Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Open Thread | This Year's Local Races: By th... »

Monday, May 19, 2008

Meet the New Enemy, Same as the Old Enemy?

posted by on May 19 at 17:40 PM

First, one of the most memorable paragraphs from one of last year’s most important (and prescient) pieces about Barack Obama:

Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

Second, this piece, posted today by the Christian Science Monitor:

Osama bin Laden must be chuckling in his safe house. After all, the 2008 campaign could very well give Al Qaeda the ultimate propaganda tool: President Barack Hussein Obama, Muslim apostate.

The fact that Senator Obama – the son of a Muslim father – insists he was never a Muslim before becoming Christian is irrelevant to bin Laden. In bin Laden’s eyes, Obama is a murtad fitri, the worst type of apostate, because he was blessed by Allah to be born into the true faith of Islam.

Via, as ever.

RSS icon Comments


What a load of crap. So the author claims to read OBL's mind?

Oh yeah, and the implication that we should elect our president based on the opposite of what some madman in a cave thinks. Fuck that. I'll stick with repudiating Bush.

Posted by Chris | May 19, 2008 5:43 PM

I've seen some postings about Josh Feit getting fired at The Stranger?

Is this true?

Josh had some personality issues, but his instincts were good. So why did he leave? If Dan can write about his personal life, shouldn't he write about what's going on at the newspaper?

Posted by Stil?l waiting. Dan, where's the story | May 19, 2008 5:55 PM

@2 - Yeah, where's Josh? No mention on Slog (that I can find).

Posted by Mothers of the Disappeared | May 19, 2008 6:01 PM

sockpuppeting 101

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 19, 2008 6:04 PM

By the way, I think you meant order of magnitude, not logarithm. Or you could have said "...America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but the log base 10 has been increased by 1." It would have been easier to have said "ratcheted up not by a notch, but ten notches." Or even eleven. Eleven is one more, after all.

Oh. Google said this guy complained about this way back then.

The other weird thing is the cold, firm, steel-like hardness of the ratcheting metaphor. As things ratchet up or ratchet higher, they are non-negotiable nailed at that point, unable to go back even slightly. That's the nature of ratcheting effect, right?

Whereas soft power, is, you know. Soft?

Posted by elenchos | May 19, 2008 6:09 PM

#1 has a good point. I'd rather choose my president based on what I want, not what some jackass in a cave doesn't want.

Heaping scorn and ridicule on bin Laden as he further marginalizes himself is just a side benefit.

Posted by Greg | May 19, 2008 6:12 PM

Yeah, #1 hit it on the head. When Osama Bin Caveman in influencing the decision making process Americans as to our leadership choices, haven't the terrorists won?

Obama for Victory against creepy cave dudes everywhere!

Posted by Gabe | May 19, 2008 6:19 PM

The NYT had an oped a few days ago trying to sell this; the idea that the Muslim world would regard Obama as an apostate was roundly derided in the response letters - by people who seemed to have the credentials to know what they were talking about.

Posted by Terry | May 19, 2008 6:25 PM

What? I can vote for a guy who drives the fundamentalist Muslim angry-angries crazy AND who drives the right wing Chreeschin screechies in America crazy, too? WIN-WIN!

Posted by CP | May 19, 2008 6:58 PM

Er, the two paragraphs you just cited are far from mutually exclusive. It's entirely possible that an Obama presidency would both be used as recruiting propaganda by the jihadis and might install some doubts in the minds of the people they're trying to recruit.

I know for damn sure who's opinion I care more about, and it isn't the mass murderer in the cave.

Posted by Doctor Memory | May 19, 2008 7:01 PM

Dr. Memory @ 10 hits the nail on the head, but the real question is what does Osama bin Laden think about Josh Feit leaving The Stranger?

Posted by collie | May 19, 2008 7:12 PM

@3 -- are you serious? You missed Josh's very public decision to leave The Stranger and do something else?

Posted by Fnarf | May 19, 2008 7:13 PM

Oh, and two reminders:

a) fundamentalist Muslim angry-angries will hate ANYbody who becomes president of the U.S. He'll be the Great Satan, tool of the Zionists, etc etc. (Would have been fun to see Hillary blow their minds.)

b) Howzabout we elect a President who doesn't fulfill every paranoid belief that Arab nationalists (remember them? I'm sure they're still around) and Muslim fundamentalists have? Instead of our current one? Why, anybody we put into power will ratchet down (in discrete, measureable clicks, heh heh) that "yes, we've really come as Crusaders to colonize you" style we've been sporting.

Oh wait, except for McCain.

Posted by CP | May 19, 2008 7:14 PM

Don't forget these two:

Edward N. Luttwak, "President Apostate?" New York Times, May 12.

Daisy Khan. "Misconceptions About Obama and Islam". Washington Post/On Faith. May 14, 2008.

