Going beyond even Pamela Geller, Fox News regular Erik Rush responded to the Boston Marathon bombing today by suggesting that we round up Saudis and then kill them — but don’t worry, he was mostly joking.
Latching onto a thinly sourced New York Post report that police have detained a Saudi national (the city’s police commissioner later said that they have no suspects in the bombing yet), Rush tweeted, “Everybody do the National Security Ankle Grab! Let’s bring more Saudis in without screening them! C’mon! #bostonmarathon.” The columnist, who boasts on his Twitter bio that he “was the first to break the story of Barack Obama’s ties to militant preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright on a national level,” followed up with a response to someone asking if he was blaming Muslims: “Yes, they’re evil. Kill them all.”
The argument being highlighted here is not that we should profile white men, but that profiling, as it exists in this country, targets altogether disproportionately and hypocritically Muslims and people of color, i.e double standards are at work. For some reason, one set of rules applies to marginalized groups and another set of rules to groups in power.
My interview with MSNBC ignites a conservative media firestorm — and exposes America’s dangerous double standard BY DAVID SIROTA
Yesterday, during a cable news discussion of gun violence and the Newtown school shooting, I dared mention a taboo truism. During a conversation on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes,” I said that because most of the mass shootings in America come at the hands of white men, there would likely be political opposition to initiatives that propose to use those facts to profile the demographic group to which these killers belong. I suggested that’s the case because as opposed to people of color or, say, Muslims, white men as a subgroup are in such a privileged position in our society that they are the one group that our political system avoids demographically profiling or analytically aggregating in any real way. Indeed, unlike other demographic, white guys as a group are never thought to be an acceptable topic for any kind of critical discussion whatsoever, even when there is ample reason to open up such a discussion.
My comment was in response to U.S. Rep. James Langevin (D) floating the idea of employing the Secret Service for such profiling, and I theorized that because the profiling would inherently target white guys, the political response to such an idea might be similar to the Republican response to the 2009 Homeland Security report looking, in part, at the threat of right-wing terrorism. As you might recall, the same GOP that openly supports profiling — and demonizing— Muslims essentially claimed that the DHS report was unacceptable because its focus on white male terrorist groups allegedly stereotyped (read: offensively profiled) conservatives.
The conservative response to my statement, though, is the real news here.
Let’s review: Any honest observer should be able to admit that if the gunmen in these mass shootings mostly had, say, Muslim names or were mostly, say, African-American men, the country right now wouldn’t be confused about the causes of the violence, and wouldn’t be asking broad questions. There would probably be few queries or calls for reflection, and mostly definitive declarations blaming the bloodshed squarely on Islamic fundamentalism or black nationalism, respectively. Additionally, we would almost certainly hear demands that the government intensify the extantprofiling systems already aimed at those groups.
Yet, because the the perpetrators in question in these shootings are white men and not ethnic or religious minorities, nobody is talking about demographic profiling them as a group. The discussion, instead, revolves around everything from gun control, to mental health services, to violence in entertainment — everything, that is, except trying to understanding why the composite of these killers is so similar across so many different massacres. This, even though there are plenty of reasons for that topic to be at least a part of the conversation.
Recounting the truth of these double standards is, of course, boringly mundane, which means my comment on television summarizing them is an equally boring and mundane statement of the obvious. However, as evidenced by the aggressive attempt to turn those comments into controversial headline-grabbing news over the weekend, the conservative movement has exposed its desperation — specifically, its desperation to preserve its White Victimization Mythology.
In this mythology, the white man as a single demographic subgroup can never be seen as a perpetrator and must always be portrayed as the unfairly persecuted scapegoat. In this mythology, to even reference an undeniable truth about how white privilege operates on a political level (in this case, to prevent a government profiling system of potential security threats even though such a system exists for other groups) is to be guilty of both “injecting divisive racial politics” and somehow painting one’s “opponents as racist” — even when nobody called any individual a racist.
In this mythology, in short, to mention truths about societal double standards — truths that are inconvenient or embarrassing to white people — is to be targeted for attack by the right-wing media machine.
