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Robert Jeffress and Barack Obama's Faith

Published: 23/12/2011 06:41:00 AM GMT
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In Robert Jeffress' appearance on the Fox Network, he engaged in a practice that has become commonplace on the Fox Network, implying that Barack Obama is a “secret Muslim.” This Southern Baptists pastor condemned Barack Obama for not giving Easter its public recognition, and then continued with the usual code words to imply that Barack Obama is not a “true American” but a “Muslim.” The fact that a supposedly reputable news network allowed this kind of rhetoric on the air is a sad sign of the status Muslims hold in American society. The statements that Robert Jeffress made on national television cannot be viewed as nothing except racist. Using the word “Muslim” as an insult, as a way to demean another person is comparable to calling someone a “Jew” in reference to every single negative stereotype that has been associated with Judaism. While this would be completely unacceptable in today's American society (although would not have raised any eyebrows fifty years ago,) using the word “Muslim” as an insult has become completely acceptable in the present political discourse.

What no one at the Fox Network, and certainly not Robert Jeffress, pointed out is that absolutely no president has officially recognized Easter through a proclamation. After all, Easter is a purely religious holiday, and has no place in official government business. Something that the Fox Network and Robert Jeffress also failed to point out is that President Barack Obama had repeatedly mentioned Easter in non-official statements, and held a special Easter breakfast just a few days before Robert Jeffress' appearance on the Fox Network. The fact that Robert Jeffress failed to raise the same objection about any other previous president suggests that his remarks are actually motivated on Barack Obama's race rather than any true religious sentiment.

This is a particularly thorny situation for Muslims. The United States has had a long struggle with racial disparity and granting civil rights to black people. In fact, Islam had a huge role to play in the civil rights movement, particularly as many of those involved in the fight for civil rights embraced Islam as the religion of their ancestors, forcibly taken away when they were captured and sold as slaves to the plantations in the southern states. Now, a large portion of the American public is upset about having a black president. While it is completely unacceptable in the United States to refer to the president as a “nigger” on national television, it seems that the people at the Fox Network and Robert Jeffress have found that the word “Muslim” works as a way to replace it.

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