Ellison among frustrated Muslim Obama supporters

Barack Obama came under fire when his campaign refused to allow two Muslim women wearing head scarves to sit behind him at a Detroit rally two weeks ago. Now another incident has surfaced and it involves U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.
Ellison is quoted in a June 24 New York Times story by Andrea Elliott, who won a 2007 Pulitzer for her coverage of a New York imam living in post-9/11 America. (Disclosure: Elliott and I are friends from when we attended Columbia University School of Journalism.)
Ellison recounts about how he eagerly wanted to help Obama in Iowa, volunteering to speak for the candidate at a mosque in Cedar Rapids, where there’s a longstanding Muslim community. But Ellison was asked to cancel the trip.

From the Times: “I will never forget the quote,” Mr. Ellison said, leaning forward in his chair as he recalled the aide’s words. “He said, ‘We have a very tightly wrapped message.’ ”
The issue, of course, is that Obama has been ignorantly confused or smeared as being a Muslim, which automatically makes him a terrorist. Ridiculous, of course, but it’s toxic enough for Obama.
And another quote from Ellison regarding Obama’s Muslim conundrum: “A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Marcia Lynx Qualey on 07/03/2008 - 11:14 am.

    GRA Jr.:

    Please don’t repeat that goofiness that Obama being called a Muslim is a “smear.” You could say it’s incorrect. Or a misguided compliment.

  2. Submitted by Aaron Landry on 07/03/2008 - 09:53 am.

    As much as I generally side with Ellison’s idealism, we’re not going to be able to end racism before the November election. Barack Obama, and his campaign, has the right ethics but has to focus on winning in a country, that, well, like most places in the world, has a bunch of racists and bigots.

    Making sure he’s elected while working hard for racial and religious equality are not mutually exclusive unfortunately.

  3. Submitted by Joel Jensen on 07/03/2008 - 01:00 pm.

    As far as I know, John McCain is not an atheist.

    When the intent of a lie is to ‘smear’ it is probably not a ‘misguided compliment’ and while in this case the description being used is certainly ‘incorrect’, that term makes it sound like an innocent mistake which in many cases it certainly is not.

    When the effect (if the lie is believed) is to make it less likely that almost half of the voters would support the candidate for president, the intent can be pretty clearly determined – even without the addition of the poisonous context that the lie often appears in.

    The fact that someone does not believe in God would not make it less likely that I would vote for them.

    Over 60% of Americans recently polled on that question beg to differ.

    So if I engineered and widely disseminated a viral email that spread the lie that John McCain was an atheist, to me it might be merely incorrect or a misguided compliment – at worst I would look at it as a smear against atheists.

    To many of McCain’s potential supporters, to his campaign and to many in the press my guess is that it would be categorized as a smear.

    The better question is how far we should ask our politicians to go during a campaign to change the hearts of 45% of the populace for whom ‘being a Muslim’ would make it less likely that they would support that candidate for President and whether that effort would be more successful if the person was a US Senator or US President.

    The polls in the following articles open an interesting and disturbing window into the lingering prejudices harbored by the American voting public. As Obama has often said, “we have more work to do.”



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