Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The ‘43.75% Arab’ meme

Given the tornadic nature of Web rumors and “urban legends,” it’s often hard to nail down a starting point... an original source of bullshit information.

Not so in the matter of a nasty right-wing myth that Barack Obama is “43.75% Arab.”

That Internet meme started on February 14, 2008.

The man who started it is Kenneth E. Lamb. He’s an obscure conservative blogger, retired journalist, radio talk-show host, small-business owner, born-again Christian and civic activist in Pensacola, Fla.

Lamb posted on his blog a long, rambling email he’d sent to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen on February 11.

In that email, Lamb presents what he calls “the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb.” To wit:

“Researching [Obama’s] roots reveal that on his father’s side, he is descended from Arab slave traders.”

“Why is the fact that Mr. Obama is only 6.25% African Negro not reported?”

“... Mr. Obama is 50% Caucasian from his mother's side. He is 43.75% Arabic, and 6.25% African Negro from his father's side.”

“[N]o matter the racist presumption of seeing his skin and without question calling him black, the hard, cold, genetically inarguable reality remains: he is not an African-American.”

Kenneth Lamb provides no evidence for this “inarguable reality.” But he tells Richard Cohen: “I can get with your choice of researchers to have them document my documentation.”

When questioned by one of his own readers about his lack of evidence, Lamb responded: “We are working to prepare the information in a format that will not violate any contractual obligations about its use.”

He has never produced it.

So... based on this one blogger’s say-so – and nothing else – the meme that Barack Obama is “Arab” has spread far and wide in the conservative blogosphere. And it was pushed on nationwide radio this week by Rush Limbaugh.

I will email Kenneth Lamb tonight and ask him where his proof is.

UPDATE (09/24/08): It turns out Rush Limbaugh wasn’t the first to spread Kenneth Lamb’s horseshit on coast-to-coast radio.

Media Matters reported back in June that Monica Crowley (now a Fox News contributor) did likewise while guest-hosting “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

Here’s some of what Monica Crowley said on June 23:

“[A]ccording to this genealogy – and again, because I haven’t done the research, I can’t verify this – but according to this guy Kenneth Lamb, Barack Obama is not black African, he is Arab African.

“And yet, this guy is campaigning as black and painting anybody who dares to criticize him as a racist. I mean... it is the biggest con I think I’ve ever seen.”

These scoundrels. I can hardly believe it. Based on nothing, they spread this stuff!

26 comments:

Kellybelle said...

In that Israelis for Obama video, there's an Israeli who travelled to Kenya to interview Obama's family. The Israeli states clearly that Barack is not a muslim (not that that shoud matter) (but it does) (and that's sad). There's also a cheeky montage of Israelis saying "Hussein" like "So what, it's just a name."

I thought the muslim/arab thing was to scare Jewish voters, but I reading abt this guy, I guess they're going for those hard-working Scranton voters who fear arabs.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Who would've thought that anything could trump "Come on... he's black"?

bklyn6 said...

Come on now, everybody knows Arab is the new black.

Undercover Black Man said...

:^)

blackink said...

That guy would be from Florida. Blech.

But I'm still flummoxed by the precision of the estimate - 43.75 percent? Really? And, honestly, what does it even really mean?

bklyn6 said...

“And yet, this guy is campaigning as black and painting anybody who dares to criticize him as a racist. I mean... it is the biggest con I think I’ve ever seen.”

Okay. I'm ignorant. What is Crowley trying to say, exactly? That Obama is mascarading in black face so that he can play the race card? That he wouldn't be playing the race card if he was Arab?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Come on now, everybody knows that being black is the most advantageous thing you can be in America.

;^)

bklyn6 said...

^Hardy-har-har! :-D

odocoileus said...

Part of the reason the meme's gained some traction is that most white Americans, don't get multiracialness.

Normal, to them, is black (usually negative, but okay if they stay in their place, and they can do something for you) or white (okay to date, marry, and live next door to).

Birth of a Nation was really a monster movie. The mulattoes (uppity, aspiring to high political office, hmm?) were monsters because they were a hybrid between humans (white folks) and animals (black folks).

Planet of the Apes before Planet of the Apes.

Not that it matters all that much.

McCain's done lost his ever lovin mind.

Geneva Girl said...

I have written and erased this comment so many times because I can't control my language. I can physically feel my blood pressure rising when I read this junk. I can't wait for the election to be over because I'm afraid I might stroke out first. If we have a recount anywhere, I don't know how I'll survive.

My friends over here ask me to explain all of this and I just can't without feeling physically ill. They can't understand how these blatant lies and voter suppression can go unchecked - and neither can I. They argue back, "America is supposed to..." Then they tick off a list of our supposed democratic ideals. I just tell them, "Welcome to the real America."

BTW, I saw that Israeli pro-Obama video. So nice I got all misty.

petra said...

^Part of the reason the meme's gained some traction is that most white Americans, don't get multiracialness.

Normal, to them, is black (usually negative, but okay if they stay in their place, and they can do something for you) or white (okay to date, marry, and live next door to).

WTF.

this is SUCH bullshit. how can you say what "most whites" get and don't get? and then carry on with we want blacks to stay in your "place?" so we're all stupid and can't understand multiracialism? fact is, obama has never refereed to himself as biracial. but we get that he is. duh! and you know what? it doesn't matter.

you truly believe this crap? `xplain to be how obama is the nominee. you think it is solely based on votes by blacks?

thanks for the racism...and stereotyping.

petra said...

btw, i highly doubt that "multiracialness is an actual word.

odocoileus said...

Ah, Petra.

Love the fake indignation.

and you know what? it doesn't matter.

If you're claiming that it doesn't matter to most white people, you're dead wrong. It may not matter to you, I don't know.

Malcolm said...

the sad part is that prior to her becoming a tool for the radical right, Monica was actually a pretty good author.
.
Her book "Nixon in Winter" is one of the best Nixon books I have ever read.

petra said...

fake? hardly. fuck off.

notice you failed to address everything else i wrote.

it doesn't matter to me. i am working on his campaign.

the people it might matter to were never going to vote for him anyway.

you have no point.

MIB said...

This tragic, low-grade smear reminds me of an old joke about a mutt who attempts to infiltrate a dog show. When stopped by the show's organizers, he responds, "I'm 50% Pointer (he points), 50% Spitz (he spits), 50% Setter (swills a Guiness as he's an Irish Setter), but mostly I'm a Labrador Retriever".

One judge angrily shouts, "You're no Labrador Retriever", to which the mutt says, "Oh yeah? Go find a Labrador and I'll retrieve it".

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Merrie Melodies cartoon, right? I remember that dog.

Undercover Black Man said...

petra, you wouldn't happen to be Petra Haden, would you?

Anonymous said...

Big frickin' deal.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Indeed it is.

dez said...

btw, i highly doubt that "multiracialness is an actual word.

apparently it's been a word since 1923:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/multiracialism

the intarwebz are your friend.

dez said...

oops, apparently, they're not my friend (or rather, cutting & pasting links is not my friend, d'oh):

http://www.ask.com/web?q=multiracialness

petra said...

no, i am not.

you were going to email lamb. what did he say?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ He never did write me back. But I'm still hoping.

Anonymous said...

Is Kenneth Lamb the same as "Dr" Jack Wheeler? Because they both spew the same nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Obama's father (from pics) and family in Kenya look real "Arabic"... Insert roll eyes here.