Of course, just as I didn’t make such an argument yesterday on MSNBC, I’m not right now arguing for a system of demographically profiling white guys as a means of stopping mass murderers (that’s right, the headline at Beck’s website, the Blaze, is categorically lying by insisting I did make such an argument, when the MSNBC video proves that’s not even close to true). After all, broad demographic profiling is not only grotesquely bigoted in how it unduly stereotypes whole groups, it also doesn’t actually work as a security measure and runs the risk of becoming yet another Big Brother-ish monster (this is especially true when a lawmaker is forwarding the idea of deploying a quasi-military apparatus like the Secret Service).
Additionally, I’m not saying we should avoid the complex discussion about myriad issues (gun control, mental health, violence in Hollywood products, etc.) that we are having in the aftermath of the Connecticut tragedy. On the contrary, I believe it is good news that those nuanced conversations — rather than simplistic calls for punitive measures against a demographic group — are able to happen, and it’s particularly good news that they are persisting in the face of pro-gun extremists’ besteffort to polarize the conversation.
But the point here is that those tempered and nuanced conversations are only able to happenbecause the demographic at the center of it all is white guys. That is the one group in America that gets to avoid being referred to in aggregate negative terms (and gets to avoid being unduly profiled by this nation’s security apparatus), which means we are defaulting to a much more dispassionate and sane conversation — one that treats the perpetrators as deranged individuals, rather than typical and thus stereotype-justifying representatives of an entire demographic.
While such fair treatment should be the norm for all citizens, the double standard at work makes clear it is still a special privilege for a select white few. That’s the issue at the heart of my comment on MSNBC — and it is a pressing problem no matter how much the conservative media machine wants to pretend it isn’t.
Robert Greenwald, a documentarian is working on a new film, Drones Exposed, and though it is sad that we live in a world in which there has to be a documentary about drones and their repugnant aftermath, it is nevertheless important that we do not remain in the dark about what is happening in our name.
Regardless of the fraught so-called strategic outlook on why we use drones, having the blood of 178 children (if not more) on our hands is a national issue that we, as U.S. citizens or any conscientious person must address; it is the anti-War issue of our time. Imagine how many countless families we have brought pain and devastation to with these phantom-like air machines raining death and destruction from the skies? And just imagine the unheard repercussions of the drone strikes: each survivor will tell their family and friends that the bombs that killed their loved ones read, “Made in the USA.” Questions will be raised such as “Why do they hate us?”
A vital question remains unacknowledged: Do we have any idea what terrorism really is?
We utilize the best means at our disposal to go into foreign lands and blow up the people we consider the bad guys even if that means collateral damage in the form of civilian casualties. When someone does that exact same thing to us, don’t we call it “terrorism”?
Below is a short video and report by Robert Greenwald exposing what Drones truly do: destroy and terrorize:
During my recent trip to Pakistan as part of our upcoming documentary film, Drones Exposed, I was struck most by the stories told to me by children who had experienced a U.S. drone strike firsthand. The impact of America’s drone war in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen will linger on, especially for the loved ones of the 178 children killed in those countries by U.S. drone strikes.
War Costs’ latest video (with accompanying report) brings attention to the children who have died as a result of drone strikes. The video names some of the children who perished in these strikes, and points out the obfuscation tactics of American officials who will not own up to the significant amount of civilian casualties that have occurred due to this legally- and morally-dubious policy.
In addition to the video, War Costs offers this report detailing the effects of drone strikes on children. The findings come mainly from the diligent investigative reporting of TBIJ and the groundbreaking reports on the impact of drone strikes by Stanford and New York University researchers (Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan) and researchers at Columbia University (The Civilian Impact of Drones: Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions).
In an effort to compel answers about why these innocent civilians have died without acknowledgement or explanation from the U.S. government, War Costs is calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to debate and pass Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bill that calls for more transparency regarding U.S. drone strike policy. For more on War Costs’ upcoming drones film, visit our website, or at Facebook and Twitter.
Last night the question about the United States’ use of drone warfare was first directed to Mitt Romney, his response was Machiavellian in nature,
Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world.
