Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Head Scarf Affair

Barack Obama's presidential campaign has caused a stink with a few folks in the Muslim community in Detroit because a couple of underlings denied two Muslim women wearing headscarves a chance to sit in front of Barack Obama at a rally there:

At a rally for Senator Barack Obama in Detroit on Monday, two Muslim women said they were prohibited from sitting behind the candidate because they were wearing head scarves and campaign volunteers did not want them to appear with him in news photographs or live television coverage.

The Obama campaign said it quickly called the women to apologize after
learning of the incident. “It doesn’t reflect the orientation of the campaign,”
said Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama. “I do not believe that mistake
will be made again.”

The apology is apparently not enough for the two ladies who were offended by the campaign's actions:

Hebba Aref said she appreciated the apology but wanted an invitation to sit
behind the podium at a future event. '

While one can understand why these ladies would be offended, at this point I'd be willing to take a guess that they are going to have to be happy with a simple apology, or simply not be made happy at all. All through the primaries, Barack Obama had to deal first with rumors that he is secretly a Muslim, then after those rumors died down, the comments of his former pastor made it appear as though he sympathizes with terrorists. His very name leads some to believe, however falsely or exaggerated, that he has an affinity with the Muslim world that makes people in Middle America extremely uncomfortable.

Barack Obama and his entire campaign team know that he will have to deal with that image, and that it will dog him constantly between now and November. In no way can his public events be seen to make him overly sympathetic to Islam, or make it appear that he has droves of Muslim supporters. Barack Obama knows this, and so does his entire staff right down to the lowliest volunteer.

It is an extremely harsh political reality-but reality is what the Obama camp is now beginning to wrestle with.

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