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Barack Obama, The New Yorker, and the Inoculation of Satire

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For starters, I'm obviously a racist. You can tell it because I used B. Hussein Obama's middle name.

That's pretty much evidence enough in some quarters. But if pronouncing his whole legal name is racist, then what about this image from The New Yorker and cartoonist Barry Blitt?

First, that's a beautiful image. Mr Blitt boiled a whole bunch of impressions, mis-impressions, suspicions, blind Internet rumors, and just all 'round crazy conspiratorial nonsense into one beautifully detailed image. I just love how many layers of meaning come out of this one image; all the ways it was intended vs how it will be purposely or accidentally misinterpreted by others.

To begin, the basic intent of the magazine and cartoonist is fairly obvious and clear, and just as they will explain it if you ask: They are satirizing and mocking right wing and conspiracy nut types for their ridiculous and unfounded harsh opinions about Michelle and Barack Hussein Obama.

Michelle Obama and Barack Obama on The New YorkerThat's pretty straightforward. Pretty much everyone seems to get that point, but some good liberals still object, on grounds that maybe the hicks won't get that they're being mocked and take it at face value. In short, we're smart enough to understand, but this image is bad because the hicks might not be hip enough to get it.

Then there's the Obama campaign, which gets to pretend at being hurt. Spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: "The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

John McCain had to get in on clucking his tongue a bit as well. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said: "We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive." But then, McCain's people have probably the most legitimate excuse for wanting to go out of their way to not be associated with any of this.

All of the offended parties get the joke, but so do most of us red state crackers. I haven't seen any indication that anyone did not get the satirical intent of the damn picture.

What's interesting to me in all this is how this image seems to substantially inoculate the Obamas from a lot of serious, and in some cases, totally appropriate criticism or skepticism. Anyone who has concerns about, or objections to, the Obamas that could even broadly be characterized to fit within that caricature of racist right wing paranoia is, well, a dirty right wing racist.

Consider to that end, the image of Barack dressed as a Muslim. Obviously, Barack Obama is not a practicing Muslim. He's an avowed Christian, whatever you may think of the pastor that brought him into the fold. You're pretty much of an idiot if you insist on thinking that he's a super secret Muslim, or took his oath as senator on a Koran. Shut up already, damn.

But then there are lots of perfectly reasonable and relevant concerns and uncertainty about Barack Obama's religious beliefs. Does he believe in American exceptionalism, as do most people, or what. He's got close Muslim relatives, and apparently spent at least a little time in mosque growing up – not that there's anything wrong with that.

But how much does he really believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? With his Muslim background, a non-believing left wing intellectual mom and his elitist Ivy League degrees, he mostly comes across as an aloof, sophisticated, multicultural secularist carefully mixing in some half-assed extremely watered down black preacher shtick for the boobs. After all, religion is something that poor dumb misguided bitter voters cling to, as he famously said in the San Francisco "bitter" remarks. For better or worse, you know that Dubya really does believe in Jesus – but does Barack really believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

Does Barack really believe in Christ, or is he a secular Ivy League multiculturalist who would view Islam as an equally valid and beautiful cultural expression? Answers to questions like that seem quite valid and relevant to me; things that might well impact how I might vote. I would NOT be inclined to look favorably on a US presidential candidate who would see such equivalence. This of course, makes ME the goat, one of them there racist conspiracy mongering nutjobs like they made fun of on that famous cover of The New Yorker. (Do you remember The New Yorker? This is a story about The New Yorker.)

See how that works? All kinds of perfectly reasonable questions and objections get bunched together in disrepute, all package-dealed into ridicule with the most ridiculous possible uninformed opinion that sounds the least bit like it.

Likewise, I'm sure that Michelle Obama has never literally burned a US flag. But she sure does manage to come off sounding pretty anti-American at times, with complaints about America being "mean" and only ever being proud of America as an adult when they began voting for her husband for president. I don't know that those comments from the missus would be a major determinant of my vote, but those harsh words for her countrymen do weigh a point or two against Barack for choosing a person with such views as his soulmate. This of course, makes me equivalently as ridiculous as those dumb rednecks they satirized at The New Yorker who insist that Michelle is burning flags and such.

Plus, there's the stupid people who think the Obamas are black radicals, who think Michelle Obama is some Angela Davis character, like depicted in The New Yorker. Man are they dumb. That presumably includes particularly everyone who for some crazy, no doubt dishonest, reason want to hold Obama's association with Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers against him. So here I am, the goat again. (Hey, that could be my epitaph.)

Ah well, might as well go all the way: Is Barack Hussein Obama the Anti-Christ? Enquiring bitter minds want to know!

About Gadfly

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    What the hell is ‘American exceptionalism’? I don’t know, but it sounds like potentially a great deal of trouble.