For Romney, the end justifies the means. Sadly but unsurprisingly Obama responded in a similar Machiavellian spirit, articulating his response by skirting the issue while retaining the veneer of tough rhetoric and bravado,
We’re always also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities.
Yes, “maintain vigilance” especially when drone strikes in Pakistan kill one terrorist for every 50 deaths, according to a recent article from Policymic. The same article makes mention of who is to blame for all these innocent deaths,
The New York Times and Associated Press have both reported that President Obama acts as “the final decision maker” in drone strikes targeting individuals, placing the burden for answers squarely on the Commander-in-Chief.
Yet, the Commander-in-Chief had very little to say last night regarding this topic. He avoided it at every cost.
This debate was indeed, as Salon.com points out, something to be ashamed of. Most of the time it was simply Romney making points that Obama would articulate better; what better way to display that than both candidates obsessing over who loves Israel more and who supports the most “crippling” sanctions on Iran. Even though Obama’s delivery was stronger, unfortunately, the debate did not imbue us with the promise of a better four years to come — no matter who wins the election.
The Salon article below by Andrew Leonard explains how Romney and the Far-Right’s endorsement of Obama’s unconstitutional and inhumane tactics — such as assassination of American citizens, drone warfare and detention without trial – allows for a type of quid pro quo between the “Right” and the “Left” to the detriment of Human Rights and peace.
It was the moment progressives had been waiting for. Bob Schieffer turned to Mitt Romney and said, “What is your position on the use of drones?”
Twitter gasped. Up to that point, Schieffer had thrown one softball after another, but here was the high hard one down the middle. For many liberals, President Obama’s aggressive deployment of drones to kill suspected terrorists in northwestern Pakistan is a stain on the current administration that cannot be washed away, a profound betrayal of civilized values. A campaign of murder from the skies in a country that is supposedly our ally — how is this remotely conscionable?
But liberals are also accustomed to Obama getting a free pass on the topic from the mainstream media and political elite. So just hearing the word “drones” spoken was shocking — here it was, finally, a chance to address this ongoing national shame before an audience of millions and millions of Americans.
And then came Romney’s response, which basically boiled down to drones are awesome!
Well, I believe that we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that entirely and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology and believe that we should continue to use it to continue to go after the people who represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.
End of discussion. Obama did not even mention the word “drones” in his followup to Romney’s comments, aside from a vague “we’re always also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities.” And all those progressives whose ears had perked up when Schieffer raised the issue returned to their default position: Soul-killing despair.
There were numerous other instances during the debate when the two candidates vied with each other to express hardline positions on issues that drive progressives crazy. The fight to see who could declare himself the greater friend to Israel, and the (closely related) struggle to establish who supports the most “crippling” sanctions on Iran come immediately to mind.
OBAMA: Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I’ve made that clear throughout my presidency.
ROMNEY: I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States, when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And — and if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily.
OBAMA: We then organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy. Their currency has dropped 80 percent. Their oil production has plunged to the lowest level since they were fighting a war with Iraq 20 years ago. So their economy is in a shambles.
ROMNEY: Crippling sanctions are something I’d called for five years ago… And they do work. You’re seeing it right now in the economy. It’s absolutely the right thing to do to have crippling sanctions. I’d have put them in place earlier, but it’s good that we have them.
And so on. I’m not sure if there’s ever been a debate in which the two candidates expressed so much fundamental agreement on major foreign policy issues. But nothing underscores the dilemma that progressives face on the lack of a meaningful foreign policy choice more than the exchange on drones. Romney’s endorsement of drone warfare laid out with perfect clarity why President Obama has been free to pursue policies — extrajudicial assassination of American citizens, drone warfare, detention without trial — that appear to clearly violate basic human rights, not to mention the U.S. Constitution.
He can do so because he is never going to be questioned from the right on such tactics.
Quite the contrary — the main line of attack is to berate Obama for being too soft. Ponder this: In the same debate in which Romney applauded the president for using “any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us,” he also slammed Obama for his “apology tour” throughout the Arab world. If you’re perplexed at how to reconcile Obama’s drone war of terror in Waziristan with the idea that he’s been wandering the globe saying “I’m sorry” to our enemies, well, join the crowd. It’s not easy.
