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And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats - Matthew 25:32

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July 21, 2008


Michelle Obama and Barack Obama on The New YorkerFor starters, I'm obviously a racist. You can tell it because I used B Hussein Obama's middle name. That's pretty much evidence enough in some quarters. But if pronouncing his whole legal name is racist, then what about this image from The New Yorker and cartoonist Barry Blitt?

First, that's a beautiful image. Mr Blitt boiled a whole bunch of impressions, misimpressions, suspicions, blind internet rumors and just all round crazy conspiratorial nonsense into one beautifully detailed image. I just love how many layers of meaning come out of this one image, all the ways it was intended vs how it will be purposely or accidentially misinterpreted by others.

For starters, the basic intent of the magazine and cartoonist is fairly obvious and clear, and just as they will explain it if you ask: They are satirizing and mocking right wing and conspiracy nut types for their ridiculous and unfounded harsh opinions about Michelle and Barack Hussein Obama.

That's pretty straightforward. Pretty much everyone seems to get that point, but some good liberals still object, on grounds that maybe the hicks won't get that they're being mocked and take it at face value. In short, we're smart enough to understand, but this image is bad because the hicks might not be hip enough to get it.

Then there's the Obama campaign, which gets to pretend at being hurt. Spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement: "The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

John McCain had to get in on clucking his tongue a bit as well. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said: "We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it's tasteless and offensive." But then, McCain's people have probably the most legitimate excuse for wanting to go out of their way to not be associated with any of this.

All of the offended parties get the joke, but then so do most of us red state crackers. I haven't seen any indication that anyone did not get the satirical intent of the damn picture.

But what's interesting to me in all this is how this image seems to substantially innoculate the Obamas from a lot of serious and in some cases totally appropriate criticism or skepticism. Anyone who has concerns or objections to the Obamas that could even be broadly characterized to fit within that caricature of racist rightwing paranoia is, well, a dirty rightwing racist.

Consider to that end the image of Barack dressed as a Muslim. Obviously Barack Obama is not a practicing Muslim. He's an avowed Christian, whatever you may think of the pastor that brought him into the fold. You're pretty much of an idiot if you insist on thinking that he's a super secret Muslim, or took his oath as senator on a Koran. Shut up already, damn.

But then there are lots of perfectly reasonable and relevant concerns and uncertainty about Barack Obama's religious beliefs. Does he believe in American exceptionalism, as do most people, or what. He's got close Muslim relatives, and apparently spent at least a little time in mosque growing up - not that there's anything wrong with that.

But how much does he really believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ? With his Muslim background and non-believing left wing intellectual mom and his elitist Ivy League degrees, he mostly comes across as an aloof sophisticated multicultural secularist carefully mixing in some half-assed extremely watered down black preacher shtick for the boobs. After all, religion is something that poor dumb misguided bitter voters cling to, as he famously said in the San Francisco "bitter" remarks. For better or worse, you know that Dubya really does believe in Jesus - but does Barack really believe that Jesus rose from the dead?

Does Barack really believe in Christ, or is he a secular Ivy League multiculturalist who would view Islam as an equally valid and beautiful cultural expression? Answers to questions like that seem quite valid and relevant to me, things that might well would impact how I might vote. I would NOT be inclined to look favorably on a US presidential candidate who would see such equivalence. This of course makes ME the goat, one of them there racist conspiracy mongering nutjobs like they made fun of on that famous cover of The New Yorker. (Do you remember The New Yorker? This is a story about The New Yorker.)

See how that works? All kinds of perfectly reasonable questions and objections get bunched together in disrepute, all package-dealed into ridicule with the most ridiculous possible uninformed opinion that sounds the least bit like it.

Likewise, I'm sure that Michelle Obama has never literally burned a US flag. But she sure does manage to come off sounding pretty anti-American at times, with complaints about America being "mean" and only ever being proud of America as an adult when they began voting for her husband for president. I don't know that those comments from the missus would be a major determinant of my vote, but those harsh words for her countrymen do weigh a point or two against Barack for choosing a person with such views as his soulmate. This of course makes me equivalently ridiculous as those dumb rednecks they satirized at The New Yorker who insist that Michelle is burning flags and such.

Plus, there's the stupid people who think the Obamas are black radicals, who think Michelle Obama is some Angela Davis character, like depicted in The New Yorker. Man are they dumb. That presumably includes particularly everyone who for some crazy no doubt dishonest reason want to hold Obama's association with Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers against him. So here I am, the goat again. (Hey, that could be my epitaph.)

Ah well, might as well go all the way:

IS BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA THE ANTI-CHRIST? Enquiring bitter minds want to know!

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posted by Al at 7/21/2008 01:38:00 AM

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