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November 21, 2007

Comments

"A comment about "political DNA" isn't a comment about actual DNA, you know."

I know a great deal about one, but not nearly as much about the other. I may have misunderstood, but it seemed to me that you were asserting that Repubs try to whip up fear of The Other. I don't believe they are any more susceptible to this than any other party. The Know Nothing Party they ain't. (insert obligatory joke about Bush here)

Crimso, perhaps you should read up on post-WII US political history. The word 'Dixiecrat' might be a good place to start.

Barry, you might want to read up on post-WWII US political history. The names "Robert Byrd" and "Al Gore, Sr." might be a good place to start.

I mean seriously, does anyone here believe GW Bush would be given the pass that Byrd is given if he had been a member of the KKK? But it's okay, because Gary Farber has declared that racism is in the Repub political DNA.

"But it's okay, because Gary Farber has declared that racism is in the Repub political DNA."

I didn't say that.

Use of fear of the Other is what I said was in the political DNA.

"I mean seriously, does anyone here believe GW Bush would be given the pass that Byrd is given if he had been a member of the KKK?"

G. W. Bush would be a very different person if he'd have been born in 1917, wouldn't he?

And he'd have done all sorts of different things from the things he did in this reality, in that case.

In which case, we'd judge him differently, wouldn't we?

We don't know what sort of person he'd be, had he been born in 1917 in West Virginia, but whatever that person was, it would be appropriate to judge him for his acts, rather than those of another.

Just as we judge the acts of G. W. Bush in reality, and Robert Byrd, on their own.

What do you suggest is an appropriate response to Robert Byrd's having been in the Klan from mid-1942 to early 1943?

Crimso is playing a familiar Republican game about Senator Byrd. It starts by bidding "Byrd gets a pass because he's Democratic." Except that in reality he doesn't get a pass--liberal and left-wing activists about race aren't at all wild about Byrd, nor are people concerned with other social justice issues. What he gets credit for is demonstrated honesty: he admits his past, he doesn't try to say it was anyone else's fault, and he's showing a willingness to do better now. So he's living up to the basic job of being a person in changing times, which is learning and responding to what you've learned. He's worked hard to overcome the limitations of his younger self's outlook, and to make the US the kind of nation where fewer people will grow up with those blinkers in the future.

Republican officials with pasts that include organized racism could earn the same respect by doing the same things. 1. Admit it. 2. Deal with it, showing in here-and-now terms their willingness to live and vote differently. Of course that requires genuinely acting as though racism is a bad thing, and since it's foundational to movement conservatism we don't need to sit around holding our breath waiting for it.

I correct myself: Social-justice activists do give Byrd full credit for what he says and does, starting with his voting record. He votes responsibly when it comes to addressing race-related issues now. He was also one of not nearly enough senators to vote against the war on Iraq in 2003. He's always had huge resolve, and wherever it is he thinks he should be standing at the moment, he does stand firm. What I wanted to suggest but garbled is that he still is in a lot of ways a, well, southern conservative Democrat, and the ongoing struggle for social justice in law would benefit sometimes by having more legislators with more liberal temperaments. But he's not on any special leash that I'm aware of anymore than he's given that mythical pass conservative racists imagine; he's treated [i]just the same[/i] as every other legislator when it comes to supporting and opposing measures here and now.

"Crimso is playing a familiar Republican game about Senator Byrd."

No kidding?

But it's a holiday weekend, and slow.

Of course, there are many people who could be referred to thusly, only replacing the groups you cited with, say, Republicans, religious people, white Southern males, firearm owners, etc. etc.

There are lots of people who look down on, make fun of, and otherwise hold a variety of prejudices toward the folks you name. The reciprocal prejudice, however, is towards effete coastal elites and liberal class snobs, not the folks Gary originally cited.

The folks Gary cited are commonly called out these days as presenting an existential threat to the nation. A different kind of fear-mongering altogether.

You're correct to note that Republicans haven't always embraced racism, and also correct to note that many if not most Republicans aren't, personally, particularly racist. Republicans have, however, deliberately aligned themselves with domestic racism for their own electoral advantage for the last 40 years. Lay down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

The Know Nothing Party they ain't.

