I usually don’t analyze the comments people leave on my blog, mainly because there is usually nothing much to say except, “Thanks for the kind words.” I do want to spend a few paragraphs looking at what someone named Tom Snyder wrote about my entry of March 24 in which I share the results of a Louis Harris survey that finds that two-thirds of all Republicans think the President is a socialist, 57 percent think he’s a Muslim and 24 percent say “he may be the anti-Christ.”
Here is what Mr. Snyder writes about my statement that none of these assertions about our President are true: “This is baloney. Castro just praised Obama-Care. And, he wants Obama’s cap and trade bill and amnesty for illegal aliens passed. Finally, there is indeed a notation on Obama’s school records showing his step-father considered him a Muslim. According to Islam, you cannot renounce the Muslim faith once you accept it. And, the fact that Obama went to a heretical black liberation church for 20 years proves that he’s not really a Christian. There is no one Anti-Christ, but Obama’s big government, pro-abortion policies reflect the national socialist policies of the Beast in the Book of Revelation, who IS an Anti-Christ.”
Let’s deconstruct Mr. Snyder’s evidence that Obama is a socialist, a Muslim and possibly the anti-Christ, beginning with his proof that President Obama is a socialist: “Castro just praised Obama-Care. And, he wants Obama’s cap and trade bill and amnesty for illegal aliens passed.” I guess that means that if Castro is in favor of flush toilets, anyone who uses them is a socialist. My point, of course, is that just because someone who calls himself a socialist likes a political position that does not mean that everyone who holds that position is a socialist.
If we pick at Snyder’s statements a little more closely, we discover more logical flaws: 1) Obama-Care has no public option, as a socialist law would have, but instead delivers some 30 million new customers to private insurance companies, just as mandating automobile insurance decades ago created millions of new customers for car insurance carriers. 2) “Cap-and-trade” is a way to regulate a free market (capitalism) without actually infringing on the right of companies to pollute, whereas a socialist solution to global warming would have the government take over industries. 3) It is absurd to call amnesty for illegal aliens a socialist position, because socialism describes an economic system, whereas amnesty for illegal aliens is a tactic for dealing with a social problem. A laissez-faire capitalist could just as readily believe in amnesty without contradiction.
Let’s move on to Mr. Snyder’s evidence that our President is a Muslim: “…there is indeed a notation on Obama’s school records showing his step-father considered him a Muslim. According to Islam, you cannot renounce the Muslim faith once you accept it.” Even if it were true that the President’s step-father once described Obama as a Muslim, that does not mean that the President ever considered himself a Muslim. And even if as a youth Obama for a time considered himself to be Muslim or followed some Islamic practices, that does not mean he is caught in the Muslim identity forever, no matter what some set of Islamic religious leaders decided was religious law several centuries ago. I am going to infer from his remarks and the fact that his link leads back to a Christian family movie-rating website that Mr. Snyder is a devout Christian. As a Christian, he should 1) believe in the concept of being reborn, which means anyone, including a Muslim or an African-American, can change one’s spots and become a different, “better” person; and 2) reject the authority of the Islamic religion, which means that the fact that Islamic law says you can’t renounce the faith has no bearing on how a Christian determines if someone is a Muslim or not.
More evidence that Mr. Snyder finds that our President is Muslim: “And, the fact that Obama went to a heretical black liberation church for 20 years proves that he’s not really a Christian.” Of course the black liberation church is Christian, but even if it were not, not being Christian does not make you Muslim.
I want to point out that the very fact that President Obama’s religion is an issue reflects an odious racism. What would be wrong if he were a Muslim? The ideological subtext behind the discussion is that being a Muslim is by definition a bad thing. It reflects the belief by some such as Samuel Huntington that we are in a holy war with Islam. I reject this analysis of current events as a racist excuse for launching wars to control natural resources. But I will admit that for someone who believes in the holy war theory, it would be important to know who is and isn’t a Muslim. But that “need to know” doesn’t make someone whose views you don’t like a Muslim.
Finally, let’s consider Mr. Snyder’s evidence that our President may be an anti-Christ: “There is no one Anti-Christ, but Obama’s big government, pro-abortion policies reflect the national socialist policies of the Beast in the Book of Revelation, who IS an Anti-Christ.” Revelations is a cryptic document with lots of symbolism and fanciful language, leaving it as much open to interpretation as a book of prediction or a manual for explaining current events. Words and phrases such as “big government,” “abortion” and “national socialism” are nowhere to be found in it. Mr. Snyder and others can believe whatever they want to believe about the interpretation of Revelations. It’s a great leap of logic, however, to state that someone is an anti-Christ because of a belief in positions that someone says that Revelations says are held by an allegorical figure. By that definition, every mild anti-Semite is and was a Nazi, and we know that’s not true.
Mr. Snyder has every right to oppose the political positions held by our President and to fight against the President and his positions on the battlefield of ideas. But saying the President is a socialist, Muslim and anti-Christ is just name-calling and nothing more. Most of us have been brainwashed since birth to fear and hate socialism and to revere Christianity, and some of us reverted to an ugly racism in the wake of 9/11 by conflating what a small group of radicals did with the faith of a billion people. Many therefore react emotionally when we hear someone called these terms. Labeling has long been a cheap tactic used by political propagandists to make people dislike people and positions. Labeling helped to turn back the tide of the progressive movement before and during World War I. During the McCarthy era, labeling of people as communists instilled fear into the entire country.
And labeling still works, as we can see from the Louis Harris survey that found that so many people apply these labels falsely to our President. It sad and dangerous when name-calling replaces a logical discussion of the issues. It’s just as disheartening though that people get away with the illogical justifications for name-calling that Mr. Snyder gives.