I feel that I’ve used this blog, over the past 10 years or so, to consistently defend the average American. I find he or she to be fairly intelligent and not especially naïve (contrary to accusations often leveled by those on the left.) Nor do I find he/she to be particularly hedonistic or degenerate (contrary to accusations often leveled by those on the right who equate American culture with a modern Gomorrah.) One area where I don’t defend Americans, is their ever increasing fatness. As I watch the innumerable obese, jiggling monstrosities wobbling down the streets, or forcing their corpulent forms through the doorway of the Sizzler, I feel only a great shame for my nation.
On the other hand, you read stuff like this, and have to wonder whether a significant portion of the American populace is retarded.
One Fifth (Wrongly) Think Obama’s Muslim
It’s the old canard that just won’t die. A Pew poll this week found that 18 percent of Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim. Then came a Time magazine poll, taken after Obama’s comments last weekend supporting the rights of developers to build a mosque near Ground Zero, prompting screaming front-page headlines such as “Allah Right With Me” in the New York Post. The newer poll’s finding? 24 percent think Obama is a Muslim. Suspicion (for want of a better word) is especially high among Republicans—in the Pew poll 31 percent of GOP voters believe Obama is a Muslim, compared with 46 percent in Time’s. The White House has responded that Obama is a Christian and “prays every day.”
These beliefs fly so directly in the face of every public statement made on the matter, and appear to be so unaware of the Reverend Wright controversy which so plagued Obama, that you have to conclude that the kind of person who thinks this is a complete and utter moron.
That said, I think these polls need to be taken with a grain of salt. I suspect that many of these people are fully aware that Obama attends a Christian church and has repeatedly professed Christian beliefs, but they dislike him enough that when questioned in a poll they reach for the obvious slander. I suspect that if you put a gun to their head and insisted they state what they really believe to be true, you would get a different answer. I suspect the same is true of many people who believe George Bush planned 9/11 — it feels good to say it, but deep down they realize it’s absurd.
Do I think Obama is a Christian? Not entirely. I suspect he thinks he is, and he’s certainly put his time in the pews, but there does seem to be an element of doubt to his beliefs. And he must be aware that being Christian is mandatory to achieving political office in this country. Of course, any question about religious beliefs is tricky — it’s not necessarily a binary equation. Some people might strongly believe in God, but be open to the possibility of his nonexistence, and the opposite is also true. Everyone knows I’m an atheist, but every so often I think of the fact that butterflies make these incredible round the world journeys, or that salmon manage to catch him find their way, against all odds, to their spawning ground, and I have to wonder whether it’s truly possible through undesigned evolution. (For the record, I do believe it’s possible, but something still nags at me.)
By the way, my thoughts on this mosque controversy? I completely support the Muslims right to build it — or, more specifically, I support limiting the government’s ability to tell people who can build what where — and think the whole thing is such a nonissue that I’m embarrassed to waste even seconds thinking about it.