It was probably always true that a president whose middle name was Hussein would be required to protect his flank from the right more than the left on foreign policy issues related to the Mideast. It’s also true that when voters are asked to rank what issues they think are most important, the moral ambiguity of drone warfare doesn’t register anywhere close to the top ten. One can also make a realpolitik argument that targeting Al Qaeda networks with drone bombs in Pakistan is amuch smarter and more efficient use of resources than invading an entire country that had no connection whatsoever to the 9/11 attacks.
But the stain remains. And no matter how sincerely Obama touts his record supporting democracy during the Arab Spring in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia; no matter how strong a case can be made that intervening in Libya to prevent a likely horrendous massacre of civilians by Gadhafi was justifiable; the net effect of Obama’s foreign policy, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in Israel and Iran, is to breed more resentment and hatred of the U.S. in the Islamic world.
We could use a real debate on how to resolve that paradox. But we’re not going to get one.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has worked hard to distance himself from his party’s hawkish foreign policy, carefully cultivating an image as libertarian hero that may one day carry on the legacy — and potentially presidential ambitions — of his father, Rep. Ron Paul. He goes out of his way to criticize his party’s foreign policy, writing an Op-Ed on CNN.com last week attacking Mitt Romney’s “bellicose[ness]” in the Middle East during the debate. Paul has railed against military interventionism, vowed to cut the defense budget, called for a reduction in military bases overseas and otherwise alienated himself from the party’s powerful neoconservative wing as much as possible.
But there’s one area where Paul’s self-described libertarian freedom agenda is trumped by the ugliest type of neoconservative fear-mongering: Muslim-baiting. RandPAC, Paul’s political committee, is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking three Democratic senators for voting for foreign aid to Muslim countries. Paul introduced a bill to cut off foreign aid to Egypt, Pakistan and Libya. While there are some totally valid arguments supporting his bill, instead of making them, the commercials go for the nastiest attack possible, essentially accusing Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida and Sherrod Brown of Ohio of siding with jihadis and terrorists over Americans.
“Instead of putting hard-working West Virginians first, you voted to send billions of taxpayer dollars to nations where they shout ‘death to America,’ kill our Ambassador and allow radical Islamists to burn our embassies,” a petition on the RandPAC website accompanying the Manchin ad reads. “As one of your constituents, I demand that you start putting the interest of American taxpayers above those of Anti-American regimes and radical jihadists overseas.”
The ad was vicious enough that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham crossed party lines to defend Manchin. “I’m sorry that my colleague Sen. Rand Paul felt that he needed to get involved and has gotten involved,” Graham said on a conference call with reporters. That comment drew a quick rebuke from Paul, who accused Graham of “supporting a Democrat in a general election.”
But there seems to be a pattern here: When Muslims come into the picture, Paul’s laissez-faire politics go out the window. Paul — whose championship of private-property rights has led him to oppose even the Americans With Disability Act — didn’t support the right of Muslims to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan near ground zero. Instead, he said Muslims should contribute the money that would have been used to build the mosque to the 9/11 victims’ memorial fund.
What’s more, Paul, who proposed legislation to curb what he saw as the TSA’s overly invasive powers to pat down fliers, admonished the agency last year for its unwillingness to profile people based on their background. In 2010, he reversed his stance on the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, going from opposing it to saying, “Foreign terrorists do not deserve the protections of our Constitution … These thugs should stand before military tribunals and be kept off American soil. I will always fight to keep Kentucky safe and that starts with cracking down on our enemies.”
In May of last year, Paul, who adamantly opposes the Patriot Act as a terrible violation of civil liberties, called for keeping tabs on foreign students from the Middle East. “Let’s say we have 100,000 exchange students from the Middle East — I want to know where they are, how long they’ve been here, if they’ve overstayed their welcome, whether they’re in school,” he said in a radio interview.
Even worse, in the same interview, the senator — who touts himself as a strong defender of free speech — called for imprisoning or deporting people who attend radical Islamic speeches. “It wouldn’t be that they are Islamic. But if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison,” Paul said.
Paul’s father was true enough to his libertarian ideals to stand up to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Muslim witch hunt. The son never did.
