I’m writing in part out of a sense of personal responsibility. Those who suggest that Mr. Obama is a Muslim — as if that in itself were wrong — regularly cite my own columns, especially an interview last year in which I asked him about Islam and his boyhood in Indonesia. In that interview, Mr. Obama praised the Arabic call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset,” and he repeated the opening of it.
This should surprise no one: the call to prayer blasts from mosque loudspeakers five times a day, and Mr. Obama would have had to have been deaf not to learn the words as a child. But critics, like Jerome Corsi, whose book denouncing Mr. Obama, “The Obama Nation,” is No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list, quote from that column to argue that Mr. Obama has mysterious ties to Islam. I feel a particular obligation not to let my own writing be twisted so as to inflame bigotry and xenophobia.
Interestingly, when Obama himself inadvertently referred to "my Muslim faith" in an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopolous, Kristof's column was scrubbed from the New York Times' website so blogs could no longer link to his quotes from Obama about the Muslim call to prayer. There is nothing sinister about stating these facts in the least bit and Kristoff should not be running away from the obvious. Indeed, it was another New York Times reporter who pointed out that according to some Muslim traditions, Obama began life as a Muslim by virtue of his father being Muslim. That set off a debate among Muslim scholars about whether the religion is passed from father to child notes Andy Martin, a Chicagoan who has been a frequent critic of Obama and authored a book on Obama, "The Man Behind The Mask." Parents typically raise their children in accordance with their own religion. Children often, but not always, choose the religion of their parents. Nonetheless, Obama has taken great pains to deny he has ever been a Muslim, even if it was limited to his childhood and college years. I don't think people should question that he became a Christian as an adult and is still a practicing Christian. Similarly, Obama should acknowledge his Muslim heritage. It is insulting to people of Muslim faith to simply deny the obvious. Yet, the pro Obama media's take is that if people think Obama has a Muslim heritage, they won't vote for him. Hence, every person who points out the obvious must be smeared as a religious bigot.
As far as Kristof is concerned, the topic simply can't be broached by anyone unless you are a religious bigot. "Journalists need to do more than call the play-by-play this election cycle," he writes. "We also need to blow the whistle on such egregious fouls calculated to undermine the political process and magnify the ugliest prejudices that our nation has done so much to overcome." Kristof is driven to this view by virtue of polls showing that as many as one-third of American voters believe Obama is Muslim. Kristof blames Christians and, by implication, McCain because one of his ads is criticized for using imagery similar to the "Left Behind" best-selling Christian book series. "Mr. McCain himself is not popular with evangelicals. But they will vote for him if they think the other guy may be on Satan’s side," Kristof opines.
Here it is, Kristof. The American people want to know as much as possible about their presidential candidates. When one candidate constantly denies the existence of an irrefutable part of his life, the American people become suspicious. That doesn't mean they're religious bigots. That doesn't mean they're small-minded. That just means they are rightfully skeptical about the fundamental being of this person.
Does anyone else see the double standard at play here? Immediately upon Palin's selection as McCain's running mate, the news media and liberal bloggers began openly raising questions about Palin's past affiliation with an Assembly of God church. The emphasis on her religion is based upon a perception among many in the media that there is fundamentally something wrong with anyone who is perceived as being a "fundamentalist Christian." Incidentally, Palin doesn't hide the fact that she was raised by her parents as a Roman Catholic, an affiliation which at one time in this country would have doomed any candidate's presidential ambitions. Liberals in the media don't attempt to hide their disdain for people of Christian faith. Obama's own negative reference to small town Americans as "bitter people" who are "clinging to their guns and religion" reflected that sentiment. Yet, nobody in the media complained that Obama was showing bigotry towards fundamentalist Christians when he uttered that statement. Mr. Kristof should take a look at the prejudices in his own backyard before he passes judgment on his neighbors.