    Just for you, Al – one for the family album

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    How come the pic of the New Yorker and the ad up there are covering up a bunch of Al’s typing?

  • bliffle

    I avoid all modern parody and satire because it has become so humorless. It just isn’t any fun. Anyway, the authors are usually so wrought up about making their serious point that the exercise becomes heavy and leaden.

  • Lee Richards

    Al, You’re really all over the place with this one, so much so that I can’t separate the serious from the satire.

    Are you seriously suggesting that believing in the bodily resurrection of Jesus–or in Jesus as Christ–are qualifications or requirements for office in the U.S., and that voters should expect or demand theology as well as political philosophy from candidates?

    Sorry if I’ve missed the point, but if I haven’t, I’m even sorrier.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Does he believe in American exceptionalism, as do most people, or what.

    This is actually considered a legitimate religious belief? Only in America, obviously…

    you know that Dubya really does believe in Jesus

    He might believe in Jesus, but to say his Christian values are influencing his presidency is just wrong. Hell, he said Jesus saved him from Jack Daniels, but it’s more accurate to say that wifey did and Jesus helped win him the election on empty promises to the American Christians to fight for their causes (yeah, he really helped them overcome gay marriage and abortion issues on a Federal level).

    but does Barack really believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

    Do you mean literally rose from the dead? Many Christians don’t believe that, include several mainline pastors.

    I’d be more concerned as to how Obama practices what he believes as opposed to a laundry list of what he believes in. Anyone can simply say they believe in something, but without moral or ethical action, they’re just doing lipservice.

    Does Barack really believe in Christ, or is he a secular Ivy League multiculturalist who would view Islam as an equally valid and beautiful cultural expression?

    Are these two concepts opposed? Wouldn’t Christ have been considered a “multiculturalist?” Moreover, would he have subscribed to the Puritanical excesses and theo-manipulation of the dispensationalist doctrine (Rapture, thank you very much Mr. Darby) and this bullshit American exceptionalism (Winthrop’s pathetic “City on a Hill” rubbish)? Doubtful to all of the above queries.

    So ask the question you really mean to ask: is Obama an American Christian (in that order, too) and does he subscribe to America’s concocted and manipulated notions of theocracy and American civic religion?

    Also, all of this “I don’t know what Obama stands for” crap is just a result of American media bias and unbalanced, convoluted crapball coverage. Of course a vision of Obama is going to be perplexing for those who don’t know how to navigate the media fog, but that’s a result of voter laziness and media hypnosis more than anything else.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Al,

    Good article.

    Just one question: Where is Senator Obama’s sense of humor? A president needs one.

    The campaign apparently complained that most readers will see [the cartoon] as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.

    Had Senator Obama instead shown the cartoon during one of his frequent public appearances, said that he though it was really funny, and stated that he intended to have a framed copy on the wall in the Oval Office, he could have come across as a pretty neat guy. But no, that isn’t the way he dealt with it, and what could possibly have helped him may have hurt him.

    Oh well, no great loss.

    Dan

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Lee [comment 4]: Somedays I’m not sure myself when I’m serious vs satirical. However, I’m not suggesting that belief in Jesus is necessarily a plus as a qualification for president. But it certainly IS relevant to know what a potential POTUS really believes about the world in his heart, as best we can make such things out.

    In some crisis with Iran, is the deeply religious president gonna go all Strangelove on us, like Martin Sheen in The Dead Zone? The missles are flying, praise Jesus! Is he really basically an atheist with few or no moral bearings? Bill Clinton comes to mind there. What about an Objectivist, with a non and indeed anti-theistic but very strict set of moral principles?

    That level of peering into a candidate’s heart is perhaps not all that important in picking city councilmen or a county clerk, but they’re quite significant in figuring out to whom we want to hand keys to our nukes.

  • Lee Richards

    Thanks, Al.

    It is relevant to know what a candidate thinks about the world, yes, but theology ought to be his own business, so long as it doesn’t violate the Constitution, break laws, or endanger the country.

    We’ve had some candidates fitting their faith to the segment of the electorate they’re wooing.

    Personally, I don’t have any problem with an Objectivist, anti-theist with a strict sense of ethics and moral principles, who doesn’t want to be my Preacher-In-Chief.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Dr Dreadful, good opening question on American exceptionalism. From Wikipedia,

    American exceptionalism (cf. “exceptionalism”) refers to the belief that the United States differs qualitatively from other developed nations, because of its national credo, historical evolution, or distinctive political and religious institutions. The difference is often expressed in American circles as some categorical superiority, to which is usually attached some alleged proof, rationalization or explanation that may vary greatly depending on the historical period and the political context.

    However, the term can also be used in a negative sense by critics of American policies to refer to a willful nationalistic ignorance of faults committed by the American government.

