It’s no slur to be called a Muslim

ObamaTurbanNaomi Klein on Barack Obama’s response to the “Muslim smear” campaign:

“What is disturbing about the campaign’s response is that it leaves unchallenged the disgraceful and racist premise behind the entire ‘Muslim smear’: that being Muslim is de facto a source of shame. Obama’s supporters often say they are being ‘Swift-boated’ (a pejorative term derived from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against the 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry), casually accepting the idea that being accused of Muslimhood is tantamount to being accused of treason.

“Substitute another faith or ethnicity, and you’d expect a very different response. Consider a report from the archives of the Nation. Thirteen years ago Daniel Singer, the magazine’s late Europe correspondent, went to Poland to cover a presidential election. He reported that the race had descended into an ugly debate over whether one of the candidates, Aleksander Kwasniewski, was a closet Jew. The press claimed his mother was buried in a Jewish cemetery (she was still alive), and a popular TV show aired a skit featuring the Christian candidate dressed as a Hassidic Jew. ‘What perturbed me,’ Singer said, ‘was that Kwasniewski’s lawyers threatened to sue for slander rather than press for an indictment under the law condemning racist propaganda’.

“We should expect no less of the Obama campaign. When asked during the Ohio debate about Louis Farrakhan’s support for his candidacy, Obama did not hesitate to call Farrakhan’s antisemitic comments ‘unacceptable and reprehensible’. When the turban photo flap came up in the same debate, he used the occasion to say nothing at all.”

Guardian, 1 March 2008