Maybe so. There are, however, lots of folks nowadays who subscribe, still, to the Know Nothing agenda. To the degree that those folks align with any major American political party, it's the Republicans.

Republicans may not be Know Nothings, but they offer them a generous welcome.

Thanks -

Crimso: I mean seriously, does anyone here believe GW Bush would be given the pass that Byrd is given if he had been a member of the KKK?

Byrd was 24 when he joined the KKK, and 25 when he left it, back in 1942-43. So the equivalent would be if George W. Bush had joined the KKK in 1970-71. In fact, at that time Bush was doing something very different with his time, but yeah, it's fair to say, I think, that a young man who joined the KKK in 1970 would be looked upon very differently to a young man who did so in 1942.

If we're going back to 1942, however, you might want to consider that George W. Bush has never been asked any public questions (to my knowledge) about his grandfather's financial connections with the Nazi party. He and his father have both had a free ride on that one. I suppose you might argue that this scandal touched Prescott Bush, not his son or grandson, but it was a pretty big scandal.

Moving on to more recent financial scandals, you might want to consider George W. Bush's financial links with the bin Laden family: James Bath, a close family friend of George W. Bush, was in 1979 the sole business representative in the US for Osama bin Laden's older brother, and who had (and still has) extensive financial links both with the bin Laden family and with BCCI, the bank that has funded Osama bin Laden, is also one of the investors in the Arbusto company, Bush's first attempt to be a businessman. This is the first direct example of George W. Bush dealing with the bin Laden family, but it's far from the last - and yet, whenever Bush is asked about finding Osama bin Laden (seldom enough) he's given a completely free ride about his close financial links with the bin Laden family.

Still trying to play "the media is mean to Bush"?

Sorry folks. Didn't mean to get in the way of the echoes. Oh, and Jesurgislac, thanks for tipping me off to the types of thought processes that some of the regular posters here employ. Bush=Hitler ("I'm not saying, I'm just asking questions"), nice one. Trutherism, also really intellectually honest as well. And spare me the "But that's not what I said." I know exactly what you mean.

Crimso: Sorry folks. Didn't mean to get in the way of the echoes.

Ah, good one. Rather than defend the indefensible, you troll and run. Only thing to do, really, faced with the fact that Prescott Bush's links with the Nazi party and George W. Bush's links with Osama bin Laden are considerably more scandalous - and considerably more ignored by US media - than Robert Byrd's long ago and long regretted brief membership of the KKK.

Sorry folks. Didn't mean to get in the way of the echoes.

Be sorry when you actually get in the way. You can only do that when you bring something solid to the table.

You're bring given every chance to engage in substantive debate--it's pretty pathetic when you cut and run or spew soundbytes. It gives the impression that that's all the right is capable of.

I'm thinking that the handle gives us a pretty interesting view into the thought processes here. I'm assuming Crimso is something like 'so crimson', i.e. red stater, and supports things not because they are conservative or liberal, but because people in the red parts support those things. I respect someone who is a true conservative in the Burkean sense, trying to determine what things are worthy of being retained and arguing against change in those cases, but someone who simply defines him/herself as a bundle of ideas that are often contradictory, kinda sad.

Of course, could be an Alabama fan, which would really be sad...

Calling someone a movement conservastive is one thing, but a 'Bama fan? You're cold, LJ, supercold.

Realizing that my only argument here is that I speak some Arabic, I'm just going to note once more that madrassah is, in fact, Arabic for school. Not religious school. Not school intended to brainwash young minds into becoming suicide bombers. Just school.

Which begs a question: how do Arabic speakers distinguish between a religious school of the type that American English-speakers currently associate with the word "madrassah" and a school that teaches a curriculum intended to prepare students for, say, an engineering college?

With adjectives....

By the way, I think many of you did jump on Crimso excessively, responding in a snide way to his initially quite acceptable comments, prompting the discussion to go south quickly.

I have to say that it is effective. “madrassah” means just one thing to me. OTOH I’m almost equally leery of his 2 years in a Catholic school…

On the one foot, I don’t dislike Keith Ellison because he is Muslim (or black), I just think he is wrong on many issues.

On the other foot, Obama touting elementary school as foreign policy experience is just dumb, and self-defeating.

I am now out of appendages…

OCSteve: I am now out of appendages….