    I suppose my beliefs tend to be interpretable as supporting some idea of American exceptionalism. Not that we’re perfect and can do no wrong, but America seems to me to be not just quantitatively bigger and stronger, but qualitatively different in our outlook and place in the world. We’re in a historically unique – and I think on the whole very positive – leadership position in the world

    That idea of exceptionalism could cut a lot of different ways, good and bad. It could be that some religious schmuck thinks God means for the great America to smite the wicked. Or it could be a secularist liberal thinking that we should be responsible for perfecting humanity – which might be even worse. Or a belief in American exceptionalism might come out in a thousand other ways.

    Brother Richardson, I wouldn’t say that American exceptionalism is a religious belief per se, but it does strongly reflect religious beliefs in some of its manifestations.

    Plus, you’re right that being a Christian could mean a lot of different things, depending on how you take it. As a liberal, one could take Christianity to be a very good thing if the candidate takes it basically as an invocation to feed the poor and hand out more welfare. Or you could take Christianity as very bad, if the candidate believes in more of hardass Yahweh vision of God, per Ann Coulter.

  • Clavos

    “It is relevant to know what a candidate thinks about the world, yes, but theology ought to be his own business, so long as it doesn’t violate the Constitution, break laws, or endanger the country.”

    It has relevance if his personal theology informs his worldview and influences his decision making; therefore, it’s relevant for the voters to know a candidate’s stance and depth on the issue.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    If a candidate really does have serious religious belief, it will certainly be a critical influence in his thinking and actions as POTUS. That might not necessarily be in pushing a crude religious agenda, ie pushing for prayer in public schools. But what God wants you to do will tend to trump a lot of other considerations – if you’re at all serious about your beliefs.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It could be that some religious schmuck thinks God means for the great America to smite the wicked. Or it could be a secularist liberal thinking that we should be responsible for perfecting humanity

    Ah, so it’s plain old ethnocentrism all dressed up in a new suit and with its hair brushed.

    Of course, it’s quite natural for people to believe that their particular group is superior to all others – although it’s odd that none of them ever stop to wonder at just how lucky and entirely unlikely it is that they just happened to be born into that group.

    It’s a harmless enough belief as long as it’s taken with a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, most of Europe, the Pacific Rim, and the countries that used to be colored pink on old globes have relatively fresh memories of what happens to that belief when it is unseasoned…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Thomas Jefferson, whom I regard as one of our best founding fathers and presidents*,

    was a vestryman in his local church, a lay position that was informally tied to political office at the time. He also had friends who were clergy, and he supported some churches financially.

    However, he was either a deist or a Unitarian (depending on whose views one accepts), neither of which by any definition which seems accurate is a Christian — one who believes in the Trinity.

    Query, could a known deist, a Unitarian or, Zeus forbid, an agnostic or atheist, successfully run for President these days? Tentative answer, Probably not; which seems a shame.

    * My youthful association with the University of Virginia compells me to say this, but I would anyway.

    Dan

  • Lee Richards

    #13:
    It is a shame, Dan, because it’s evidence that our “exceptionalism” still permits/encourages theistic boundaries in politics that can limit our freedoms and enforce conformity.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    No Doc Dreadful, American exceptionalism would not necessarily be ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is merely chauvinistic and emotionally placing your tribe above others. American exceptionalism COULD sometimes be that. That’s obviously something to be on guard against.

    Or it could be that someone has good reasons for thinking that in some ways America is superior to other countries. I certainly do, and I don’t think I’m chauvinistic. I’m happy to acknowledge and criticize our weak points – but right proud to proclaim our virtues as well – which seems to me to leave US pretty high in the plus column overall.

    Brother Richards, perhaps you could explain this elusive jumble of words our “exceptionalism” still permits/encourages theistic boundaries in politics that can limit our freedoms and enforce conformity

  • Baronius

    I’ve heard a lot more from the Left about how the Right will react to Obama’s candidacy than I’ve heard from the Right. This magazine cover just reinforces the caricature of, not Obama, but of the yokel’s opinion of Obama.

    Democrats have a recent history of manufacturing reasons why their candidates lose. More accurately, variations on the one reason they think they lose: that the people aren’t smart enough to have voted for the Democratic candidate. This election, Dems expect to win the presidency, but I think they’re instinctively creating the narrative for why Obama might fail. It’s got to be the dumb racist voters.

    Republicans blame their candidates when they lose. They hate their candidates when they lose!

  • http://jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    One point about the cover that hasn’t been mentioned much, here or elsewhere: there are, in fact, people who believe Obama is a Muslim, and hold other absurd and idiotic beliefs. However, they were not the target of the satire. The target was those on the Right who deliberately foment such beliefs.

