America the Ignorant: Dumb things Americans believe.
Chances are that by now you've heard about the August 19, 2010 Pew poll that found that nearly one fifth of Americans (mistakenly) believe that President Obama is a Muslim. Perhaps you think that a terrifying outlier; or perhaps you're a believer, and then you are in good company. Either way, you're wrong: in fact, a remarkably high numbers of Americans believe the most unusual things
An earlier version of the paragraph above contained "wrongly" instead of "mistakenly". Man, does that parenthetical ever speak volumes? You can almost feel the finger-wagging admonishment, can't you?
If the feature is "America the Ignorant" then it automatically implies that the just-under 20% of Americans that believe Obama to be a Muslim are wrong... so then why, in effect, repeat one's self? Could it be that there is something else at play here?
Is it a condescending admonishment not necessarily because Obama being a Muslim is obviously factually incorrect or is it an upbraiding for suggesting something impolite, as in, it is poor form to suggest that Obama is a Muslim? But why would that suggestion or belief be impolite? Why would Newsweek, of all publications have a problem with people believing Obama is a Muslim? Would they have a problem if, indeed, Obama was a Muslim? Do they, in fact, have a problem with the Islamic faith? This is highly curious rhetoric of Newsweek for which we need some clarification.
If Newsweek believe themselves (mistakenly) to be a venue of serious journalism for current events, politics and culture, then we believe some answers need to be forthcoming.
(UPDATE #1): KT, who was kind enough to link to this post poses the question: Why is it that these polling outfits are asking people whether they think Obama is a Muslim?
We believe the answer is two-fold: First, it's August. Congress is in recess and nothing is happening. Well, nothing is happening except for a daily barrage this week of bad economic news. Other than that, it's somewhat of a to-be-expected silly season question.
Secondly, and more importantly it was a bit of circling of the wagons by the media. The President's approval numbers are down and the economy appears headed for a double-dip recession. What better way to distract the electorate from this unpleasantness than to mock and ridicule them by setting up this type of question (In that same Newsweek feature, they reveal that 20% of Americans believe that the Sun revolves around the Earth which may prove only that depending on how you word the question, you can find 20% of Americans to believe about anything)?
Of course, weaved into this narrative of ignorance is bigotry especially as it relates to the Ground Zero Mosque. Here's former Labor Secretary, Robert Reich (H/T: KT):
Many Americans (and politicians who [sic] the polls) don't want a mosque at Manhattan's Ground Zero. . . .
Where is all this coming from?
It's called fear. When people are deeply anxious about holding on to their homes, their jobs, and their savings, they look for someone to blame. And all too often they find it in "the other"--in people who look or act differently, who come from foreign lands, who have what seem to be strange religions, who cross our borders illegally. . . .
Economic fear is the handmaiden of intolerance. It's used by demagogues who redirect the fear and anger toward people and groups who aren't really to blame but are easy scapegoats.
They cling to their guns and religion condescension cannot be contained.
Do you want to know who "the other" are in this country? It's people like Reich and his ilk in the ruling class. Those are the people we fear. The tyrants and those with tyrannical aspirations are the ones that get the rest of us running for our god, guns and whiskey.
That Reich and the rest of the ruling class cannot at least understand why the vast majority of Americans have reservations about the placement of that Mosque speaks volumes to the disconnect suffered by these people. Instead of seeking to understand, they immediately start rambling about "the other", when the rest of us know exactly who "the other" is. Ironic, no?