...I hope not. ;-)

“madrassah” means just one thing to me.

Well the point of this thread is that it shouldn't, unless that one thing is 'school'. Otherwise, why willfully persist in maintaining a demonstrably inaccurate and damaging notion?

Obama touting elementary school as foreign policy experience is just dumb, and self-defeating.
I don't know if it's dumb and self-defeating as electoral politics, but for me it is an entirely sensible and justified claim. American foreign policy has been flown right into the ground in the past few years because it is in the hands of a provincial, ignorant, and xenophobic zealots. Maybe someone who knows, for example, that schools are simply schools for the vast majority of Muslims will have a better chance of conducting a sensible Middle East policy.

Thanks for the civility, Byrningman. For the curious, it's a nic for one of my favorite bands. And living about 15 miles from Alabama, I proudly consider myself as part of the first line of defense against it. And I don't call myself anything like a conservative. That's a label others (not just those here who know nothing about me and want to hear my ideas even less) put on me.

I'd like to point out that what sticks out to me in the above comments, is the presence of a "rhetorical" technique I can best illustrate with the following. A while back Jim Rome responded to an email in which the writer took issue with a characterization Rome had made previously of Batman and Robin as gay. Rome hilariously went on to say that he never said B & R were gay, and that he never would say that. "I'm just saying that they're two young bachelors, living together, that wear tights, and have utility belts containing sexually-ambiguous devices, and they have a butler named Alfred. That's all I'm saying. I never said they were gay." Great technique for comedy, not so great for rhetoric. And it's so very difficult to keep up when everyone is siding against you (thanks for admitting there are echoes in here, gwangung), so I can't possibly do more than respond to the most obvious fallacies or falsehoods, and I'm truly having trouble keeping up with even those. Let me return to what I originally took issue with (and leave the crackpot Truther and Bush=Hitler "arguments" out of it (you think they "bring something solid to the table" Gwangung?). Gary Farber asserted fear of the Other was part of the Repub political DNA (a nicely vague term upon the meaning of which he can easily backpedal), listing various transgressions from time immemorial, presumably meaning (though he will likely invoke the Batman and Robin technique and say "I never said that!") that they should be held against the Repubs (and failing to note that at least one of his examples was from a Dem, though I tried to help him out on that). He then proceeds to insist that Byrd should be judged as a product of his times and forgiven his clearly and indisputably documented racist (and not your garden-variety racist, mind you, but the frickin' KKK!!!) past. But the Repubs from a century ago (to whom he wrongly attributes Yellow Peril; wonder what else he's not correct about?), not so much. I don't comment on blogs often, though I read them a lot. I don't come here to comment in order to set you straight (though if I feel someone is wrong I will say so), I come here to try to figure out why you think the way you do, measure that against what I think and why I think it, then take the best and leave the rest.

Now, fire away!

Jes: I hope not.

Heh. Couldn’t think of a tactful way to fit that one in. Other threads maybe…


Byrningman: Well the point of this thread is that it shouldn't, unless that one thing is 'school'. Otherwise, why willfully persist in maintaining a demonstrably inaccurate and damaging notion?

I didn’t say it was right or wrong or accurate – just that currently it means one thing to me. Most of what I know about these schools has to do with the worldwide Saudi influence on them. What I know of them is the alarmist perspective. So I appreciate this post and the comments.


but for me it is an entirely sensible and justified claim.

Sorry – but I don’t get that. I know I’ve said it before, but I lived in foreign countries for years and I seriously doubt you would think that gives me presidential-level foreign policy experience, and it shouldn’t. It means squat. It means I know what a good beer or white wine is and how to cook a mean Wiener schnitzel.

Let me return to what I originally took issue with (and leave the crackpot Truther and Bush=Hitler "arguments" out of it (you think they "bring something solid to the table" Gwangung?)

Since you were the one mentioning that, no, you're not bringing anything to the table.

Now stop that strawman crap and focus on the more substantive parts of your argument. The strain of xenophobia that runs in American politics is certainly not restricted to one party; however, you're going to need to argue who, on the whole, have been benefitting immigrants more over the long term. Picking out xenophobia from either party is an easy thing to do; putting it into context is harder.