    Obama’s religiosity is, in fact, one of the few things I dislike about him. I always got the sense that Hillary’s professed Christianity was pandering – that deep down, she holds what is (to me) a sensible, naturalistic worldview. I believe Obama really is a religious believer, though. Not a good thing in a leader, as our founding fathers understood.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    there are, in fact, people who believe Obama is a Muslim, and hold other absurd and idiotic beliefs. However, they were not the target of the satire. The target was those on the Right who deliberately foment such beliefs.

    Oh, indeed. My wife regularly gets e-mails from her aunt perpetuating such bullshit. We take great delight in responding to her (and CCing everyone else she sent it to!) with a helpful link to the relevant page on Snopes or TruthorFiction.com.

    I haven’t quite decided whether said aunt is an example of those who weren’t the target of the cartoon or of those who were.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Still, I’d be curious to have a medical exam to determine if Barack has “666” on the back of his skull. Perhaps Dreadful’s aunt could tell us the scoop on this.

  • Clavos

    “there are, in fact, people who believe Obama is a Muslim, and hold other absurd and idiotic beliefs.”

    Few (if any) of whom are likely to be New Yorker readers, however.

  • Clavos

    This whole brouhaha is so absurd, so quintessentially American.

    When the epitaph of this country is written, one thing it will say will be:

    “They made mountains out of molehills”

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’d be curious to have a medical exam to determine if Barack has “666” on the back of his skull.

    Well, he’s not exactly Shaggy, is he, Al?

    So it should be easy enough to discern under a strong enough light – say, at the upcoming Democratic Convention…

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    WE need satelite shots of the top of his head. Then we’ll get some CIA and NSA analysts to check it out and see if we can find any WMD up there along with the 666! They’ll tell us it’s there, but when we go to check later, we won’t be able to find any of it.

  • bliffle

    Political people shouldn’t be allowed to attempt satire, they almost always fail at it. Satire requires a delicate touch with just a fine line of blood drawn with a scalpel, but political types always make a big mess with clumsy blood-covered machetes of verbiage. Witness the first paragraph of the article, which is so complicated in it’s self-referential implications that one cannot follow the logic or even perceive the authors viewpoint. Where’s the beef?

    Same thing with #23, above. One’s natural response is “huh?”. I suppose that were one suitably pre-equipped with a clear understanding of the authors actual political viewpoint and linguistic proclivities one might be able, eventually, to perceive both the satiric intent of the author and the joke within. But, more likely, one just shakes his head and moves on, neither enlightened nor amused.

  • troll

    …odd to evaluate an opinion piece about a satirical work based on the quality of its satire

    hermano Al – imo you’re on the money with your point about ‘inoculation’ and if you bring this shit up again you will only be exposing your moonshine soaked religio-racist delusions

  • troll

    (Objectivist – ?

    bah humbug – give me an Objectionist any day)

  • Clavos

    “I suppose that were one suitably pre-equipped with a clear understanding of the authors actual political viewpoint and linguistic proclivities one might be able, eventually, to perceive both the satiric intent of the author and the joke within. But, more likely, one just shakes his head and moves on, neither enlightened nor amused.”

    Whew! What turgid, pedantic and pompous prose!

    Ironic that the writer is criticizing with such Bulwerian scribbling.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    pompous…hmmm…..sounds familiar!

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    The religious posture of most presidential candidates, with the exception of JFK and Al Smith, owing to their catholicism, have rarely been an issue in campaigns until the advent of Carl Rove and the Bushies made hay with it in 2000 and again in 2004.

    Now every candidate for almost any political office from president to dog catcher must convey every nuance of their beliefs for the electorate to chew on and digest.

    If believers had kept their distance from the political arena, if they had stopped short of injecting politics with their fundamentalist bullshit and instead honored the separation of church and state, we wouldn’t have to contend with this crap.

    As religious issues have taken hold of politics, it requires all candidates to pander. As someone queried above, could a secular or otherwise non-religious candidate hope to prevail in almost any election in this country? The obvious answer being no.

    With the prodding of ministers, priests and, I suppose, even rabbis, the voters push political candidates to wear their religion on their sleeves. Some do so heartily, some with obviously less enthusiasm. Frankly, I don’t want to hear it.

    The concept of “American Exceptionalism” is largely what has got us in the predicament we’re now in with much of the world sick to death from hearing about how fucking great we Americans are.
    It might serve us better to be, or at least to appear to be, even the slightest bit humble. Again, as noted by someone above, we are all Americans owing to the accident of our birth. None of us alive today had any hand in the formation of this country. We really need to get over ourselves.

    Lastly, do most believers truly think that atheists have no moral compass? I suggest that atheists are, on the whole, far more “moral” than your average “bitter, gun totin’ christian” stewing in his or her hatred and distrust of everyone not just like themselves.

    B-tone

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    WE need satelite shots of the top of his head. Then we’ll get some CIA and NSA analysts to check it out and see if we can find any WMD up there along with the 666!

