Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More campaign conspiracy theories: Barack Obama a "terrorist in disguise"?

The Columbia Tribune helpfully headlined this one "Obama fighting Muslim rumor," as though it might possibly be true, the AP story they printed pretty straightforwardly gives the facts about Obama's Christianity:.

At a rally to kick off a weeklong campaign for the South Carolina primary, Obama tried to set the record straight from an attack widely circulating on the Internet that is designed to play into prejudices against Muslims and fears of terrorism.

"I’ve been to the same church - the same Christian church - for almost 20 years," Obama said, stressing the word Christian and drawing cheers from the faithful in reply. "I was sworn in with my hand on the family Bible. Whenever I’m in the United States Senate, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. So if you get some silly e-mail ... send it back to whoever sent it and tell them this is all crazy. Educate."

Obama is referring to a debunked chain e-mail widely circulating on the Internet that suggests he is hiding his Islamic roots and might be a terrorist in disguise. It says he was sworn into the Senate on the Quran and turns his back on the flag during the pledge.

There are some truths in the e-mail’s details. Obama’s middle name is Hussein. His father and stepfather were Muslim. And he spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, a largely Muslim country. But he attended secular and Catholic schools, not a radical madrassa.

Of course, stories like this just give the rumors further publicity. And it does seem to be pretty widely believed, at least among people who equate non-English-sounding names with illegal immigration and/or terrorism.