Michele Bachmann has been on a rather intense anti-Islam tear recently, fearmongering about Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the government. Recently, she’s touted the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya as proof of her conspiracy theories.
One group of Bachmann supporters, the National Republican Trust PAC, responded in stride, running an ad that attacks Bachmann opponent Jim Graves for calling her comments “outrageous.” The ad ties Graves’ comments to footage from the Middle East during the attack.
The NRTPAC got a little bit of attention in 2010 for running an ad that parroted pretty much every conservative talking point about Obama ever, tying him to everyone from ACORN to the New Black Panther Party.
This time around, though, Jim Graves got a little help. The Daily Kos selected the ad for a weekly feature that asks readers to help raise money for the targets of conservative attack ads, and wound up pulling in close to $8,000.
WASHINGTON — As many as 80 House Democrats are communists, according to Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.).
West warned constituents at a Tuesday town hall event that he’s “heard” that dozens of his Democratic colleagues in the House are members of the Communist Party, thePalm Beach Postreported. West wouldn’t elaborate beyond that, however, and didn’t offer up any names. There are currently 190 House Democrats.
A request for comment from West’s spokeswoman was not immediately returned.
During the same event, which took place at Jensen Beach, the freshman Republican said President Barack Obama wouldn’t have a public debate with him over their policy differences because he was “scared.” The president was in Florida on Tuesday giving remarks about the economy and holding campaign events.
“I really wish that, standing here before you, was Allen West and President Obama,” West said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “We could have a simple discussion. But that ain’t ever gonna happen.”
When an audience member asked why, West said in “a mocking voice” that it was because Obama “was too scared.”
WATCH West’s comments in the video above.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that West made the remarks at Florida Atlantic University. He made the statement at Jensen Beach.
WASHINGTON — Iranian-backed Hezbollah agents, not al Qaeda operatives, may pose the greatest threat on U.S. soil as tensions over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program ratchet up, according to the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
“As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran’s secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America,” said New York Rep. Peter King at a Wednesday hearing of his committee.
The hearing, which featured former government officials and the director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department, follows a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., and testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in late January that Iran’s leaders are “more willing to conduct an attack inside the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”
Opening the hearing, King said, “We have a duty to prepare for the worst,” warning there may be hundreds of Hezbollah operatives in the United States, including 84 Iranian diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington who, “it must be presumed, are intelligence officers.”
But Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said he was concerned that the testimony he was about to hear was based on outdated information and not current intelligence. He noted that “no current federal officials” were asked to testify on Wednesday.
“A word of caution is in order,” Thompson said. “When we examine our relationship with another country, we cannot look at any particular moment in time and pretend that it tells the whole story. We cannot view the politics, history and culture of any other country clearly by seeing a snapshot version.”
Referencing Clapper’s earlier testimony, Thompson said the director of national intelligence should be called in for a classified hearing, but added, “We should not engage in a public discussion that creates fear and delivers misinformation.”
King rejected the Democrat’s objections. “We’re not focusing on foreign policy,” he said. “We’re talking about an internal threat to this country.”
Most of the testimony — which came from former officials at the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Treasury, among others — concerned Iranian-linked attacks in other countries that dated back decades in some cases. However, Mitchell Silber, head of the NYPD intelligence unit that has come under fire for spying on the city’s Muslim community, said that between 2002 and 2010 his agency and federal authorities detected “at least six events involving Iranian diplomatic personnel that we struggle to categorize as anything other than hostile reconnaissance of New York City.”
The suspicious events, some of them publicly revealed for the first time, involved security guards at the Permanent Mission of Iran to the United Nations and Iranian diplomats stationed in New York. Among the cases Silber cited:
On Nov. 16, 2003, at 2 a.m., uniformed NYPD officers on a subway train observed two men filming the train tracks. The men, who initially claimed diplomatic immunity, were security guards at the Iranian Mission who had recently arrived in New York.
In May 2004, despite warnings from the State Department, two more Iranian Mission security guards were observed videotaping infrastructure, public transportation and New York City landmarks. A month later, the guards were expelled by the United States, Silber said, for “engaging in activities that were not consistent with their duties,” or spying.