    This is starting to sound like one of those animations Terry Gilliam used to do for Monty Python…

  • bliffle

    Let me put this is in simple declarative sentences.

    I didn’t get either the humor or the politics of the title:

    “Barack Obama, The New Yorker, and the Inoculation of Satire”

    Inoculation? Huh? In what sense? Is satire being inoculated against something, or is satire proposed as an inoculant against something?

    This title says nothing to me. It creates no image and no incentive to read the article. Even after reading the article I can’t figure out what the title meant.

    So, I threw the title away as uncommunicative and not worth reading.

    Contrast that with the exemplar of satire, Jonathan Swift in “A Modest Proposal”. One has the image of a modest young person, looking downward modestly while offering this simple, apparently ‘modest’ proposal.

    “For starters, I’m obviously a racist. You can tell it because I used B. Hussein Obama’s middle name.”

    Huh? Once again, I don’t get it. There’s just too much background implication going from using a middlename corresponding implicitly to a criminal person and that implying one was really inspired by racism.

    Too roundabout.

    So, once again, I threw it away.

    Then it occurred to me that I had done this so many times in the past with Als articles and comments that I skipped over what he had to say and read only the comments to see if there was something understandable there. Perhaps something interesting, amusing, enlightening.

    I’m still looking. But my hope is flagging.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    on grounds that maybe the hicks won’t get that they’re being mocked and take it at face value.

    Clearly these people haven’t looked at the subscriber list for the New Yorker. Not a lot of subscribers in Cumberland Maryland.

    And Bliffle. I agree that the title sucks. But clearly you didn’t understand the title of ‘A Modest Proposal’ either, as it has nothing to do with modesty in the sense you are using it, but rather in the sense where it is the opposite of ambitious.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “And Bliffle. I agree that the title sucks. But clearly you didn’t understand the title of ‘A Modest Proposal’ either, as it has nothing to do with modesty in the sense you are using it, but rather in the sense where it is the opposite of ambitious.”

    Bingo!

    Pomposity punctured.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Baritone, you obviously have some issues and, frankly, bigotry against religious folk, but I don’t see how religious issues have really taken that much hold in American politics. Your underlying beliefs about God or gods or no god are naturally and appropriately significant to your view of everything else in life, including politics. All in all, America (thankfully) manages to keep that stuff to mostly a bare minimum.

    Consider though that interest in candidate’s religious beliefs have become more prominent in recent years not because religious folk have become more demanding, “theistic” or militant, but because the whole makeup of the country has changed. In fact, what we might regard as religious type prescriptions are WAY less than they were even just 50 years ago. We weren’t debating gay marriage – homosexual behavior was just flatly illegal. Stores and businesses were in many places shut down on Sundays by blue laws. Think of the massive religious censorship imposed on American movies in the 30s to 50s through the Production Code. Hardly anyone, even the most hardcore evangelical types, would support such a thing now.

    A lot of the reason we get so much more interest now in candidate’s religious beliefs is because the country used to be much more homogenous. Religious beliefs were not so much of a question in part because the big majority of people – black and white alike – were Protestant Christians. They mostly believed more or less the same thing – or at least pretended to while running for office. I reckon that part is still the same.

    That sameness has given way to a glorious rainbow of religious perspectives, which is great. But naturally, that’s going to create some conflict, or at least intense interest in what candidates believe.

    Again, that’s absolutely appropriate. I do want to know what is in the heart of the POTUS. Do they believe in God, and what kind of God? Or if they’re a non-believer, what kind of moral code do they have or not have? Are they a stiff-spined Objectivist with rigid and predictable moral considerations, or do they figure that God is dead so there are no rules?

    These inner workings are, again, maybe not so relevant to selecting a county clerk or city alderman. Just follow the constitution and vote for whatever programs you campaigned on. Hey, I don’t remember ever much hearing about candidate’s religion even out here in the Bible Belt – other than in presidential politics. That’s just a lot more significant there, with the massive powers of life and death and such. At this point, the POTUS has accumulated near God-like power, so it’s certainly relevant to understand their ideas about such things.

    Separation of church and state does not and never, ever did mean that people’s religious beliefs should have nothing to do with their political beliefs. That would be absolutely untenable. It mostly means that the government couldn’t officially put one religion over another, or require religious tests for government jobs.

    Basically, a lot of anti-religious folks are essentially demanding that people give up their religious beliefs. Oh, you can dress up and have meaningles little Sunday social meetings if you like – it’s a free country. Just don’t let yourself take that stuff seriously, cause you’ve got to 100% leave it at the door when you vote.

    That pretty much amounts to demanding that people with different beliefs just give up their mistaken worldview and get in line with your correct one. However, maybe there are good Christians, Muslims, Jews and others who have love in their hearts, but honestly believe differently.

