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September 23, 2008

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If Rush falsely accused Obama of misrepresenting his heritage then Rush unfairly maligned him. OTOH if Rush's contention is accurate then he deserves kudos for good reporting. Note that Media Matters didn't present any facts showing that Obama's racial heritage is black rather than Arabic. They call Rush's assertion, not wrong, but baseless.

So, is Rush right or wrong? It seems to me that there are many unanswered questions here:

-- What is the evidence one way or the other as to Obama's racial heritage?

-- Is Obama's father from the part of North Africa populated by Arabs?

-- If so, is there evidence that he was nevertheless black, rather than Arab?

-- What is Obama's basis for believing his father is black, rather than Arabic?

-- Was Kenneth Lamb correct that Obama's father was classified as Arabic by the Kenyan government?

-- Has anyone tried to verify Lamb's allegation?

-- Does Lamb have a reputation that would give credibility to his assertion?

-- Even if Obama's father was classified as Arabic, how reliable is that classification? Does it necessarily show that his father had no black heritage at all?

(BTW here's a personal story. My wife's cousin had always been told that she was part Cherokee Indian. Recently she had a genetic test done. It showed no Native American blood, but that she was some part Negro. The point is, one might not know one's own genetic background.)

So the important issue here is not that Lamb and Limbaugh are leveling certain unverified and inaccurate claims at Obama, and doing so as one would proffer a slur, but that Obama must prove that he is, in fact, what he is presumed to be. Gotcha.

Also, thanks for the folksy anecdote.

Nice cutesy justaxposition, but don't we generally expect that in order to vilify-by-association someone who endorses someone else that they are aware (or at least reasonably could have been aware) of the vile thing they did before the endorsement? Or is your thesis that George Bush peered into Rush's soul and, knowing he was going to smear Obama six weeks in the future, said "heckofa job Rush" anyway?

I hate to put too fine a point on it, but isn't this exactly the same sort of smear-by-association garbage you normally complain about here (quite rightly, I might add) when other people do it?

> Nice cutesy justaxposition, but don't we generally expect that in order to vilify...

I think that's a fair point, but it ignores Limbaugh's long history of vile comments. Just scanning the wiki on Rush brings back memories of his greatest hits, like pantomiming Parkinson's symptoms to belittle Michael J. Fox. It might be more accurate for Brendan to quote Rush trashing Cindy Sheehan as she grieves for her dead soldier son and then follow THAT with a ringing endorsement from our President, but it doesn't exactly make him look any better.

rone, you say Lamb's assertion is "unverified." That word could have two meanings.

If you're claiming that Lamb didn't verify his assertion, then you're calling Lamb a liar, or at best a sloppy reporter. Maybe he is lying. However, since Lamb has written for the New York Times and other reputable newspapers, I think he deserves a certain measure of belief.

If your point is that other sources haven't gone to Kenya or contacted someone in Kenya to check the records, that's hardly Lamb's fault. It would seem to be pretty easy for the AP, the New York Times or some (other) Obama supporter to find out how Obama's father was classified.

Maybe they haven't checked because they're afraid Lamb is correct...

Incidentally, if Rush was relying on Lamb then Rush exaggerated in asserting that Obama has "not one shred of African-American blood." Lamb says "Mr. Obama is only 6.25% African Negro..." http://kennethelamb.blogspot.com/2008/02/barak-obama-questions-about-ethnic.html

This whole argument is based on the assumption that Arab and Black are mutually exclusive. All these terms are artificial social constructs.

I am a retired government worker. According to the US government each person is whatever he or she says they are. Moreover, you can check more than one box on government forms when it asks about race. You can check all the boxes if you wish. Frankly, given the history of the human race that would be the most honest option.

Also remember every human being ultimately traces their ancestors back to Africa. Barack Obama's father may have left Africa (temporarily) in the Fifties. My White ancestors may have left ten or fifty thousand years earlier. If you are human your ancestors came from Africa whether you are White, Black, Arab, or Chinese.

I heard that the other day, and I was also shocked. Way over the line.

OTOH if Rush's contention is accurate then he deserves kudos for good reporting. ... They call Rush's assertion, not wrong, but baseless.

Please explain how a baseless assertion can qualify as good reporting.

Lamb's assertion that Obama is only 6 1/4 African black was made way back in February, and reported by the Chicago Tribune, along with other media outlets. Lamb is a serious journalist with a long career of investigative reporting. If the information which he has diseminated isn't true then why hasn't it been formally refuted by anyone, including the Obama camp. It's important to me to know the truth about Obama's ethnic heritage. General principals dictate that I not vote for an Arab at this time, so soon after 9/11...jms

"Lamb's assertion that Obama is only 6 1/4 African black was made way back in February, and reported by the Chicago Tribune, along with other media outlets."

show us the Chicago Tribune article link and the other media outlets links that reported like Lamb that Obama only 6 1/4 African. Was lamb their source?

"The categories promulgated in 1978 by the OMB in fact did draw distinctions, but unlike earlier policies, not on skin color. Known as “directive 15”, the standards identify four race categories:

* American Indian/Alaska Native: this category includes indigenous north American groups, and despite genetic similarity, remains distinct from indigenous persons from central and south America because of certain land and treaty obligations;
* Asian or Pacific Islander: this category originally covered persons with origins in countries East of the Indian subcontinent, but was adjusted after the Association of Indians in America lobbied the OMB to move their group out of the white race category;
* Black: persons with origins in the black racial groups of Africa- this category purposely does not encompass continental Africa to distinguish North African regions and European settler populations; and
* White: persons originating in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa;"


According to Rush Limbaugh, Obama is a White man, since Arabs are a part of the White race and he is saying Obama is Arab.

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