By Amitabh Pal on October 08, 2013

The rightwing's obsession about President Obama's religion is turning into a bad joke.

Late last month, conservative bloggers let loose on the web that Obama had declared November National Muslim Appreciation Month.

"The Muslim community deserves our full acceptance and respect," Obama said at a press conference, according to the Minuteman News website. "We have killed millions of Muslims overseas since the September 11th attacks. They are not all bad. In fact, most of them are good. So from now on, November will be a month to celebrate the Muslim community, the Sunnah and the Quran."

The website went on to quote a Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson commending Obama for the move, and added, for good measure, that Obama was making it easier for Muslims to get U.S. citizenship.

There was only one problem: The source was a satirical outlet called the National Report. Unrepentant after this was revealed, a Tea Party blogger said, "My comments still stand if O should ever do such a thing."

The National Report struck again last weekend (maybe it should start charging royalties), and this time the sucker was Fox News. Anna Kooiman, co-host of a Saturday morning program on the network, uttered this gem while talking about the shutdown: "Some things are continuing to be funded, and President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the Museum of Muslim Culture -- out of his own pocket." When notified of her error, she issued a half-hearted apology via Twitter.

Even the spoofs seem to be reinforcing the falsehoods about Obama.

When it comes to Obama and his alleged Muslimness, many conservatives leave the realm of reality. In surveys over the last few years, a significant proportion of Republicans (almost half in an August 2010 Time magazine poll) have said that Obama is Muslim.

Where does this fixation come from? It is due to the fact that a lot of Tea Partiers are out to prove Obama's is not a normal American, and, in the eyes of these folks, pretty much nothing can be more abnormal than being a Muslim.

"The entire government has been taken hostage by leaders elected by this crazed minority, who see in the face of Barack Obama everything they've been taught to fear for fifty years," Joan Walsh writes on Salon. "Start with miscegenation: He's not just black, he's the product of a black father and a white mother. ... With his Ivy League degrees, they are sure he must be the elitist beneficiary of affirmative action. Steeped in Chicago politics, he's the representative of corrupt urban machines controlled by Democrats.

Obama supposedly not being Christian just adds to his alleged menace in the crazed eyes of the far right. It's no coincidence that the latest to state out loud that Obama is a Muslim is the father of Senator Ted Cruz, one of the main leaders of the Tea Party movement.

Pointing out the falsehood just doesn't seem to matter to this crowd.

Photo: Flikr user EyesOnFire89, Creative Commons licensed.

Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive and co-editor of the Progressive Media Project, is the author of "Islam" Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principle of Nonviolence Today (Praeger).

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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