I think that the type of foreign experince Obama hadd is important. His connnection is to third world countries with religous traditions quite different from ours. Also he lived there--he wasn't a tourist. He has relatives in Kenya and Indonnesia. that's a whole different ball game then spending a tour of duty on a base in Germany or wintering in Cancun.

Bush has no experience in foreign affairs, unless you count his years as governor of Texas, and his advisors, many of whom were considered experts, turned about to be a bunch of crack pots. Maybe it's time for a Presidennt who has a sense of what ordinary life is like in such varied places as Indonesia and Kennya.

Crimso,
from your first comment
But I am certain there are people reading this that are bigots, just not the kind you think.

You might get a bit more civility if you don't try to slyly suggest that people here in general (and Gary in particular) are bigots. If you think suggesting that we take the best and leave the rest means you get a pass on bs like that, please rethink your commenting strategy.

"Since you were the one mentioning that, no, you're not bringing anything to the table."

Ahh ahh ahh. I most certainly did NOT inject that into this thread, so you can stop "that strawman crap." Since you say that it is not bringing anything to the table, I would suggest Jesurgislac pipe down so as not to upset Gwangung ;)

"if you don't try to slyly suggest that people here in general (and Gary in particular) are bigots."

Perhaps you missed the sentence preceding the one you quoted:

"Now I don't know you at all, so I don't know if you have contempt for any of the groups I listed. But I am certain there are people reading this that are bigots, just not the kind you think."

Let me reiterate: I don't know Gary Farber (though his name sounds vaguely familiar), so it would be foolish of me to assume things like that about him (though I'll note that others have made some foolish assumptions about me). Given the comments of his I've read here, I suspect he's not some 15 year-old idiot posting from his parents' basement. When I have remarked on his comments, his replies give me the distinct feeling he does think that about me. I'm not here to get anyone's approval, as I really don't care what anybody else thinks of me. But if you want to ever have any chance of swaying anyone with your rhetoric, you really should be a little more accomodating and less contemptuous (or perhaps it's only sarcasm).

And let me make another thing clear. "But I am certain there are people reading this that are bigots," would be true regardless of where I posted it.

Crimso: When I have remarked on his comments, his replies give me the distinct feeling he does think that about me.

Don't take it too personally. Gary responds that way to everybody.

I most certainly did NOT inject that into this thread

Actually, you did, if you mean your claim that "Bush=Hitler". That was wholly you, and only you. Nice of you to blame it on me because I pointed out Bush scandals as old as the Byrd scandal that are ignored by the "liberal media", and a good strawman way to ignore the point I was making.

By the way, Crimso, we have a meta-blog (Taking It Outside) that is meant for debating things like personal comments about other commenters...

wonkie: I think that the type of foreign experince Obama hadd is important. His connnection is to third world countries with religous traditions quite different from ours. Also he lived there--he wasn't a tourist. He has relatives in Kenya and Indonnesia. that's a whole different ball game then spending a tour of duty on a base in Germany or wintering in Cancun.

Assuming that is addressed at me – my goal is to winter in Cancun. ;)

It’s not just a matter of “spending a tour of duty on a base in Germany”. I lived “on the economy” meaning off base. My neighbors were German. I got out of the Army and continued to live there for years as a civilian. Much of my daily interaction was with Germans. I shopped in German stores, drank (great) beer in the Gasthauses, and talked politics there. I followed the government doings during that time. I was an adult at the time. I visited most of the countries now in the EU and it wasn’t in any ritzy fashion – it was spending time with the poorest in those countries.

Based on that, my foreign policy cred beats Obama by a factor of ten at least. Elementary school in Indonesia? What do you recall of those years (elementary school)? You really don’t want me running the country’s foreign policy right?

I actually think Obama is one of the more interesting candidates, and if he gets the nod there is a chance I will vote for him. But not based on his proclaimed foreign policy experience. He needs to focus on something else…


Bush has no experience in foreign affairs, unless you count his years as governor of Texas

You really want to stand by that? (Not Bush – the Texas thing.)

we have a meta-blog (Taking It Outside) that is meant for debating things like personal comments about other commenters...

