in for 20 years, a theology of victimization and hate that clearly doesn't line up with the Bible. And while I don't KNOW his heart (no one but God can), I also have legitimate reasons to question where he really stands. That being said, it has nothing to do with why I won't vote for him. In my mind, his rabid pro-abortion, pro-infanticide position makes him unfit to be president.

Diane Singer

I don't think you can call it a "smear" campaign. According to his books, his background IS Muslim (he was enrolled as a Muslim in various schools when he was growing up). Though he claims to be a Christian, I have to wonder given the "black liberation theology" of the church he's been in for 20 years, a theology of victimization and hate that clearly doesn't line up with the Bible. And while I don't KNOW his heart (no one but God can), I also have legitimate reasons to question where he really stands. That being said, it has nothing to do with why I won't vote for him. In my mind, his rabid pro-abortion, pro-infanticide position makes him unfit to be president.

Gina Dalfonzo

His background is, yes, but I don't think you can really go by background. My parents' background is Catholic, but they're now Protestant. So anyone who called them Catholic now would be mistaken. I also question how truly Christian Obama's church is, but still, that doesn't make it a mosque.

I call it a smear campaign because I think there were those who deliberately tried to make it appear that he's a Muslim in order to damage his presidential prospects. For instance:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/01/22/obama.madrassa/

SallyM

He is not a muslim and never been a muslim. Those that people such kook, are just plain dumb.

Gina Dalfonzo

Sally, change your tone, please. We can and will discuss this without insulting people. Any further comments along those lines will be deleted.

Diane Singer

There's a different mindset about such things in the Muslim world. You ARE what your father is; and since Obama's father was Muslim, to them, he is too. I know that doesn't make much sense to the Western mind, but it does to them. Also, from their perspective, his being a Muslim (even if by their cultural standards) is a positive, not a negative as it would be here.

CLH

In case you missed it...

"I want to make absolutely clear that I do not subscribe to the views that he [Wright] suggests," Obama said. "I think they are wrong, I think they are destructive."

Wright's remarks, he added, "do not portray acccurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly do not portray accurately my values and beliefs. If Rev. Wright thinks that's political posturing than he does not know me very well and based on what I saw yesterday, I may not know him very well."

http://www.washingtonindependent.com/view/obama-unequivocally

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/29/obama-says-hes-outraged-by-ex-pastors-comments/

Pro-life evangelical

Diane -

Could you please explain what you mean by your use of the term "rabid"? I'm having a hard time seeing how it comes anywhere close to being an adequate description of Sen. Obama's views on abortion.

Doug

Pro-life evangelical,

I think that Diane is referring to Sen. Obama's voting record on abortion/partial-birth abortion, which seems to speak for itself. I know that there is some disagreement on his abortion views in the evangelical Christian community. One colleague, whom I respect but whose take on this I do not share, is quite pro-life and concurs with Obama on the "Overturning-the-Roe-v-Wade ship has sailed; now it is time to educate people and make abortion as rare as possible" stance. (That's not a direct quote - just my weak translation of this position.)

I guess we'll need to see what Diane's response is.

Steve

Voting Record:
Sen. Obama received the following scores on NARAL Pro-Choice America's Congressional Record on Choice.
2007: 100 percent
2006: 100 percent
2005: 100 percent

Pasted directly from:
http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/statements/obama.html

What else need be said?

Diane Singer

Personally, I find his disavowal of Dr. Wright's views disingenuous: it's campaign year posturing at its worst. A 60-second sound bite can't undo the fact that he spent 20 years in the man's church. And even if his disavowal is genuine, don't you worry that it's taken him 20 years to figure out just how wrong Dr. Wright is? I certainly think it's a good reason to pause and question his wisdom and his discernment, and thus his fitness to be president.

As far as his "rabid" pro-abortion stance, what else would you call someone who voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act when he was an Illinois state senator? As I stated earlier, he's not just pro-abortion, he's pro-infanticide. As Steve and Doug have noted, NARAL loves this guy; and regardless of his election-year posturing on the issue, his record does, indeed, speak for itself.

Michael Snow

Re: Race not an issue

I think this is true in a lot of places regarding white voters but not in the recent contests in W. Va and Kentucky.
Did you see the poll on how many (a majority, I think) of voters there who voted for Clinton would NOT vote for Obama in the general election?

Also re: "the "browning" of America: Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians"

Some of the most prejudiced attitudes towards Blacks are among Hispanics, at least among the older generations.

Re: smear campaign

I have seen Christians engaged in smear campaigns against Obama. On one Christian forum site, the title thread was "Barack Husein Obama" and many comments were meant to smear by innuendo etc.

benjamin ady

It's sad to see The Point stooping to legitimize the whole "Is Obama a Muslim ridiculousness" while paying lip service to "paying attention to the issues"

10% plus of Americans *actually* believe that Obama is a Muslim.

(Not that that should be such a big deal. i mean to say if you add up the gross weight of all the crimes committed by christians and by muslims over the years, it's hardly arguable that christians would come out any better. Big I digress.)

And racism is a huge issue. 8% of white voters *admit* that they're not willing to vote for a black person for president.

Of course 18-20% of Americans think the sun orbits the earth, rather than vice versa.

Which is worse, voting against the Illinois born alive protection act and thus condemning to death some relatively tiny number of babies in botched abortions, or voting for a war authorization that condemned to death or displacement Millions of innocent people?

I suppose, of course, that there's some sort of weighting that takes place because most of the babies who would have been saved with passage of that act in Illinois would have been American babies, whereas most the people who have been killed or displaced by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq have *not* been Americans.

tom heneghan

If you’re interested in the issue of Obama, Islam and whether he might be a Muslim apostate, you might want to check out “Muslim scholar responds to ‘Sharia smear’ against Obama” -- http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/05/30/muslim-scholar-responds-to-sharia-smear-against-obama/ -- on the Reuters FaithWorld blog.

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