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(Marie Lambert)– The months leading up to a general election always seem to bring out the best in people (and by best, I mean worst). I’d like to think that at a certain point in the process, everyone calms down, looks at the ridiculous things that are being said on both sides, and decides to be reasonable. After all, you can buy Barack Obama birth certificate mugs now, so I think we’ve cleared this one one up at least.
But then this had to happen. Country music singer Hank Williams Jr. was playing a concert at the Iowa State Fair when he decided to share some of his political beliefs with listeners. After finishing the song “We Don’t Apologize for America,” he declared to the enthusiastic crowd:
We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the US and we hate him!
Above and separate from my political beliefs, I am a big believer in facts. I like citations, footnotes, and background information for any and all claims. So in the most non-partisan way possible, I’d like to respond to Mr. Williams Jr.’s comments. I am offended by the fallaciousness of his statements simply as someone who strives for clarity and reason in all debates. I don’t think Hank Williams Jr. is intentionally lying, but that is simply misinformed, and believes his statements about President Obama to be true. Maybe he is using hyperbole for its rhetoric effects. But laying them out the way he did, Hank Williams Jr.’s claims are disingenuous and just untrue.
1. President Obama is not a Muslim: Yes, his father was a Muslim. Yes, he attended a public school in Indonesia with Muslim (and Christian) students for two years. Yes, his middle name (Hussein) is Arabic. These are not sufficient qualifications to make a person a Muslim. Ignoring the fact that President Obama has stated that he is a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ on numerous occasions, let’s suppose he is a secret Muslim. Well, then he’s probably the world’s most non-observant secret Muslim, because he is very obviously not following two out of the five pillars of Islam: prayer five times a day, and fasting during Ramadan.
2. Does President Obama really hate farming?: If he does, he somehow still cares about those who do it, since he has a whole page on his website dedicated to them. Additionally, not only has Obama endorsed the Senate’s latest draft of the newest farm bill, which would help beginning farmers with loans and start-up costs, increase rural small business development, and reduce costly subsidies for farmers, but has announced the government will buy $170 million worth of meat from farmers struggling because of this summer’s drought.
3. As for the President’s views on the military, maybe he hates the idea that we lose hundreds of American lives in combat each year through the military (not to mention the suicide rate of one death a day). But he sure doesn’t seem to hate our troops themselves, since he passed bills helping them find jobs, homes, and education.
4. President Obama must obviously hate America, that’s why he swore to protect and defend our Constitution (sorry, can’t hold back the sarcasm now). Seriously, even Sarah Palin didn’t contest this point.
5. “and we hate him”: now, this has a ring of truth to it. You, Hank Williams Jr., do in fact seem to hate the President, for whatever reasons (please don’t state the previous four on this list). And I’m sure that many people in the crowd at your concert that night hate him as well—maybe they have their own, better-articulated reasons, and maybe they just need someone to hate. But the broader, more general sense of the “we” to which you refer? I can only hope that we can have the presence of mind not to dole out our hate quite so lightly and generously.
Cover photo credit: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/juice/content/hank-williams-jr-rips-president-obama-during-iowa-concert