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Robert Spencer Clutches at Straws Over Obama Inauguration

From Christian news-site OneNewsNow:

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, the president-elect said he will follow the tradition and use his full name — Barack Hussein Obama — when he takes the oath of office. “I think the tradition is that they [previous presidents] use all three names, and I will follow the tradition,” he said. “I’m not trying to make a statement one way or another. I’ll do what everybody else does.”

But best-selling author Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch thinks Obama’s statement is ironic in that throughout the campaign it was considered taboo to mention the Democratic candidate’s middle name.

“Because it was suggesting that he had some connection to Islam and to the Islamic world,” says Spencer. [And] now he’s exploiting the same thing. Although he says that it’s only because every president uses his full name when being sworn in and he’s simply going to follow that tradition, it does seem as if there’s a signal being given here that there’s more to it than that.”

I try to resist simply chronicling the utterances of demagogues, but sometimes one sees something so stupid and so lacking in good faith that it cannot pass unremarked.

We all remember the anti-Obama right’s election campaign efforts to create fear of Obama based on his middle name. The likes of Spencer and Walid Shoebat  insisted on either always giving Obama’s full name or writing formulations such as “B. Hussein Obama”. The claim of a “taboo” also appears on Politico; but just how many times did we hear about “John Sidney McCain”? Shoebat was typically dishonest  (and absurd) when he complained about the injustice that saying “Barack Hussein Obama” is not received the same way as “Hilary Rodham Clinton”, but we all know that “Rodham” is a surname rather than a middle name, and that it is a long-established part of of Clinton’s professional and public identity. Most people recognised that those who chose to emphasise “Hussein” were either crackpot obsessives or opportunists playing on prejudice and fear as a substitute for proper political argument. Even McCain understood that, which was why he scolded Bill Cunningham. If the name became a “taboo” – which is arguable – it was because anyone serious did not want to be associated with such a low tactic.

So what exactly is the “signal being given here” that Spencer believes follows from the fact that Obama is going to follow usual practice at the swearing-in ceremony? He doesn’t say, and the good Christians who run OneNewsNow don’t feel the need to ask. Spencer’s comment is vacuous, but presumably he’s now so surrounded by fawning anti-Muslim keyboard warriors that any old rubbish will do.

4 Responses

  1. Your term ‘good faith’ is exactly right, that is what we are missing in much of this dialogue, in much debate, as if we are scared of being cuaght out if we’re ‘nice’.

    More good faith I think.

  2. Thanks. I define “bad faith” as an argument that the author must know to be bogus or sophistic. OneNewsNow promotes such arguments regularly, even though they compromise the Christian principle of commitment to honesty.

  3. This guy’s been sullying my quasi-good name for years. Before he became (in)”famous”, as an “expert” in Islam there is no mention of his Islamic studies in any of his own material, that I have been able to find (nothing before 9/11 anyway). I don’t personally like the Islamic traditions, but that’s just me. I too have studied religions for 20 years but obviously with a more open mind than him. There is no more reason for Average Joe Islam to become a terrorist than there is for Average Joe Christian to hate his family (Luke 14:26), to support Genocide (Old Testament), or to cut a woman’s hand off for defending her beaten husband by grabbing the other guy’s “secrets” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) and so-on…
    Actually there is a reason, but it has nothing to do with religion. If your wedding, school, or neighborhood had a missile dropped on it and all you knew was that, it was Americans dropping the missile and that the Taliban or other Mujaheddin were offering it’s “soldiers” to protect you and produce “justice”, what would you do? Keep in mind that rural areas still live tribally. If you thought that the Mujaheddin terrorists were your “soldiers” because the US is at “war” with them, using the massive American industrial complex, what view would you have? If you saw and heard about blatantly innocent people in your community (cab drivers and the like) being abducted and brutally tortured, sometimes to death by Americans, and then heard that the terrorist Mujaheddin were the soldiers protecting you from that, what would you do? If the US and allies sent police officers and trained police officers in the middle east and then you saw that these criminals, not soldiers, were being arrested or shot during an internal policing standoffs, would that give you a different perspective (how did you feel about Waco’s “Branch Davidian”, extremist religious criminals? vs. how did you feel about Pearl Harbor, soldiers?) It is also interesting to note that Maliki’s Dawa (favored by the US) in Iraq is the same as those responsible for the Islamic Revolution in Iran (also, the result of western interference) that essentially ended democracy and progressive thinking there for quite some time. (ref. 1953 when the UK and US intelligence used blatant lies in propaganda letter bombs etc. and started Islamic mobs, to remove Mossadegh by saying that he planned to end their religious freedom). Dawa’s purpose is to oppose secularism and communism, imposing Shiite Islam as the only “just” rule. I oppose communism too but am concerned about the secular situation. Their opposition, al-Awda guerrillas (terrorists), are former ba’athists and Saddam supporters. It has another purpose. The Ba’ath party is a secular social-centrist party that is opposed to western colonialism in the Middle East. The name also indicates the Palestinian refugees right to return. I think that this starts to give us a better picture of what’s really happening there, especially given that the US maintained close friendship with Saddam and his Ba’athists while he committed 2 acts of attempted genocide. The press then made the invasions something that they never were. The Ba’athist crime to the US government was, not their brutality (which I absolutely do NOT support) and was the American citizen’s reason for going. The “real” crime was the movement that opposed Americans setting up in Saudi Arabia, which is also something that BinLaden called a primary reason for opposing the US. As far as the horror of 911, which is still very upsetting, it is an interesting date. 9/11/1990 When Bush senior threatened the use of force to remove Iraqi soldiers from Kuwait, which Iraq had recently invaded (going back to western actions in the middle east but the press leaves that out). The same day he mentions the term “New World Order” in his speech for the first time. Chileans also have a 911, 9/11/1973: Successful coup’ of brutal dictator Pinochet, backed by the CIA (ref. operation FUBARK, now available as public record but again ignored by the press). Under US (Chicago School) economic ideals the price of a loaf of bread at one point was about 70% of the average Chilean wage, kids were fainting in school etc., people passing out in the streets… Then there was 9/11/1982 – International forces that protected Palestinian refugees, after the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon, left Beirut (the US insisted, again something missed by the press). Within a week, several thousand of the refugees were massacred. Somehow, the other Robert ignores those events and won’t link them to either Judaism or Christianity. It’s interesting too that, he opposes the way that Islam forces people into things but is okay with forcing people to give up Islam – can we say hypocrite?
    I digress, sorry for the crazy long rant (I’m basically a troll on your site right now) but the more I see my name popping up with a bunch of his garbage attached to it the more frustrated I get. It’s like being named Augusto Pinochet.

  4. […] for her co-author Robert Spencer, in 2008 I noted his claim that Obama had sent a secret message to Muslims by using his full name during the […]

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