    B-tone, perhaps you could consider what you could do to stop stewing in “hatred and distrust” for religious types.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Bliffle, you carry on about how my articles are so much gibberish, and there’s nothing there – yet you keep reading them and actively commenting on them – for years. You seem to get some kind of meaning from them – you apparently just don’t like it.

    Bliffle sez: Inoculation? Huh? In what sense? Is satire being inoculated against something, or is satire proposed as an inoculant against something?

    Really now, I think the basic point there was pretty clear. Obama is being to some extent inoculated against a whole range of criticisms and objections, which I spent most of the article detailing. Perhaps my thinking gets a little free range, coming in sideways sometimes rather than being entirely straightforward in my writing style. Or maybe you’ve just got a little problem with reading comprehension. Or you just choose not to understand.

    I will grant, however, that the first paragraph would make more sense if “Hussein” was in the title of the article. It is in the title on my site. I’m not sure if I somehow neglected that at BC, or if an editor monkey did that.

    Dumbing that opening paragraph down, the main point of the article is to critique the attempt by Obama supporters to ridiculously limit the socially acceptable range of criticism – starting with the attempt to put even using his legal name off limits as evidence of bigotry.

  • Baronius

    I like the title! An inoculation introduces a little of an pathogen into the system, teaching the body how to fight it off. The New Yorker introduced the Muslim, anti-American imagery using the harmless tool of satire, and trained the body politic to treat any questioning of Obama as a virus. Al can’t question Obama’s beliefs without being perceived as a lunatic, the sort of person who’d believe the New Yorker cover as authentic.

    Similarly, in The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis described how a devil should respond to a person thinking about the devil. Make him think of the most absurd cartoonish image of the devil, and since that can’t be true, the devil can’t be real. It’s basically the “straw man” argument.

    Baritone, give credit where credit is due. The modern interest in the candidates’ religious beliefs stems from Carter campaigning as a born-again Christian.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Of course, stating my view regarding religion and it’s role in politics automatically leads people to assume that I hate religious people. I do despise religion and especially those who use it to line their pockets or rally people behind religious bullshit to wage war and kill others. Religion has been the pretext for the slaughter of millions of people throughout history.

    But I don’t, nor never have I said that I hate christians or any particular people of whatever beliefs. Were I to do so, I would be living a pretty lonely life. The great majority of people with whom I live, work or otherwise come into contact are, in fact religious – most being christians of one ilk or another.

    Yet that doesn’t change my view, my distaste for religion and its hellacious consequences throughout history. My view has nothing to do with bigotry.

    You may be correct regarding the evolving nature of American society. But it is my belief that human society will never be truly free from the swamp unless and until the restrictive chains of religious belief are broken, and we stand on our own without desparately grasping for a phantom no more substantial than fog.

    B-tone

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Perhaps we can come to some sort of compromise about Obama’s middle name. How about we just use the initial? ‘Barack H. Obama’ – sounds statesmanlike enough to please one faction, and the ‘H’ should mollify the ones who whine because they’re not allowed to use his middle name, not that they’re in any way trying to imply that he’s a Muslim, a terrorist or related to Saddam thereby rendering everyone happy as sandboys is that racist?.

    Can’t think of another case where a (potential) president’s middle name was such a BFD, actually. The closest approximation would be Kennedy, who’s rarely referred to without the use of his middle initial – I guess plain old John Kennedy doesn’t have a presidential enough ring to it – and the current incumbent, who’s also usually endowed with his middle W for obvious reasons.

    Dr S. Dreadful

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Baronius, thank you. Your words re-assure me that I was actually saying something coherent and intelligible.

    Baritone [comment 37], I see that you try to love the sinner but hate the sin. Good for you – very Christian.

  • Baronius

    I think of Obama’s middle name as comparable to Pierre “Pete” DuPont’s first name. It’s taken on a life of its own because it bothers the candidate. George Herbert Walker Bush shut down the mockery of his waspy name by describing his respect for the original Herbert Walker. It didn’t bug the candidate, so it was forgotten. Obama’s people really don’t like the playground taunts about his middle name, so it’s going to snowball.

  • Baronius

    “Can’t think of another case where a (potential) president’s middle name was such a BFD, actually.”

    Dread, you forgot when BFD actually ran for president. His middle name was quite controversial. Couldn’t say it on tv.

  • Clavos

    @#35:

    No editor monkey fucked with your title, Barger.

    Neither did the editors, except to correct your misspellng of “inoculation.”

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    LOL, Baronius.

    You do remember LOL’s disastrous 1996 presidential run, don’t you? And how such a big deal was made out of his middle name…

    …Ojay?

