June 29, 2008
Free Speech, the Obama Campaign, and the Washington Post
Barack Obama's campaign efforts to "stop the smears" are quickly morphing into an attack on free speech.
In a June 28 article, "An attack that came out of the Ether", Washington Post reporter Matthew Mosk attacks FreeRepublic.com and falsely associates a 2007 article I wrote with a stupidly written email claiming that Obama's Indonesian step-father was a "radical", that Obama went to a "Wahhabi" school, and that Obama swore his oath of office on a "Kuran". In fact my article, "Obama: Secular Muslim stealth candidate favored by the corrupt?" served to sort out truth from fiction in such emails and takes a wide ranging view of Obama's background.
Mosk sandwiches factual information with nonsense in the hope of getting readers to discount all of it. Anybody who has read Dreams from My Father knows that Obama's step-father Lolo Soetoro was a Muslim who spoke highly of the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman and, "for over a year ... employed (as a cook) a good-natured young man who liked to dress up as a woman on weekends...."(p39) Hardly the image of an Islamic radical.
I challenge Mosk to name even one false statement in my article contained in the email he cites.
Mosk's article leaves little doubt he was writing at the behest an Obama campaign supporter, "razor sharp" "genius" Dr. Danielle Allen at Princeton University. The Obama campaign apparently hopes that with enough effort, uninformed voters only now tuning into the election would reject as "smears" any questions or negative facts presented about Obama's background or record.
The sharp incongruence between reality and Obama's carefully crafted image makes any factual account seem absurd to the uninformed. The effort to label facts as smears is simply a variant of "politically correct" censorship aimed at anybody who questions Obama's candidacy. In an interview posted on the Washington Post site, Allen also suggests that because of the internet, "The basic sorts of protection that the Founders thought we had against (political) factions no longer exist." Allen's argument is dangerous nonsense. Her reference to the Founders seems to imply that constitutional changes are needed to suppress what Allen deems "voting based on falsehoods."
Mosk describes in fawning terms Ms Allen's less-than-impressive ability to search out members of the Free Republic website. He identifies some of them by name and quotes Ms Allen saying: "I started thinking, 'How does one stop it?'"
I hasten to inform Ms Allen, one of the "nation's most brilliant minds", that investigating and reporting on a Presidential candidate cannot be "stopped". In America, free political speech can only be cured by more speech.
Mosk cries: "polls show the number of voters who mistakenly believe Obama is a Muslim rose -- from 8 percent to 13 percent between November 2007 and March 2008."
Fascinating. Some people will believe anything.
Some actually believe the Iraq war is "illegal" even though it has been authorized by the US President, the US Congress, the UN Security Council and the Iraqi government created in three nationwide Iraqi elections.
According to one 2007 poll, as many as 62% of Americans believe it was very likely or somewhat likely the federal government allowed 9-11 to happen.
Who will those geniuses vote for this November? Where is Mosk's outrage at the websites, radio programs, television personalities -- and email rumors -- which have been spreading those lies for years?
After years of "Bush is a fascist", mind-boggling levels of hypocrisy and arrogance are required to suggest that simplistic emails suggesting "Obama is a Muslim" must be "stopped". Such an approach is censorship of the most fundamental type of free speech -- that which relates to elections -- leading quickly to the dissolution of democracy. One might expect that somebody with a double doctorate in classics and government from Cambridge and Harvard would have picked this up somewhere along the line. I learned it in 9th grade civics class.
Here is what passes for genius at Princeton and the Washington Post:
Her eyes fell on this untrue sentence: "ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Kuran (Their equivalency to our Bible, but very different beliefs)."
The use of "their equivalency" and the spelling of "Kuran" instead of "Koran" made the sentence her point of departure.
An exact phrase Google search for "Kuran their equivalency" brings up a paltry 30 links, several of which are re-postings of Mosk's article. Others debunk the email.
In contrast, an exact phrase search for "fascist Bush" brings up 14,000 links.
An exact phrase search for "Muslim Obama" brings up 55,200 links. Many of those reviewed by this writer do not assert that Obama is a Muslim but simply have those two words following each other.
An exact phrase search for "illegal Iraq war" brings up 32,800 links.
All of these are dwarfed by "9/11 conspiracy" which brings up 615,000 links.
Is someone going to give me a $500,000 genius grant now?
