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The Smearing of Obama

This week’s Forward carries an editorial responding to an Internet whisper campaign that claims Barack Obama is somehow hiding a secret Muslim identity behind his devout Christianity, and that he might represent some covert threat. In particular, we examine the anxious mindset that leads all too many Americans, including Jewish Americans, to give credence to distortions that we call “implausible” and “amateurish.” The editorial seeks to argue that liberals have not yet found effective answers when faced with this sort of fear-mongering from the right. Smears cannot be fought until we understand why they penetrate in the first place. Unfortunately, some readers have complained that the editorial gives off the impression of endorsing the rumors, rather than dismissing them.

If that is so, then our argument must be restated more clearly and forcefully. So let’s be plain: We reject the politics of incitement and fear-mongering. We worry that this will be the 2008 equivalent of the Swift Boating of John Kerry. We do not endorse candidates, but we utterly reject attempts to demonize any candidate through the abuse of Jewish sensitivities. Barack Obama is a thoughtful, progressive American leader. To malign him is to deprive America of a powerful voice for the good.

Please see the Forward’s original editorial here.

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