  • Clavos

    Reports I read attributed LOL’s loss more to his use of a white Bronco out on the campaign trail, although they pointed out that it was driven fairly sedately…

  • Baronius

    That was a bad year to be named Ojay. Politics is about timing. Remember WMD’s failed 2002 Senate run?

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Al,

    Don’t assume that such notions (sins/sinners) originated with the christians. Christians take far too much credit for things that often predate them by hundreds, if not thousands of years in any number of societies, including a prophet or some charasmatic leader rising from the dead.

    Bar,

    Of course, it HAD to be a Democrat’s fault, didn’t it? Yes, Jimmy brought it up, but it was Rove and the fundies who took religion and ran with it all the way to the WH. Carter did not win because of his christianity. He won the vote from a nation tired of Republicans owing to the Nixon CF.

    There is no way Bush would ever have plopped his butt down in the oval office chair had it not been for the fundies, who most Reps now are disavowing and doing whatever they can to scrub them out of the party.

    B-tone

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    He won the vote from a nation tired of Republicans owing to the Nixon CF.

    Indeed, Baronius (@ #45), politics has much to do with timing. Back in ’74, Nixon had just about ridden out the Watergate storm when something possessed him, on a state visit to Rome, to accept an honorary knighthood from the Most Ancient and Holy Order of the Crimson Foxglove.

    When he returned home with his new official title of Richard M. Nixon, C.F., his fate was sealed.

  • Baronius

    All I’m saying is that your statement is wrong:

    “The religious posture of most presidential candidates, with the exception of JFK and Al Smith, owing to their catholicism, have rarely been an issue in campaigns until the advent of Carl Rove and the Bushies made hay with it in 2000 and again in 2004.”

    It didn’t have to be a Democrat, but it was. Politics has been driven by religious sentiment throughout US history (and of course way before that), but other than Kennedy breaking the stained glass ceiling, the presidential candidates’ religion wasn’t often noted until Carter. And it shouldn’t have been, because they were all Episcopalians and Presbyterians.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    the presidential candidates’ religion wasn’t often noted until Carter. And it shouldn’t have been, because they were all Episcopalians and Presbyterians.

    Nixon was, at least nominally, a Quaker.

    Does anyone recall a big deal being made, during any of his presidential campaigns, about the potential effect of having a pacifist in charge of the Big Red Button?

  • Clavos

    No, but there was more than one mention of his Quaking, though not in that context…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    And I suppose, in a way, he did live up to his Quaker roots, what with his extricating the country from Vietnam and fashioning an Entente Demicordiale with China.

    Which latter also eventually accorded him the distinction of being the only American president to have an opera written about him…

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    B-tone, I’m sure that Christians weren’t the first to come up with some version of the idea of loving a person while disapproving of their actions. I was just ever so gently yanking your anti-religious chain.

    Brother Clavos – Easy there. I wasn’t accusing anyone of anything. Apparently I just got that little bit sloppy in making the entry. Looking around, I see variable spelling for “inoculate” or “innoculate.” One “n” seems to be the more common, though. It’s all good.

  • pablo

    On the minor subject of his dishonor Richard M Nixon. How many of you politicos out there know how Nixon got his start?

    There was an ad placed in the paper for someone to run for Congress, as in a want ad. Nixon answered it, thus began his career. FACT. Source? Nixon’s own autobiography where he revealed it.

    Who funded the Ad? A group calling itself (my memory may cause a misname) “Friends of California”. Who headed the group? None other than Prescott Bush.

    Just a tad of political trivia for ya folks.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Well, I’ll be darned! Whooda thunk?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Doc,

    Yes, perhaps President Nixon was the only president about whom an opera was written; I accept your thesis without reservation, even though Jefferson was a principal character in 1776, a mere musical production not rising to the level of opera.

    Query: was the Nixon opera performed at the Kennedy Center? Bipartisan culture is what we need.

    Dan

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Not only has it been performed there, Dan, the Kennedy Center actually commissioned the piece together with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Houston Grand Opera.

  • Baronius

    The Kennedy Center was an Eisenhower creation opened in the Nixon years, but as usual the Kennedy myth supercedes all such realities.

    There’s an opera in the works based on the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”. So we may have a former veep as a character in an opera.

  • Marcia Neil

    It is somewhat apparent that Obama also wishes to investigate the entertainment industry, an effort that is sociopolitically long overdue. The ‘bebop’ jazz era was accurately documented as the original instrumental recordings of various artists, but following generations of listeners, schooled musicians and factory owners have been liberal in their takings and usage of any original music recordings found lying around. Since a large number of such finds are recordings solely of human vocalizations not yet adapted to mechanical instrument presentation, the very big business of entertainment showcasing has ignored copyright law and the general population’s right to have truth-in-advertising (‘tia’). E.g., your original audiotape lying in a park is someone else’s big-payroll hit parade.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Riiiight…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Baronius,

    I can’t wait. Do you think it will be performed prior to the end of the world? Should it become a major motion picture, perhaps I will have an opportunity to watch it on DVD. We live in Panama at about 3,200 feet above sea level, so even with global warming-induced flooding, it should be possible to do so. I wait with “baited” (we will need all the fish we can catch) breath!

