Muslim? Not Muslim? A Strange Case of Perception

Quite frankly, I’m neither here nor there on the whole Obama/Muslim thing.  However, I am very interested in how so many people either changed their minds about his religious affiliation and even more don’t know his belief system after two and a half years of getting to know him.  It is a complete mystery how the public’s perception of a person’s religious belief system could change so much, especially given there has been no real, apparent reason for it.  Some claim it is an integral part of the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.  Others suggest it is an insidious whisper campaign by lambent racists to discredit the president.  I suggest there could very well be a simpler solution, he brought it on himself.

The August 2010 Pew Research poll found 34% said Obama was Christian, 18% believe him to be a Muslim, and 43% don’t know.  Compare this to last year’s poll where 48% believed him Christian, 11% Muslim and 34% didn’t know in March 2009.  The media went wild.  The number of stories promulgated that said people ‘incorrectly identified’ him as a Muslim exploded.  The Democratic Party machine went into full-out propaganda mode to ‘correct’ people’s perceptions and ‘demean’ those who either believed him Muslim or didn’t know.  Amy Sullivan of Time magazine shrieked, “Are One-Quarter of Americans Freakin’ Morons.”  She could not hide her disdain for the respondents in the poll.  You could almost hear her vein popping while reading the story.  Enter the pundits. 

Soros-funded Media Matters is absolutely convinced it is the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.  They have a very lengthy page of quotes from quotes and insinuations to prove it is the right who is behind this plot.  Problem with their evidence is, there just isn’t that much substance to it.  Rush Limbaugh is, of course, the first quote and citation of Rush calling the president Imam Obama.  Unfortunately for Media Matters’ case in chief, Limbaugh began calling him that AFTER the poll had been taken.

Media Matters then catalogs the assertions made by the right.  Most of those are before Obama’s election which would be reflected more in the March 2009 poll and less now.  Certainly, immediacy is more powerful than a distant past allegation.  The other evidence cited is Pamela Geller of Atlasshrugged blog and Jim Quinn.  That’s about it.  Their other examples of ‘rightwing influence’ are Beck’s question about the kind of Christian Obama is,  Rush’s question about his Rev. Wright viewpoint of Christianity and a few instances before the election.  Hinderaker of Powerline echoes this ‘what kind of Christian is he?’ refrain, but that hardly labels him as a Muslim. 

Finally Media Matters digs to the bottom of the barrel to find some references to Obama campaign symbols.  How this is relevent is beyond me.  If people believed he was a Muslim before and saw all kinds of Rorschact emblems before, they didn’t suddenly multiply.  It’s their usual ‘magical’ argument and as thin as water. 

So, it’s pretty hard to believe that the very few examples and very limited exposure this ‘Obama is a Muslim’ message has changed any minds or altered any perceptions.  It would be a very bizarre world if these six people somehow managed to change the minds of millions of people with this weak and rarely mentioned rhetoric.  So, something changed people’s minds.  Could it be a whisper campaign?

Michael Bloomberg spoke against a whisper campaign during the 2008 election.  A few leftwing bloggers wrote about this mysterious whispering about Obama’s religious beliefs.  Much ado was made for a couple of days over two years ago.  Since then, there certainly hasn’t been anyone whispering that into my ear.  A few, including me, have called him a outright socialist, but not a Muslim.  That must be such a sub rosa whispering campaign as to be practically non-existent.  Really, if no one is doing the whispering and no one is hearing these ephemeral musings, I doubt they could change that many people’s minds. 

No. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of effort on the part of people to persuade or argue Obama’s religious affiliation.  It’s simply a non-issue.  Yet, the perception of him as a Muslim grew.  How could this happen without a full-fledged effort by somebody, anybody? 

Obama did this himself.  Obama refused to go to the National Day of Prayer, which isn’t even a Christian event but an ecumenical event.  He hasn’t joined a church.  He’s suspiciously absent and seems almost hostile to Christian public expressions of faith going so far as to strip them of their religious undertones.  The White House Christmas tree last year was a lame, political affair without the trappings of symbols of Jesus’ birth.  He ran around the world bowing to Arab/Muslim leaders.  He is more public in his embrace of Islam and its followers.  He’s conspicuously silent on all things Judeo-Christian and more openly comfortable with other religions, especially in his talking about the Muslim call to prayer. 

I don’t think Obama is a Muslim, nor do I think he’s particularly mindful of the religion.  It’s a part of his past in that his extended family is Muslim, but that doesn’t make him a Muslim.  No, it’s entirely his actions and demeanor.  Obama says he’s a Christian so I’ll say he must be.  But, deep in my heart I wonder.  I don’t think he’s traditionally religious at all.  I think he’s an adherent to a dogma, but that dogma is socialism.  I don’t think he’s really that enamored with Jesus or Mohammed or Buddha for that matter.  I think his entire allegiance lies with Marx and Mao.  The state is his religion and Keynes is it’s prophet. 

That’s why so many don’t know his religion, a far greater number than those who believe he’s a Muslim.  But 55% know he’s a socialist.  No question about that.

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