Senator Obama is a Muslim extremist who wants to overthrow the government. That's the rumor I read about on the front page of the Washington Post today. They're evidently in the business of whisper campaigning now.
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier this year.
This appeared on the front page of the very serious Washington Post and was written by Perry Bacon, Jr., whose irresponsible reporting makes frightened, dickless hooples like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Weiner Savage seem Murrow-ish. (Their dickless status is just a rumor from an e-mail circulating the internet, by the way.)
Yes, the Washington Post has elevated itself to the level of Glenn Beck's awesome question to Congressman Ellison: Prove to me that you're not working for our darkie enemies, you America-hating darkie you.
Any first year journalism student knows that the phrase "despite his denials" implies a certain level of guilt, as if Senator Obama has been forced to repeat that he's not an Islamic terrorist wherever he goes, just as Rudy Giuliani has to deny that he exploits 9/11 for political gain. Everyone knows that Giuliani is guilty of bleeding 9/11 for his own nefarious ends, even though he has repeatedly denied it -- and as recently as in Wednesday's CNN debate in which his 2-minute response to this issue included four mentions of "September 11th, 2001."
So, in other words, whenever it's reported that a politician is denying something, the general assumption is that he or she is lying. And that's one of the reasons why Karl Rove and other GOP operatives are engaged in this brand of ratfucking so often and with such effectiveness. They know the trust angles. They know the fear angles. And they can easily manipulate both with just the right kind of agitprop and rumormongering.
The infamous South Carolina whisper campaign that implied Senator McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child is arguably the most dastardly whisper campaign prior to this current cycle. The phone bank question was, "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew that he fathered an illegitimate black child?" The question doesn't outright accuse the senator, but it implies an accusation -- especially when shoved through the filter of bigotry held by certain white Americans.
Remarkably, the Washington Post and Bacon aren't that subtle. In the second paragraph, Bacon uses the phrases: "he is a Muslim" and "he had received training in Islam in Indonesia." Phrases like this, when printed on one of the most important front pages in the world -- and then taken out of context as I have done here -- have the very real potential of aiding the agendas of far-right fearmongers, racists and unapologetically ignorant rednecks.
How easy would it be for a radical right-wing 527 to produce a commercial using these phrases? Really damn easy. Imagine this:
DEEP VOICE GUY: Barack Osam--Obama. Is he or is he not working for our enemies?
Photo of Obama slowly cross-dissolves into a photo of Bin Laden.
DEEP VOICE GUY: The Washington Post says, "Despite his denials... He is a Muslim," and, "He had received training in Islam in Indonesia."
Photo of Bin Laden with an overlay of the al-Qaeda monkey bars. Slow push-in.
DEEP VOICE GUY: Prove it, Barack Obama. Are you with the terrorists? On second thought... don't prove it.
Smash cut to black. Sound effect of an explosion and people screaming.
TEXT: Paid for by Frightened Dickless Bigots For Truth.
There's nothing technically inaccurate about the wording, even though the implications are way beyond absurd. Yet considering what we've seen before, am I so far off the mark with the concept?
The Swift Boat Liars; the ads showing Senator Cleland next to pictures of Bin Laden and Saddam; that weird "call me" ad two years ago that implied Harold Ford was plotting to use his mighty African power to grab up all the white women in Tennessee... No matter how thoroughly these accusations were debunked, they all seemed to have worked. Senator Kerry, Senator Cleland, Senator McCain and Congressman Ford all came up short when squaring off against the GOP's shameless whisper campaigns. Now, in the case of Senator Obama, the GOP ratfuckers have some tasty quotes to pull.
So you watch. If Senator Obama wins the nomination, and I believe he will, this is the kind of wackaloon insanity his campaign will face every damn day, say nothing of the adversity he'll confront regarding the color of his skin.
Why? Because America has become the Fear Nation. To wit, Bacon quoted an anonymous internet freakdog who wrote:
"Be careful, be very careful."
The irresponsibility of printing this anonymous quote confounds reason, and only the quote itself is more outrageous. Give me 10 minutes and I can find anonymous internet quotes saying all sorts of crap on a stick. Why? Because most of the internet is anonymous and therefore unaccountable to the truth. That's why, for example, the Washington Post doesn't print anonymous letters to the editor.
Speaking of irresponsible journalism, there's a newspaper published locally here in eastern Pennsylvania called The Myerstown Herald. This week's banner headline: "Skid Loader Hits Boy, 2." Other headlines include: "Creepy Losers Swipe Dirt Bike," and "Dorks Damage Window With Rock, Pumpkin." Herald headlines routinely include the words "goons", "thugs" and "punks." Seriously, you have to read this thing. I thought it was a brilliant meta-joke, but it's eerily real.
Myerstown, despite the sensational tone of its headlines, is the home to roughly four people and a diner. Yet the conservative scanner-jockey who writes and publishes the Herald makes you believe that the world is being slowly digested by a Godzilla-sized version of the Hamburglar.
It occurred to me, however, that the Herald is indicative of the American fear pandemic. Be careful! Creepy loser Muslims are out to kill us all! Prove to me that you're not an Islamic goon! The Republican fear factory, which is presently injecting its distortions into the Washington Herald -- I mean, Post, can only survive by successfully producing enough artificial hysteria so as to keep half of America cowering under its security woobies and voting for authoritarians like Rudy Giuliani.
Senator Obama is clearly not a Muslim terrorist "plant." But if enough people believe it, the truth doesn't matter. That's the Republican strategy, and today they have the Washington Post to thank for the assist.