Posted by bd | May 19, 2008 7:20 PM

I went to the cheese festival with an obama shirt and had two separate Hillary supporters make hateful remarks behind it back (my wife caught it). One was a younger woman making a motion like she was going to kickme in the ass while calling me an obamahead. What is the animosity? Clinton is running a far more devisive campaign. If you assume obama supporters just hate women you are dead wrong. I would love to finally have a woman president. Just not margaret thatcher!

Posted by Todd | May 19, 2008 7:26 PM

#5, I was thinking the same thing. Journalists shouldn't try to talk in math-speak.

Though it's a reminder that race and politics are complicated subjects when North Dakota is "black."

No, it's a reminder that this political cartoon is kind of stupid. Seriously, what? All the states aren't even labeled correctly.

Also yet another reminder of how our society considers a biracial man to be black long before they would consider him white, presumably because "white" represents categorical purity and anything non-pure is de facto "black".

At least that's my take on it. Sadly, I am guilty of this. It probably has more to do with human tendency to categorize entities using primitive methods (our brains interpret Obama as closer in color to a "black" man than a "white" man?) rather than what we know to be true about the entity (Obama is genetically just as much "white" as he is "black").

Posted by w7ngman | May 19, 2008 7:26 PM

Fnarf took the bait.

Posted by Mr. Poe | May 19, 2008 8:03 PM

Fnarf's a dipshit.

Posted by Dick | May 19, 2008 10:06 PM

Wow, an Obama smear posted by a Stranger staffer who is not ECB. What is the world coming to?

Posted by Concerned Viewer | May 19, 2008 10:11 PM

I appreciated Fnarf's link... we can't all read every single slog post.

Posted by Thanks Fnarf | May 19, 2008 10:14 PM

Sock puppetry indeed!

Posted by KeeKee | May 19, 2008 10:46 PM

Conservatives need to come together and make a decision: do they want Obama to be a secret muslim or not?

Posted by Chris in Tampa | May 20, 2008 2:17 AM

Fear and bigotry. Fear and bigotry. Fear and bigotry. That's what wins for Repulicans. Every time.

Posted by Vince | May 20, 2008 6:37 AM

Anyone here read Arabic? This source supposedly says Barack gets a free pass:

"One thing to note: It is not enough to be considered a Murtad Fitri to be born of a Muslim and a Kafir or two Muslims, but to affirm the Shahadas after puberty. If born as such but believed in Judaism or Christianity before puberty, he is not to be considered a Murtad Fitri so that he is killed ... because apostasy requires a Muslim to reject Islam and a child before puberty is not truly Muslim"

Posted by sholom aleichem | May 20, 2008 8:45 AM

bin Laden's chuckling? Why wouldn't he be, he's been public enemy #1 for almost 7 years and laughing in the face of the 'most powerful nation on Earth'.

We're in a quamire in Iraq, and guaranteeing our demise by investing nothing in the future. It's a fucking joke alright, and I'm sure he's enjoying it. Obama elected is not what the enemy wants b/c he might actually get this ship turned, but, when I see stories like this from the CSM, I have to think that Haliburton, KBR or Blackwater are trying to stamp any thoughts of diplomacy and changing course.

Posted by left coast | May 20, 2008 9:26 AM


Sounds like another good reason to find and capture Osama Bin Laden.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | May 20, 2008 11:34 AM

Even though Obama's father's family background is muslim, Obama's father was an athiest. Therefore Obama himself was not born into a muslim family and cannot be considered an apostate. The Christian Science Monitor is wrong, and Edward Luttwak in the NYT doesn't know what he's talking about in the least. Since when does being a military strategist at CSIS qualify a person to be an expert on Islamic jurisprudence?

Does anyone seriously think that anyone with a jones to kill an American president would be given pause by who that president is? Killing the commander-in-chief of the U.S. army would be a tremendous coup for any ambitious militant, be the president Bush, Obama, McCain, Clinton or Alex Rodriguez.

Besides, Obama's background will not change the way security operates for the president. Doesn't the secret service act as if the president is in constant danger already?

Posted by msl | May 20, 2008 12:38 PM

Edward Luttwak in the NYT doesn't know what he's talking about in the least. Since when does being a military strategist at CSIS qualify a person to be an expert on Islamic jurisprudence?

Luttwak, a strategist, could have two strategies behind his entry in the Fearmonger's Forum: 1. Keep people from voting for Obama, lest he be killed. 2. Continue the drumbeat of fear, uncertainty, doubt, and hatred regarding those ee-vul Islamists who want to exterminate us Judeo-Christians.

I googled the chick in the Monitor to find out she is a contract worker for the Marine Corps. Likely she found it in her own best interest to write her fear mongering essay. I kinda doubt she's a Muslim, so why doesn't she fear a fatwa against her?

Posted by jimmie the dhimmi | May 20, 2008 3:19 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).