Ryan Chartrand

Now that Illinois Senator Barack Obama is running for president, many conservative groups have taken it upon themselves to “educate” you about Obama’s past, before you get a chance to. The most ominous of these efforts to smear Sen. Obama is the “Let us Remain Alert” movement appearing on several conservative Web sites, message boards and e-mails.

Apparently, conservatives are worried over the fact that when Obama was 6 years old he spent a year at a Madrassas, a Muslim religious school, the implication being that he is somehow a Muslim Manchurian Candidate. However, this ignorance isn’t just limited to radical bloggers as surprisingly Fox News has gotten in on the act.

Last Friday, Fox and Friends did a “biographical” piece on Obama’s past, which focused solely on the Madrassas issue, overlooking the fact that Obama is a Christian and has been a member of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ since 1988. In fact, Fox News even titled the segment: “Barack’s Background: Past History or Madrassas Matters?” Immediately after the segment, co-host, Steve Doocy, claimed that all these madrassas “teach this Wahhabism, which pretty much hates us,” and then actually asked: “Was wahhabism on Obama’s curriculum back then?”

If that weren’t bad enough, Fox then took a call from a screened viewer who said: “I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to.”

Fortunately, right before the commercial the other co-host, Gretchen Carlson clarified the station’s position on the Obama matter: “We want to be clear, too, that this isn’t all Muslims, of course, we would only be concerned about the kind that want to blow us up.” Well said, Gretchen. At least someone here is keeping Fox stupid and ignorant.I mean “fair and balanced.”

Sadly, as bad as this Obama incident was on Fox, this was not the first time conservatives have questioned the integrity of a politician due to his Muslim background. During the Nov. 14 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck interviewed Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who had just become the first Muslim ever elected to Congress on Nov. 7, and said, “I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’” Of course, Beck then cleared up his statement by adding: “I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.”

The worst part about this incident between Beck and Ellison is that Beck is right when he says “I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.” If a lot of Americans didn’t feel that way, then Beck’s show and Fox and Friends wouldn’t exist. I guess as long as we live in a “post Sept. 11” world these unfair stereotypes will continue to hang over many Muslim heads living in the West. I guess all we can do is hope that people like Obama and Ellison stay classy and keep proving “a lot of Americans” wrong.

Patrick Molnar is a business sophomore and Mustang Daily political columnist.

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