Since it is not credible to suggest that a presidential campaign is threatened by a semi-literate email found in only a few obscure places on the internet, it is obvious that the Obama campaign is trying to play the victim card, portray his opponents as ignorant and prejudiced, and create a public predisposition to reject any inconvenient truths revealed about Obama as "smears".
To that end, Mosk implies I was wrong to state in 2007 that Obama was "Raised in Muslim lands and educated in Muslim schools." Barack Obama has frequently emphasized his time in Indonesia, a visit to his Muslim family in Kenya, and also once mentioned a visit to Pakistan during his college years, in making the case that he has the experience to be President. Apparently Obama may speak of these things and nobody may question him. That bodes ill as an indicator of his future conduct as President.
Immediately after the lines Mosk quotes from my 2007 article, I describe a young Obama as: "The picture of the perfect secularist...." That blows the "Obama is a Muslim" smear meme. No problem, Mosk just leaves it out.
There is one clear falsehood from my January, 2007 article -- when I cite the candidate's own words. I quote Obama saying his mother's "parents were non-practicing Baptists and Methodists...." At best, Obama was twisting the facts. Describing his grandfather in Dreams (p17), Obama writes: "In his only skirmish into organized religion, he would enroll the family in the local Unitarian Universalist congregation...."
(Ironically, the basis for Obama's "Baptists and Methodists" claim is that his Kansas grandparents grew up in households which had practiced those religions. Using the exact same logic one could conclude that "Obama is a non-practicing Muslim." But I digress.)
Why would Obama want to hide his grandparents' Unitarian connection? In interviews with the Seattle Times and The Chicago Tribune, classmates of Obama's mother Stanley Ann Dunham recount the Dunhams' late 1950s membership in the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, WA. According to its own website, East Shore Unitarian Church was nicknamed "The Little Red Church on the Hill" because of, "Well-publicized debates and forums on such controversial subjects as the admission of ‘Red China' to the United Nations...."
The "Little Red Church" label was also mentioned in the Chicago Tribune story, but there is more. According to his 2000 obituary, a man named John Stenhouse, once served as church president. This might also have contributed to the "red" label. Stenhouse in 1955 testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee about his membership in the Communist Party, USA.
Stenhouse was also chair of the Mercer Island, WA school board. Time Magazine April 11, 1955 recounts intense debate in the Mercer Island community resulting in a decision that Stenhouse would keep his position. At the height of the McCarthy era, this was unusual. The next year, the Dunhams moved across the bay to Mercer Island in order to admit Stanley Ann Dunham to Mercer Island High School.
Obama is proudly running in part on his youthful foreign experience while demanding that nobody question its meaning. Perhaps he should also tout his grandparents' relocation to a community which stood up to McCarthyism? But instead he hides it.
Mosk also claims I consider the Internet, "more trustworthy than the mainstream media." I said no such thing. Such a statement would be an idiocy. The Internet is a medium, not a message. Most of the "mainstream media" is transmitted via the Internet. My article links 27 times citing sources including Obama's own books and numerous "mainstream media" sources.
About a year before most of the media caught on, my article addressed the Rezko case, parsed out truth from fiction in the questions about Obama's Islamic background-in response to email rumors. In two print articles published on line as one, I also told the story of Obama's early money Hawai`i contributors and their corrupt connections to the Akaka Bill (S310) -- now pending debate before the US Senate.
I informed Mosk of this when he spoke to me for about five minutes after he had emailed me March 20 claiming to be "doing some research on Barack Obama." He said he did not know what the Akaka Bill was. This was odd since the second half of my article posted online dealt exclusively with political developments in Hawai`i relating to the Clinton-era Lincoln Bedroom fundraising scandals, their connection with the 1993 Congressional "Apology Resolution" (US 103-150 which expressed regret for the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarch in 1893), and Hawai`i support for Obama's presidential campaign tied to his support of the Akaka Bill. It seems that Mosk did not read my article before writing about it. He read only an excerpt sent around by email. Is this standard operating procedure at the Post?
A Presidential candidate must be prepared to face extraordinary levels of scrutiny. If Obama and his supporters think they can silence questions about his background, his leftist terror-bomber backers, his ‘God damn America' pastor, his cocaine use, his financial dealings with indicted Syrian-born businessman Tony Rezko.
They also cannot silence my upcoming story on Obama's personal and family ties to members of the Communist Party, USA. (So far a Google exact phrase search brings up 6,550 links to "Obama communist".)
As Harry S Truman used to say, "If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen."