And if the Guy’s Name Was Steve? Oops, I Mean Abdullah?


Barack Obama’s campaign just sent me the following clip from Marc Ambinder’s blog:

Just Asking…
If there were a group of questionable donations all with the name Steve
that were funneled through a guy in Jordan
who is a Jordanian national
who is under investigation for war profiteering
and it were Barack Obama
instead of John McCain
would this be a bigger deal?

Oops, I goofed. Ambinder’s blog post and the Obama campaign email had “Abudullah” where “Steve” appears.
To answer Ambinder’s question, I bet the press would pounce in a nasty way on Obama if this campaign finance violation had been his — and it SHOULD be doing more to tag McCain with it.
Obama should stand by his principles — while at the same time highlighting discriminatory bias in the press — but he and his team should not yield to discriminatory tendencies themselves.
Senator Obama — don’t be shy of the name “Abdullah.” Don’t perpetuate negative sterotypes of the name “Abdullah” — and while you are highlighting media bias — be sure to let the world know when you send emails out to the media that you yourself are not saying that a guy named Abdullah should be more suspect than a guy named “Steve.”
If one goes to Facebook and looks at Obama’s fans of which there are now 1,291,651 (and rising), there are lots of Abdullahs and lots of other non-Western names of young people who have placed their hope and trust in his style and substance of leadership.
America has more than enough institutionalized bias against Muslims, including those who are citizens of this country, that it doesn’t need to see a Barack Obama — in whom so many have hope to move beyond this kind of thing — become a promulgator of anti-Muslimism, even indirectly.
This is not a harsh criticism — but let’s not be sending more email out saying that John McCain should have been on alert for taking a donation “from a guy named Abdullah.”
— Steve Clemons
P.S. For those into Facebook, here is my page as well as a new fans page for The Washington Note.
P.S.S. Happy birthday to Marc Ambinder.


7 comments on “And if the Guy’s Name Was Steve? Oops, I Mean Abdullah?

  1. Steve Clemons says:

    Jonore — thanks for your note. Read my piece again. I say that this is not a major issue and their should be no over-reaction. But I won’t stand quietly when I see campaigns explicitly or indirectly promulgate ethnic discrimination of a minority in the U.S. I had enough of this from Bush and the way Muslims have been treated. I know Obama is not a racist — of course he isn’t. But having the campaign itself send a note out without any qualifier at all is wrong.
    To some degree, there are some in the Obama campaign — and they are rivals of the view I have — who think that the more alienated American muslims are from Obama, the more secure he is with the financially important givers in the Democratic party.
    So, happy to discuss — but I am not engaged in rants but rather expressing serious concerns about Obama’s positioning and direction when it comes to American Muslims — and to Muslims elsewhere.
    Let’s argue the merits on both sides — best,
    steve clemons


  2. jonore says:

    Tahoe Editor…his comments are certainly aimed at Obama since he mentions him throughout the critique…Steve refers to Obama in each paragraph directly. Accusations such as “craven attempts to play the victim” and “identity politics at the core of the Obama campaign” are grossly unfair and inaccurate.
    The point of the Obama campaign email was simply to emphasize the unequal media focus and attention that is given to McCain…i.e. Obama would be under extreme scrutiny and questioning if the same donation scenario had occurred to his campaign unlike the McCain scrutiny so far. The main point was not to scour the donation list for all people with Muslim or Middle Eastern sounding names.
    Ranting about Obama as a “promulgator of anti-Muslimism” is over the top and unnecessary to produce constructive engagement on the Muslim topic.
    I admire Steve’s work, but his position on this specific topic is misplaced needs to be discussed further.


  3. Tahoe Editor says:

    Steve’s not ranting about Obama. He is rightly pointing out the identity politics at the core of the Obama campaign and their repeated craven attempts to play the victim — without concern for those they victimize in the process.


  4. jonore says:

    Steve…I read the post above a few times just to make sure I got it right…sounds like a tremendous overreaction by you to the email. It seems this is a carryover from your post yesterday about Obama’s Muslim coordinator.
    I hope you will take a deep breath before condemning the Obama campaign…and Obama himself… again. Ranting against Obama, in this way, does nothing to promote a rational dialogue that will move forward change for Muslims in an Obama administration.


  5. cab91 says:

    Obama has no principle other than Me First.
    To suggest that he has other principles would mean he’d have to stand by them when push comes to shove and, heaven forfend, make someone mad. And if you’re a post-partisan, like Obama, you don’t want to do that.


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