Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, you've probably seen the picture of Obama donning local Somali elder's garb on a trip he made to the region a few years ago. Some seem to think that the picture is a convenient hook on which to hang the ubiquitous "Obama = Muslim" conflations. Guess it had to happen eventually.
Please also note the picture of Hillary and Chelsea wearing local Chinese garb, which (by the same tortured logic) gives away the fact that they are obviously committed communists(!).
You've probably also heard the Clinton camp's denials of the idea that the photo's release (and its timing, in particular, during the week before Clinton's latest "firewall" states of TX and OH) was intended as a smear.
Yusuf Garaad Omar, head of the BBC's Somali Service, explains the meaning of the robes:
These are the normal clothes that nomadic people wear.
The head turban is especially used by elderly people as a suggestion of respect. It is something that has no meaning whatsoever in Somalia culture.
If you see someone dressed like that in Somalia, you think it is a nomadic person - that is all. There is no religious significance to it whatsoever. It is mainly the nomadic people who use it. Some of them are religious, some are not. It is simply a tradition of the place where they are from. In this particular place, Wajir in north-east Kenya, the community is
majority ethnic Somali.
They have a council for Peace and Development, and when they get delegates they dress them as a nomadic person.
Whether it was originally intended as a smear or not, Mike Lupica said recently that the Clintons are starting to make Rove and Bush look like "the JV team" when it comes to disingenuousness. That picture of Sen. Obama, by the way, was not taking on a feel-good sight-seeing trip, but rather a mission to help facilitate aid to African flood victims.
Then there was the appearance of a Clinton surrogate on this morning's "Morning Joe", asking what is wrong, after all, with Obama wearing the "clothing of his country"? Ms. Tubbs Jones is seemingly attempting to perpetuate the largest smear on Obama yet...not misconstruing his record; not misconstruing his religious affiliation; but insinuating that he is not even an American. She repeats the phrase several times, using slightly different words. The intention is clear: it's another Clinton drive-by smear.
UPDATE, 2/28/08: According to Reuters, it seems that some of the folks in Somalia would like an apology for the way their culture has been turned into a political football. Can you blame them?
Please be sure to let Tennessee GOP communications director Bill Hobbs know that his inflammatory rhetoric is dangerous, inappropriate, and likely to increase anti-American sentiment.
You might also consider thanking Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for speaking out against the TN GOP yesterday.
Ask Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), and Rep. David Davis (R-TN) to reject and denounce the inflammatory rhetoric of the GOP on this issue.
Please contact Morning Joe with your opinions about this kind of coverage (the form is at the bottom of the page).
Better yet, anyone who actually has cable (I don't), please watch Morning Joe and record which companies are sponsors. Please leave a comment here or email me if you're able to come up with this info.
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