Category Errors

There is an impressive collection of Islamophobia on display from voters in West Virginia. (H/t: Jamelle).

“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides.

As the poster notes, that’s completely incoherent.

I’m beginning to think that the problem is not ordinary stupidity, but that people have no freaking clue what a Muslim is.  It’s a daring proposition, but thanks to Kieran Healy (via twitter =P), we find that 9% of people who heard a lot about Rev Wright thought that Obama was a Muslim–no statistically significant difference from people who’d heard a little or nothing about Wright.  Interestingly, a third of people who believe that Obama is a Muslim think they’d vote for him.

I’m not sure that at a basic level, everyone fully grasps that being a Christian and being a Muslim are mutually incompatible religious outlooks, or really have an especially good idea of what a Muslim is.  Hell, I think you’d find a lot of people who you could stump by quick “noting that Muslims think Jesus is a prophet” jiujitsu.  Do you think those people have a good grasp on the distinction between prophet and Messiah?

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One response to “Category Errors

  1. I think you’re probably right; I have a feeling that most people who say “Obama is a Muslim” really mean “Obama is an Arab.” They seem to conflate the two, which itself is a product of the past seven years of so, where everyone – from the government to the media – has conflated Arab with Muslim.