And since OCSteve is back from burning down the forest, the lamp is lit

Steve, i wasn't snarking at you. I didn't kow you were stationed inn Germany. i was just thiking of typical sorts of foreign experiences Americans have. But I do think that experience in a couuntry as similar to ours as Germany is not as educatinal as experience in a country that is dissimilar.

I was joking about Texas being foreign--but have you ever been there? Definately foreign to me.

Actually I don't care much that a President have expertise in particular area. I mean how could a person possibly knnow enough about the economy, history, foreign affairs, policy issues etc? I just want a President who can pick good advisors.

Let me return to what I originally took issue with.... Gary Farber asserted fear of the Other was part of the Repub political DNA

I don't know if I agree with Gary that "fear of the Other" is baked into Republican DNA, nor do I necessarily agree with his historical analysis, but I do agree that the "fear of the Other" plays a large role in Republican rhetoric *today*. It's not unique to Republicans, but it's prevalent enough among them to make the association between Republicans and xenophobia a credible one, here and now.

Your counterexample -- social prejudice against religious people, southern white males, gun owners -- isn't *false* -- that prejudice certainly exists. I just don't think it's to the point.

Political xenophobia -- a paranoid fear of the "Other" -- is really different in quality than social snobbery or resentment. The "other" is an existential threat, utterly unlike us, who cannot be trusted or negotiated with in good faith. Dopey redneck goobers and/or cheese-eating liberal snobs may be objects of derision, they may be disliked, or even hated, but you generally don't feel the need to pre-emptively nuke them.

When folks imply, or openly state, that Obama is a crypto-Muslim, they aren't saying he's an annoying snob, or that he doesn't understand "regular folks". They're saying he's the Manchurian candidate, a political stealth bomb, a mole for the Other Side.

It's not the same.

Thanks -

Wonkie: i was just thiking of typical sorts of foreign experiences Americans have.

True enough – and I do know those Americans. Sorry if I responded when it wasn’t directed at me.

Have I been to Texas – hell yeah and I felt right at home. But I feel at home in Ted Kennedy’s back yard as well.

I just want a President who can pick good advisors.

Amen. On that we can agree completely.

I get the feeling (from over here) that Obama has to play up his overseas experience precisely because of the underground smear campaign that G'Kar points out. If he fails to talk about his experiences overseas, he gets accused of hiding something, but when he talks about it, he gets accused of playing it up too much. Of course, it is sadly too much to expect the other Democratic candidates to step up to Obama's defense on this, because that would be putting the spotlight on him rather than on their own campaigns.

It’s not just a matter of “spending a tour of duty on a base in Germany”. I lived “on the economy” meaning off base. My neighbors were German.

Hey OC-

That's all good, but in our current historical and political context, the fact that Obama lived in a poor, Muslim, Asian nation, at whatever age, may in fact be a uniquely valuable asset from a foreign policy perspective.

Not just another country, but a particular kind of other country.

Thanks -

OCSteve--

I feel at home in Ted Kennedy’s back yard as well.

You've been stalking Senator Kennedy? Ah, you Republicans are all alike! :)

"Of course, it is sadly too much to expect the other Democratic candidates to step up to Obama's defense on this"

HRC probably isn't feeling very charitable towards a guy who's using Jeff Gerth framing against her among other cheap shots; Edwards may not want to encourage the whispers that he's attacking Clinton to their mutual detriment with an eye towards another shot at VP. And, well, they're competing with him, and he's not rushing to combat the haircut nonsense or the Hillary-eats-puppies line of the week as far as I know. Still I bet if either were asked directly they would do the right thing, esp. as Fox is the main source of the smear.

fair point, rf, but I think that the madrassah nonsense has been percolating a bit longer than those slights (wasn't the look at Romney's missionary experience in France about the same time?) I guess I should be happy that the dems have 3 solid candidates.

Crimso: (to whom he wrongly attributes Yellow Peril; wonder what else [Gary Farber]'s not correct about?)

Good question: what else isn't he correct about? Bullet points will be fine, thanks.

But if you want to ever have any chance of swaying anyone with your rhetoric, you really should be a little more accomodating and less contemptuous (or perhaps it's only sarcasm).

No offense, but lecturing people on civility when a) you've just joined the community and b) you've been uncivil yourself is exceptionally poor form. I'm sorry you received a brusque welcome; that doesn't really palliate your initial post in this thread, though.

