Hat-tip to Media Matters for reporting Limbaugh’s latest lie.
During his Monday broadcast, Rush told his listeners that Barack Obama is “not black. ... He’s Arab. You know, he’s from Africa, he’s from Arab parts of Africa.”
Click here to hear it with your own ears on my Vox blog.
The truth, of course, is that Obama’s father – Barack Obama, Sr. – belonged to the Luo tribe, one of seven major black ethnic groups in Kenya. And Kenya is not an “Arab part of Africa.” Less than 1 percent of the Kenyan population is Arab.
But wait, there’s more!
Another liberal site, Think Progress, caught Limbaugh doubling down on that lie today.
Rush read from a Philadelphia Daily News article that says, in part: “Obama’s name and his African heritage are obstacles to the party’s chances of capturing the White House, party activists are finding.”
That’s not how Limbaugh read it, though. Limbaugh actually said – swear to God – that “Obama’s name and his Arab-African heritage are obstacles to the party’s chances...” (Click here to listen.)
So what’s Limbaugh’s hustle here?
He is feeding into a rumor/smear campaign/Internet meme that’s been out there for months.
Back in February, a right-wing blogger who uses the pseudonym “John Trenchard” quoted this from another conservative blog:
“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.”
“If true,” wrote Trenchard, “this could well be the nuclear bomb that destroys his candidacy.”
That “43.75%” figure is oddly specific. It’s also easily Googlable. So let’s see who else has been spreading it around.
Linda Cowan, on a popular website called The Conservative Voice, headlined her July 23 column: “Obama, a 43.75% Arab-American.”
She followed that up the next day with a piece called “Arab Obama and his Arab Friends.”
(The Conservative Voice was founded by Nathan Tabor, who worked on Duncan Hunter’s Republican campaign for president this year... and whom Jerry Falwell once called the “young Jesse Helms.”)
On June 9, a New York lawyer and online essayist named Michael J. Gaynor wrote a piece for WEBCommentary.com titled “Obama, Pride of Arab-Americans?”
“I have not found references to Obama’s Arab heritage in the mainstream media,” he wrote, “but one Internet poster reported this:
“ ‘Senator Obama will be the first Arab American president if he is elected. The Senator’s background is: Caucasian from his mother [and] Arab African from his father. Before all the Obamiacs jump on the answer, the Kenyan Obamas are listed in the Kenyan census as Arab African not as Tribal ‘Black’ African. His father’s great great grandmother was a Tribal African.
“ ‘Therefore by ethnic lines the Senator is 50% Caucasian, 43.75% Arab, and 6.25% Black African (from where the Senator gets his skin pigmentation). ...’ ”
On Wednesday, I’ll tell you about the guy who started this “43.75%” business.