At a recent campaign rally for Barack Obama, an event volunteer had the poor judgment to tell two women wearing head scarves that they could not be seated behind the stage where Obama was speaking. The concern was that the pictures would add fuel to the false assertions circulating about Obama being a stealth Muslim. Obama apologized to the women publicly and personally, but that did not stop the New York Times from publishing a front page story on the controversy and how it may be affecting his support in the Muslim community. The Times also accused Obama of ignoring Muslim voters:
“While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque.”
That statement could apply with equal accuracy to John McCain, but the Times has not seen fit to address that. Not surprisingly, Fox News has also weighed in with those worried about the beleaguered voters of Islamic heritage.
This new found advocacy on the part of the media for respect for Muslim Americans is encouraging, if not mysterious. Since when has the press been known to stand up for Muslim rights? Yet here are just a few examples of media outrage due to the Obama campaign’s alleged insensitivity and struggles with Muslim voters:
- Muslim Women Wearing Head Scarves Refused Seats Behind Obama
~ U.S. News & World Report
- Muslims barred from picture at Obama event
- Muslim Supporters Told to Move at Event
~ Washington Post
- Obama workers snub 2 Muslims
~ Chicago Tribune
- MUSLIM WOMAN: OBAMA CAMP PUSHED ME OUT OF TV SHOT
~ New York Post
- Muslim Voters’ Waning Support for Obama?
~ ABC News
[Note: The New York Post’s headline actually used all caps and a fabricated quote that appears nowhere in the story]
The New York Times Times article is also not alone in criticizing Obama for not visiting mosques in the course of his campaign. But neither the Times, nor any other major news outlet, has held John McCain to the same standard. How many mosques has McCain visited? So far as I can tell, none.
While the media is awash in analyses of Obama’s support from Muslim Americans, they don’t seem to have the same concern for McCain. Perhaps there is an unstated assumption that Muslims are a more natural fit for Obama than McCain; that an African American candidate with a Muslim father and the middle name Hussein would all but lock up the Muslim vote. But that assumption would require the dismissal of all of the anti-Saddam, pro-Iraq war, Muslims that ought to be flocking to the campaign of the war-mongering architect of the “surge.” It would also demonstrate ignorance of the fact that George W. Bush carried a plurality of Muslims in 2000.
So why is the media curious only about the state of Obama’s relationship with Muslims? Why is there this sudden outpouring of empathy for how Muslims are treated by the Democratic candidate for president, but not the Republican, whose party’s support amongst Muslim’s has cratered in just a few years? Could it be that it allows the media a pretense of tolerance of minorities while they bash the first African American to become the nominee of a major political party?
If the the New York Times wants to question the depth of Muslim support for Obama, they ought to also ask the same questions of McCain. Otherwise it is just an exercise in hypocrisy. And it wouldn’t hurt if both candidates took time from their schedules to visit a mosque or two.