Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The "Muslim Obama" Saga, part 137

Another example about how certain types of humour don't seem to translate so well across cultures.

Saudi media fall for Obama Muslim joke (AFP)
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — When a US satirist joked that President Barack Obama will admit to Congress that he is Muslim in his latest compromise with Republicans, Saudi media took it seriously.
On Friday the online version of Al-Hayat newspaper and the prominent news website Sabq.org both reported straightforwardly humourist Andy Borowitz's column that began:
"In his latest effort to find common ground with Republicans in Congress, President Barack Obama said today that he was willing to agree that he is a Muslim.
"In agreeing that he is a Muslim, Mr. Obama is sending a clear signal that he is trying to find consensus," Borowitz said in the column posted on the Huffington Post and The Borowitz Report websites this week.
Both Al-Hayat, one of the Middle East's most influential newspapers, and Sabq, believed to be controlled by the Saudi interior ministry, apparently missed the joke.
"Obama doesn't mind coming out as a Muslim if that will satisfy the Republicans," the Al-Hayat headline said.
"Obama: 'I'm ready to announce that I am a Muslim,'" led Sabq.
Both repeated Borowitz's "quote" of Obama saying:" My place of birth has been, and will always be, negotiable."
"White House sources indicated today that the president might be willing to meet the GOP (Grand Old Party -- the Republicans) halfway on his birthplace and say that he was born in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," Borowitz joked.
Despite Obama repeatedly saying he is Christian, because his native-Kenyan father was born a Muslim, and because his middle name is Hussein, many Muslims and even some US Republicans suspect he is secretly Muslim.
Borowitz's original piece that caused the confusion is here, and it's well worth a read; it perfectly captures both the current disallusionment on the left with Obama's capitulation to Republicans, as well as the stupidity that underlies the Obama-is-a-Muslim controversy. Borowitz is a funny-ass dude and one of the few people I follow on Twitter, that is on those rare occasions when I bother to glance at Twitter.
The sad thing is that, as you would expect, there will be many in America for whom articles like Borowitz's are not satire, but further proof that they are being governed by an evil swarthy Manchurian Candidate. If you're not familiar with it, the equation is as follows:
Barack Hussein Obama = Arabic middle name + lived in Indonesia + some Muslim relatives + black + doesn't obviously hate Muslims = Muslim = hates America = Terrorist


  1. muslims often want to believe that famous people are muslim, or converted to islam. e.g., michael jackson.

  2. @ Razib:
    True... although I think that's true of pretty much any group that is a minority or sees itself as a minority. Asians can get pretty excited at realising that a celebrity is part-Asian, for example. Of course religion is different to ethnicity because the latter is not a choice.