In May 2005, six individuals “associated with the Government of Iran” were interviewed by the NYPD after a call to a city hot line reported suspicious behavior. The individuals on a sightseeing cruise were reportedly photographing and videotaping landmarks such as the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges as well as “reportedly speaking on their cellphones in an unusual manner.” One of the individuals worked at the Iranian Mission while the other five had diplomatic immunity based on their positions within the Iranian government. They were later released.
In September 2008, during the U.N. General Assembly, several members of the Iranian delegation were seen taking photos of railroad tracks inside Grand Central Station. After questioning, they were “released without incident.
In September 2010, again during the U.N. General Assembly, federal air marshals reported suspicious behavior at the Wall Street Heliport, where four people were seen taking “still photos and videotaping the water line and structural area of the heliport landing pad” from a nearby parking lot. The four produced press cards showing they worked for the Iran Broadcasting Co. and were released.
Although authorities could link none of the incidents to actual plots, “Iran has a proven record of using its official presence in a foreign city to coordinate attacks, which are then carried out by Hezbollah agents from abroad, often leveraging the local community — whether wittingly or not — as facilitators,” Silber testified.
Ask Barack Obama about his religious affiliation, and he’s a Christian. Ask Mississippi or Alabama voters, and you might find a different answer.
In the midst of tight GOP primaries in both states, Public Policy Polling (PPP) hasreleased information showing that a majority of voters in the Deep South do not see Obama as a Christian. PPP’s Alabama survey of 600 likely GOP primary voters found that only 14 percent placed the president under that religious designation, while 45 percent said he is a Muslim and 41 percent answered that they were not sure.
A similar picture emerged in Mississippi. Of 656 likely GOP primary voters surveyed, 12 percent said Obama was a Christian, 52 percent classified him as a Muslim, and 36 percent fell in the “not sure” category.
The survey emerges on the heels of a recent stream of public questioning regarding Obama’s religion. Back on Feb. 18, Rick Santorum took aim at the president’s beliefs, charging that his White House decisions are driven by a “different theology.”
“It’s not about your quality of life,” Santorum told supporters at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio. “It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible.”
Three days later, evangelist Franklin Graham joined the chorus, leaning toward the same opinion of those unsure Southern voters. Obama “has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is,” Graham said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama,” he said in a statement.
Religion rumors are nothing new for Obama. Back in August 2010, a poll showed that almost one-fifth of all Americans believed he is a Muslim. Obama responded in an interview with “NBC Nightly News” saying that “the facts are the facts” regarding his Christian faith.
Evangelist Franklin Graham called President Barack Obama’s religious views into question on Tuesday, stating that he does not know for sure if Obama is a Christian.
Graham, who is the son of Billy Graham and the CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that Obama “has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is.”
“All I know is I’m a sinner, and God has forgiven me of my sins… you have to ask every person,” he said about whether he could say for sure that Obama is indeed of the Christian faith.
However, when asked about GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s religion, Graham gave a much more concrete answer.
“I think so,” Graham said when asked if he believes Santorum is a Christian. “His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it… I think he’s a man of faith.”
MSNBC’s panelists questioned the reverend’s double standard, but Graham continued to draw distinctions between the candidates on the issue of faith. On Mitt Romney, Graham was again evasive, stating that “most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith.”
But Graham was more willing to label Newt Gingrich’s faith. “Newt’s been married several times… but he could make a good candidate,” Graham said. “I think Newt is a Christian. At least he told me he is.”
Later in the segment, Graham also said he could not be sure that Obama was not a Muslim.
“All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries,” he said.
He continued, ”Islam sees him as a son of Islam… I can’t say categorically that [Obama is not Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.”
Graham drew the criticism of the White House last spring when he suggested in an interview with ABC that Obama had not been born in the United States.
During that same interview, Graham also questioned whether Obama’s actions and values matched up with his identification as a Christian.
“Now he has told me that he is a Christian. But the debate comes, what is a Christian?” Graham said of Obama. “For him, going to church means he’s a Christian. For me, the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ and are following him in faith and we have trusted him as our lord and savior.”