"Political xenophobia -- a paranoid fear of the "Other" -- is really different in quality than social snobbery or resentment. The "other" is an existential threat, utterly unlike us, who cannot be trusted or negotiated with in good faith. Dopey redneck goobers and/or cheese-eating liberal snobs may be objects of derision, they may be disliked, or even hated, but you generally don't feel the need to pre-emptively nuke them."

I highly recommend reading this, from Richard Hofstader in 1964. True then, true today: the places where one can insert trivial updates of references are obvious.

That's how one recognizes the classics.

Thanks for the link, Gary. I was particularly taken with the following in Hofstadter's essay:

Mr. Welch, for example, has charged that the popularity of Arnold Toynbee’s historical work is the consequence of a plot on the part of Fabians, “Labour party bosses in England,” and various members of the Anglo-American “liberal establishment” to overshadow the much more truthful and illuminating work of Oswald Spengler.

I must admit, such a suspicion has never before crossed my mind.

"I must admit, such a suspicion has never before crossed my mind."

Oh, well, digressively, passionate arguments between followers of Spengler and Toynbee are old hat. Heck, in the Fifties, James Blish used the differences to underly his "Cities In Flight" series of novels, with a lengthy afterword devoted to explaining how (with the mouthful title of "Probapossible Prolegomena to Ideareal History").

People with certain types of grandly sweeping and encompassing theories, which aren't particularly adopted by the mainstream, tend to attract among their followers a considerable number of folks prone to crackpot and semi-crackpot ideas, frankly. Spengler and Toynbee are among the most sane examples of that sort of focus. (Or, for another example of a more modern type prone to crackpot followers and offshoot ideas, see Samuel L. Huntington.)

...cheese-eating liberal snobs may be objects of derision, they may be disliked, or even hated, but you generally don't feel the need to pre-emptively nuke them.

Seems to me that the right-wing chowder heads have repeated expressed a desire to pre-emptively nuke "cheese-eating liberal snobs" (cf Coulter, O'LIEly, etc.)

Substantiatively, I don't think Obama's growing up in Indonesia means much, but for a certain segment of the population, it is politically useful.


For effete liberal snobs like me who have family all over the world and have traveled to many countries, growing up in Indonesia signals that Obama doesn't suffer from the classic American ignorance of how the rest of the world works.


I'm not saying that everyone who spends a few years in a foreign elementary school is automatically better at dealing with foreign policy than people who grow up in rural all white towns in the US. But I believe that there is a correlation: people I know who have never spent serious time outside the US are more likely to have (what I consider to be) insane foreign policy beliefs. Part of it may just be the humility associated with being forced to realize that some ideas you hold about people are wrong.


For people like me, Obama's statement screams "I'm not ignorant about life outside the US", and that means something. It doesn't mean nearly as much to me as the list of foreign policy advisers he's chosen, but for people like me who aren't following the race as closely...


For the small chunk of the population that finds themselves frustrated and angry at how insular Americans are and about how ignorant they are of what life is like outside their borders, that kind of signaling is useful. Since every damn candidate has to swear fealty to hunting and NASCAR, a little red meat for the internationalists among us couldn't hurt.

“Every kid in the Arabic-speaking [world?] goes to a madrassah. Madrassah is Arabic for school.”

Maybe in the Arabic-speaking world, but that is not the meaning imparted to the word in the U.S. KCinDC has it right:

“And of course in English ‘madrassa’ seems to mean something like ‘school run by Islamic extremists’, so it's completely wrong to say that Obama attended one.” -KCinDC

Absolutely (on the meaning of madrassa and that it was wrong to say that he attended one). The usage under discussion is the common usage in the USA today, such as here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/saudi/analyses/madrassas.html and

http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/26014.pdf

It would not have been a slur if it just meant “school,” right? Obama went to a public school that only spends (from what I can see) a few hours a week on religious education (and I take it Obama went to Islamic classes although I didn’t see that actually stated).

