Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kristof: 'Otherizing' Obama

Nicholas Kristof is concerned and worried.

In his The Push to ‘Otherize’ Obama, he claims that

What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.

He explains:

Here’s a sad monument to the sleaziness of this presidential campaign: Almost one-third of voters “know” that Barack Obama is a Muslim or believe that he could be. In short, the political campaign to transform Mr. Obama into a Muslim is succeeding. The real loser as that happens isn’t just Mr. Obama, but our entire political process.

A Pew Research Center survey released a few days ago found that only half of Americans correctly know that Mr. Obama is a Christian. Meanwhile, 13 percent of registered voters say that he is a Muslim, compared with 12 percent in June and 10 percent in March.

More ominously, a rising share — now 16 percent — say they aren’t sure about his religion because they’ve heard “different things” about it.

But he makes clear:

To his credit, Mr. McCain himself has never raised doubts about Mr. Obama’s religion. But a McCain commercial last month mimicked the words and imagery of the best-selling Christian “Left Behind” book series in ways that would have set off alarm bells among evangelicals nervous about the Antichrist.

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.

Of course, all the other problems Obama's history and religion presents to the vote is glossed over.

1 comment:

Troy said...

Kristof presents a straw man, of course. I doubt few Americans, Christians or otherwise, sit around pondering Barack Obama's 'otherness'. McCain's use of the term, 'The One', when referring to Obama in one of the McCain ads, is an appellation commonly used by those of us on the Right to poke fun at the altogether creepy personality cult--verging on the messianic--that has sprung up around Barack Obama. Further, Kristof betrays a very typical misunderstanding of evangelical/fundamentalist beliefs and believers. While not a fundamentalist myself, I happen to know several, consider them fellow Christians, and know none who rely upon the 'Left Behind' series as a theological, eschatological guide.