by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

Allahpundit, along with many other commentators, seem to assume that everyone who calls Obama a Muslim is a conspiracy theorist. That isn't necessarily the case. From talking to and listening to various people who make this assertion, I've gotten the distinct impression that at least some of them know perfectly well Obama isn't a Muslim in a literal sense; they're just using the word as an insult, to express their hatred of him. I've had the experience of telling someone Obama is a practicing Christian, not a Muslim, and the person would then retort, "Well, he's got connections to radical Muslims" or "He's appeasing the Muslims," as if either of those things have some relationship with actually being a Muslim.

Now, there definitely are people who believe (or at least claim to believe) that Obama is literally a secret Muslim. But this recent poll doesn't prove that a fifth of Americans truly hold this belief. All it proves is that they are willing to call him a Muslim. Probably most of those people are speaking from contempt, not ignorance, and at least some of them may simply be trying to say they dislike Obama. I think some anti-Semites use the word "Jew" in this way, applying it to people they think are too "soft" on Jewish issues or "in bed" with Jews. In both cases, they're refusing to accept that the label constitutes simple religious or ethnic identification, and treat it instead as just a general slur for anyone they think resembles or is somehow close to the group in question.

Perhaps in the same way people use "gay" as a catch-all criticism.

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