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August 24, 2010


Nice job, Brendan, of showing that the myth has been kept alive by mostly conservative media and political elites.

The biggest group of mistaken people alluded to above would be the 82% who don't know that the Sun revolves around the earth. In fact,
the Earth revolves around the Sun or the Sun revolves around the Earth, depending on where you place the origin of your three-dimensional coordinate system. It's all one and the same, according to the theory of relativity.

This example should serve as a warning that in researching belief in myths, we must be careful to be sure that we know what is truth and what is myth.

An unfortunately sloppy post Brendan.

A good portion of the items you catalog above indeed appear to be “deceptions”, “false” or “misleading” - most of the Gaffney quotes, some of the Wash Times cartoons and others in the dated timeline – though it’s hard to tell on some since synopses of comments often leave out what might be exculpatory context.

However, many of the examples you provide are either a) a recounting of facts (the entire Wash Times editorial excerpt from last Friday, which appears to be attempting to explain the recent poll results), (b) criticisms of Obama’s ‘American-ness’ (i.e. not his religion: Gingrich’s, Inhofe’s and Bruce’s mid-2009 comments), or (c)other criticisms that, while using Muslim –related terms, are not claims about his religion (Kuhner’s “cultural Muslim” comments might fall in this category – I’d have to understand what he means by the term.)

The most laughable inclusion is including Andy McCarthy’s claim that Obama is pursuing an agenda that will aid Islamic radicals and that Obama has “sympathies for the Muslim world”. I haven’t read his book (and I my gut is that he probably over-states his case), but if he provides facts and arguments that back up his claims (even if you disagree with the arguments), he is not being deceptive, misleading or stating falsities, which is the focus of your post.

Your argument would be much stronger (though shorter), if you would actually limit your list to statements that are by most lights explicitly misleading, and avoid those that can reasonably be explained as opinions that you just don’t agree with.

Finally, even if all these examples were valid, I doubt very much most of the people who have begun to doubt Obama is “non-Muslim” (recall one of the recent polls showed a larger absolute increase in those who “weren’t sure”) saw or heard any or all these arguments, so your cataloging does little to explain the changes in perception.

Marty, I may be wrong, but I thought Brendan included all those non-myths to support his belief that the popularity of the myth facilitates related non-myths. E.g., it's easier to believe that Obama's policies are promoting radical Islam if you (wrongly) think Obama might himself be a Muslim.

OTOH it's also possible that Brendan meant to tar people with non-disprovable criticisms of Obama because their criticisms resemble provably false criticisms. That would strike me as an invalid argument. E.g., if one wants to prove that Obama's policies don't encourage radical Islam, one needs to evaluate the policies themselves. It's not enough to point out that many people wrongly believe that Obama is is a Muslim.

Isn't this also an example of racism? I have a hard time imagining this particular myth getting started at all if Obama wasn't black.

Brendan - So Williams gets a positive mention in latest update, because he has opinions (including the tired and lame "it's because of his race") that he provides with no facts to back up?

Curious.... and disappointing.

David - Thanks for the comments. I think I understand your point, but if "non-myths" happen to align with "myths" occasionally, they still shouldn't be used as examples of items that are decptive, misleading or false.

I am open to being proven wrong - that it is something more organic, not orchestrated by Obama's critics that is increasing the perception that Obama is not Christian - but sloppy citations that stretch the meaning of "mis-leading" to absurd lengths actually weakens Brendan's arguments.

Marty, I think your use of the phrase "non-Christian" instead of "Muslim" may be a key point. I feel quite certain that Obama is not a Muslim. OTOH I wouldn't bet my life on his faith in Christian dogma. My impression is that he attended Wright's church for 20 years for political, not spiritual, reasons. Then, he quit that church also for political reasons, when it became an embarassment.

James Taranto suspects Obama might be an agnostic.

The point is, one of the polls (Time's, I think) asked whether Obama is Muslim or Christian. A respondant might reason that Obama doesn't seem to be a Christian, so he must be a Muslim.

So my question is related to the frequent use of the word "believe" in the conversations about people who participated in this poll. Isn't it highly possible that some people who hate Obama and took the poll just put down that they thought he was a Muslim to drive the left crazy? Because obviously it worked. It's not like there's a lie detector involved.

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