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Obama Bows to Muslim Demands

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Barack Obama succumbed to Muslim demands.

It started at a campaign event that Obama held last Monday, at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. There have been very few news reports about this matter, but they all seem to point to a consistent turn of events.

Before the event kicked-off, a campaign staffer (who apparently was female and black, should anybody care) approached two young men in the crowd and asked if they’d like to sit up on the platform, and appear behind Obama while he was speaking from the podium.

As the two guys accepted the invitation, one of them asked the campaign staffer if he could bring his “friends” along. The staffer then began inquiring about the friends - - what do the friends look like, how are the friends dressed, and so forth. And when it became apparent that the friends were women with traditional, Muslim-looking head coverings, the staffer said “no” to the request.

According to one report, the staffer indicated that nobody wearing any kind of head covering would be permitted on the candidate’s platform - - no ball caps, no scarves, nothing.

Obama finally arrived at the arena and the event got underway. But after the fact, the two supposedly “snubbed” Muslim women unleashed a carefully orchestrated public relations campaign of indignation, and victimization.

Now let’s get something straight: the careful screening of people who will appear within camera shot of a candidate or an elected official is standard practice. This is an especially crucial process in cases of presidents and presidential candidates. By our own cultural standards, it seems harsh to offer or deny opportunity to people based solely on their physical appearance. But the appearance of the people surrounding an elected official (or candidate) is almost as important as the appearance of the official himself, and they are both a part of the image, and therefore the message, that the official is trying to project.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have taken this kind of “image making” to new levels of sophistication. When President Clinton would deliver a speech from a podium to a “general audience,” there would almost always be both white people and black people visible behind him, even within the most narrow of camera shots. President Bush has followed this practice, expanding the “image base” to include overtly Hispanic, Native American Indian, and Asian-looking people in his midst.

And this is why, when Michelle Obama appeared at Carnegie Mellon University prior to the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary election last April, the campaign staffers made for certain that there were lots of white folks on the platform behind her. Hillary Clinton was walloping Barack Obama in the polls among white voters (she went on to wallop him among white voters in the election), and Team Obama needed to convey the image that, despite his being black, white voters still go for Barack.

And the Obama gang was doing its job last Monday in Detroit. That meant no women in Muslim-looking head gear on camera with the candidate. Why? For one thing, Obama is fighting the perception that he is, himself, a Muslim. Similarly, the imagery of Muslim-looking women and men symbolizes terrorism in the minds of many Americans. Obama cannot appear as though he’s being friendly, or accommodating, with terrorists.

So two Muslim women were denied the privilege of appearing on camera with Obama, and they apparently went about pitching a fit. And right then and there, even as Obama was delivering his speech at Joe Louis Arena Monday - - Sharif Aref , the brother of Hebba Aref, one of the snubbed Muslim women, was speaking on microphone to reporters, delivering a well-crafted message about the incident that boiled-down to three parts: A) This incident is out of character for Obama, because he has run on a platform of uniting all Americans; B) This incident has happened because Obama is trying to dispel the myth that he is a Muslim and, therefore, is distancing himself from Muslims; and C) We (whoever “We” might include) still support Obama, but he needs to apologize to “us.”

After Monday’s event, the news spread among America‘s Muslim activists, and by Thursday, Obama had personally telephoned both women, Hebba Aref and Shimaa Abdelfadeel, and apologized. On Friday, Hebba Aref told the Detroit Free Press that she had accepted Obama’s apology, and that she was looking forward to sitting on stage with him at a future event.

But what exactly was Obama apologizing for? And who are these people - - the Muslim activists - - who believe that they are entitled to appear on stage with a presidential candidate?

This incident gives every appearance of having been a “set-up:” The women dressed so as to overtly appear Muslim; they got denied the right to appear with Obama; and then they became outraged and started demanding things from Obama.

The worst part of this is that Obama acquiesced, and offered his apology when he had done nothing wrong.

The next U.S. President will face untold challenges and “set-ups” from Muslims, both domestically and abroad. If candidate Obama is so willing to meet Muslim demands in a situation as absurd as this one, how quick would President Obama be to meet Muslim demands when the stakes are higher?

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