    Dan

  • Baronius

    Dan, I believe that it’s several years off (the opera). I just can’t imagine it actually happening (the opera or global warming).

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Baronius,

    Your comments are very distressing. I was so much looking forward to both.

    Dan

  • Clavos

    Especially GW.

    Think how much more water there will be for recreational boating!

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Bit hard to boat recreationally when ‘mild’ weather is a Category 5 hurricane…

  • Zedd

    Al,

    Great article. Funny! I thought you were serious a couple of times and got concerned.

    I couldn’t agree with you more about the manufactured indignation regarding this depiction. Obama and his people loved it. He got to be a victim, which “made” him more Black, and just as you said, he got to put an end to all of the nutty allegations. Even Fox has to say that the cartoons are mean… end of the line for Bubba and his dumb concerns.

    I don’t think that the people who are supposed to believe wacky stuff about Obama read the New Yorker, neither are the people who are seriously offended by the cover. It really wouldn’t matter what was printed about him, one group would truly think he was the devil and the other group, the messiah. Verdict, both groups… dumb as dirt.

  • Zedd

    On the religion and politicians thing….

    The relevance of whether you believe in God or not on how you make decisions is a strange thing really. We don’t see God at all. No one does, ever. While one may believe he exists, what role would one give him in his leadership position. One may look at a belief in the divine as motivation to do the most righteous or ethical thing. However believing in when no one has ever seen cant hurt anything because your belief does not make it be. God is either real or he is not. Your believing in him does not make him more or less effective.

    Now believing that you are chosen to do a certain task for God in your appointment is a different thing. Either you are nuts and that is concerning or, well, just keep it to yourself.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    I firmly believe that God chose me to be an atheist. The best way I can serve Him is to deny His existence. It will be my secret and obviously unexpected way into heaven via a little side door of which even St. Peter hasn’t been informed. I will then spend eternity snugly wedged under the left armpit of the “G” man confident in the knowledge that He doesn’t sweat and consequently, has no BO. It’ll be great.

    B-tone

  • SeriousConservative

    I think the conservatives in this country have in actuality become more retarded. I mean I love Obama and I am voting for him to be the next president but the man has no competition. The McCain add’s have gone too far and offended me even as a white middle aged male. But the article is ok sir you just need to be a little more on the same page. So what if Obama was to be a Muslim. There are 20,000 Americans that convert to Islam each year in this country. I feel so sad for America. What if a single man was to run for president, and he wasn’t married or had any kids, its sad that we like to look at a picture painted for us on the TV screen rather then looking for what the person can do for the country……wake up retards that don’t vote and vote.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    SC- You’re obviously starting out way to the left to find yourself so Deeply Offended by McCain’s ads. In any point of objective outlook, McCain’s been somewhat restrained. It’s Obama who’s just absolutely lying his ass off in ad after ad. And all the less than subtle insinuations that McCain is senile aren’t very nice, or true.

    Also, it would be a big deal if a candidate was a Muslim. I for one would be highly unlikely to vote for a Muslim for president – depending on the particular candidate. This statement would no doubt result in cries of “bigotry” or “racism” in some corners – but it’s not. It’s dealing with reality, and in the real world people’s religious beliefs are very important to their character and actions.

  • bliffle

    #4 Lee Richards

    “Al, You’re really all over the place with this one, so much so that I can’t separate the serious from the satire.”

    That’s because Al can’t separate his persona from his pose.

    Satire is a difficult form and Al is no good at it.

  • http://www.thepolitikos.com Heloise

    How long did it take for THIS article to be published? My movie reviews have had problems and have had to be redone.

    But here’s how editors @ BC work (generalizing): article submissin first. If they have to change more than two words, then they shoot it back to you for verbal or syntax repair.

    Two: if it is really problematic then they give you comments and you rewrite it if it wanders…which I’ve done in the past.

    Three: when the rewrite is done then maybe before the week’s out it will get published, promoted and out before the news is old.

    Four: No one is being paid here–I get that. I thank the editors here for their hard work. I can take a ad hominen attack as well as give one, thank you very much.

    I have been an editor for accounting books and authors. I am a writer and I often wander…Capricorns tend to do that.

    Heloise speaks!

  • http://gyasiman.blogspot.com gyasiman

    Barack Obama is the savior of the world. black man sense is different from white man sense, therefore Americans should give this man the chance to show what he got for this country.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Gyasiman- Perhaps you would dig THIS or THIS or THIS