Feb 282008
Authors: Aaron Hedge

I think that both Senators McCain and Clinton are better qualified to lead our country than Sen. Obama. While there are plenty of good reasons to oppose Obama’s candidacy, the outrageous xenophobic attacks on his character need to stop now.

A salacious rumor has been going around the Internet claiming that Obama is an undercover Muslim. This fiction about Obama was concocted by linking together Obama’s Muslim father, the fact that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein and a picture of him wearing a turban while visiting Africa on a Senate trip.

This rumor Obama has repeatedly denied, stating that he is a Christian and that he has never practiced Islam.

Despite the rumor being entirely unfounded, the story of Obama’s Muslim roots continues to be gossiped about across talk radio and Internet chain letters. This would be bad enough — people willingly lying rather than engaging in truthful debate about Obama — but the fact that Islam has turned into a political slur is even more disheartening.

It should not matter whether Obama is Muslim, Mormon, or Methodist. As long as he upholds the Constitution and does his best to serve our nation, the religion he practices should be irrelevant.

It is shockingly closed-minded to think that all our presidential candidates have to be white Protestant males. When, for example, Christian fundamentalists demand only Christians hold public office, they narrow the field of candidates and produce worse government.

A lot of people would rather vote for an incompetent Christian white guy like President Bush than give someone of a different skin color or race a chance. It is time for our pluralistic society to embrace leaders of all backgrounds and origins.

Obama has bared the brunt of hateful attacks because he is black. If someone like Sen. John Kerry went to Africa and dressed in traditional Somali garb while meeting with natives there, we might chuckle at the photo and then forget about it.

However, since Obama is black, people see him in a turban and stereotypically assume that he is participating in the local culture because he shares their beliefs. It is as crazy to believe this as it is to assume that since Obama’s middle name is Hussein, he shares views with Saddam Hussein. Sadly, his hate-filled opponents are arguing that as well.

The Tennessee Republican Party put out a press release headlined “Anti-Semites for Obama” which featured the infamous Obama turban photo.

The Party said in their press release, “the Tennessee Republican Party today joins a growing chorus of Americans concerned about the future of the nation of Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East, if Sen. Barack Hussein Obama is elected president of the United States.” Obama has shown great support for Israel while he has been a Senator. Christians share a similar faith to Jews, so calling Obama anti-Semitic is ludicrous.

Shame on the Tennessee Republican Party for putting out this outrageously bigoted and slanderous hit piece. If you are a Republican, you should be protesting to your party leadership and making sure somebody high up within the party apologizes for this outrageous assault on Obama.

While I have been hoping that a Republican would win the presidency, I must say that if Republicans are willing to use racism to get votes, I won’t be voting Republican this fall.

Attacking Obama in this manner makes me think about Republican positions on issues such as border control with a more cynical perspective – maybe it was about keeping out foreigners rather than defending Americans all along.

Ian Bezek is a sophomore economics major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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