The DOS doc above states the following about madrassahs:

“Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Islamic religious schools known as madrasas (or madrassahs) in the Middle East, Central, and Southeast Asia have been of increasing interest to U.S. foreign policymakers. Some allege ties between madrasas and terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda, and assert that these religious schools promote Islamic extremism and militancy. Others maintain that most of these religious schools have been blamed unfairly for fostering anti-U.S. sentiments and for producing terrorists. This report provides an overview of madrasas, of their role in the Muslim world and issues related to their alleged financing by Saudi Arabia and other external donors.”

The report says the following about Indonesia:

“Currently, the popularity of madrasas is rising inparts of Southeast Asia. For example in Indonesia, home to the largest number of Muslims in the world, almost 20-25% of primary and secondary school children attend pesantrens (Islamic religious schools).19 In contrast to most madrasas, Indonesian pesantrens have been noted for teaching a moderate form of Islam, one that encompasses Islamic mysticism or Sufism. However, the Saudi-based charity al-Haramayn, some branches of which have been named by the U.S. government as conduits for terrorism, reportedly was operating some educational institutions in Indonesia20 prior to the Saudi government’s 2003 order requiring al-Haramayn to close all of its operations worldwide.”

In short, “Arabic 101” is off the mark as far as I can see just based on current usage in the U.S. However, it is certainly unfair to say Obama attended madrassah.

“It's in the Republican political DNA, I'm afraid.” “Now I don't know you at all, so I don't know if you have contempt for any of the groups I listed. But I am certain there are people reading this that are bigots, just not the kind you think.”

In defense of Crimso, I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. Gary’s comment above painted with a broad brush and implied to me that all Repubs are xenophobic. Crimso’s point that phobias of “others” abound on both sides of the aisle is certainly true. Gary clarified. Crimso clarified and even conceded that he may have misunderstood Gary. Enough said. No reason to take that outside IMHO (although LJ, I appreciate the forum).

For the small chunk of the population that finds themselves frustrated and angry at how insular Americans are and about how ignorant they are of what life is like outside their borders, that kind of signaling is useful. Since every damn candidate has to swear fealty to hunting and NASCAR, a little red meat for the internationalists among us couldn't hurt.

The arrogant will have no red meat served to them...

For effete liberal snobs like me who have family all over the world and have traveled to many countries, growing up in Indonesia signals that Obama doesn't suffer from the classic American ignorance of how the rest of the world works.

I'm not saying that everyone who spends a few years in a foreign elementary school is automatically better at dealing with foreign policy than people who grow up in rural all white towns in the US. But I believe that there is a correlation: people I know who have never spent serious time outside the US are more likely to have (what I consider to be) insane foreign policy beliefs. Part of it may just be the humility associated with being forced to realize that some ideas you hold about people are wrong.

For people like me, Obama's statement screams "I'm not ignorant about life outside the US", and that means something. It doesn't mean nearly as much to me as the list of foreign policy advisers he's chosen, but for people like me who aren't following the race as closely...

What "Turbulence" said. With bells on.

I lived briefly overseas as a child, and then extensively as an adult (more than half my life from age twenty onward). This did NOT make me an expert on foreign affairs, by any means; that would have required extensive study, which I did not undertake.

OTOH, it also freed me perforce from the automatic assumption - held by too many other Americans, including some politicians - that the American Way is the Only Way or even (necessarily) the Best Way Under All Circumstances.

This was a salutary experience for me, and the fact that Obama shares and recognizes it strikes me as a plus, albeit not a huge PLUS, in his column.


And with a front-page story featuring the Republican rumor-smear campaign, the Washington Post enthusiastically joins the effort to implant the Obama=Muslim meme:

"Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him"

Why, yes. So they do. Some of them have quite powerful tools at their disposal -- like the front pages of one of the nation's most influential newspapers.

Josh Marshall cogently lays out why the Post's story and its prominent placement are offensive, but for my money Bernhard at Moon of Alabama does the best job of showing what's most offensive about it, for those afflicted by double standards.

With the bonus in another post of an interesting bit of analysis of Syria's presence at the Annapolis gathering.

See TPM for a link to Bacon's totally lame, point-missing response to the criticism. I'm not anywhere near as furious with Bacon as I am with the editor who decided not only to run this but to front-page it. He/she should be answering to the public.

Can't wait to see what dodge Post "ombudsman" Deborah Howell will use to miss the point, if she addresses Bacon's story and its placement at all.

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