James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Mos Def, Zalmay Khalilzad & Keith Ellison: Which doesn’t belong?

Posted by James McPherson on July 16, 2008

The answer to the above question, of course, is Barack Obama–who, despite the fact that apparently a quarter of the American population is still dumb enough to believe that Obama was raised a Muslim, is the only non-Muslim on the list.

The question is relevant because of what Obama pointed out with Larry King last night. The New Yorker cover that has drawn so much attention is a cartoon, not particularly noteworthy for what it says about Obama, but because it is “an insult against Muslim Americans.” Obama admitted that he has not been as diligent as he should have been about pointing out that there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim in America.

George Bush and Dick Cheney apparently agrees, though they’d probably never say so publicly because fear-based politics remain their only tenuous thread to American support. But Bush appointed Khalilzad as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (one of few effective Bush appointments regarding Iraq), and Cheney once awarded Khalilzad a medal for outstanding public service.

Mos Def is widely popular and a musician and actor, though he likely won’t be receiving any awards from the Bush administration. You can see a sample of why below in a song that includes the lines, “I don’t rap for dead presidents. I’d rather see the president dead.” (Warning: Some people will find the language offensive.)

Muhammad Ali is one of the most-respected sports figures in the world, and was chosen to light the Olympic torch for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Two years ago Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison became the first Muslim elected to Congress. They are just a few among the many famous Muslims in and outside of the United States, including doctors, politicians and others, who have made significant contributions to American lives.

Many of them, like Obama, even pledge allegiance to the American flag.

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2 Responses to “Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Mos Def, Zalmay Khalilzad & Keith Ellison: Which doesn’t belong?”

  1. […] agree. Not that it matters much–despite the loons who still maintain that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, no non-Christian has mounted a serious candidacy for decades, other than perhaps Mormon Mitt […]

  2. […] agree. Not that it matters much–despite the loons who still maintain that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, no non-Christian has mounted a serious candidacy for decades, other than perhaps Mormon Mitt […]

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