RUSH: A fascinating story just cleared the wires at Politico.com: ‘Two Muslim women at Barack Obama’s rally in Detroit Monday night,’ where Algore came out with that silly endorsement speech, ‘two Muslim women at Obama’s rally in Detroit were barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent the women’s headscarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate. The campaign has apologized to the women, both Obama supporters, who said they felt betrayed by their treatment at the rally.’ Bill Burton, Obama spokesman, said, ‘This is of course not the policy of the campaign.’ Of course not, Bill. No, it can’t possibly be the policy of the campaign. You just have some renegade volunteers running around telling women wearing burqas, ‘Not on this shot, you’re not going to be sitting behind us, babe.’ It’s just a couple of freelancers running around doing this, eh, Bill? No, of course not. It’s not the policy of the campaign. Burton then continued by saying, ‘It is offensive and counter to Obama’s commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run.’
This is like somebody who gets caught committing some sort of crime or a DUI or something, a celebrity, ‘This is not the me that I know.’ I don’t think McCain would have done this. All campaigns do this. The Obama campaign, during the heat of the primaries, made sure there were lots and lots and lots of mostly white people sitting behind him in the TV camera shot, and that’s been established. I just love this. This of course is not the policy of the campaign. (laughing) No, we’re not running the show. We just showed up to get the Gore endorsement and lo and behold, here are these people running around, you know, putting together, decorating our crowd. No, no, no, nothing to do with us. ‘Building a human backdrop to a political candidate, a set of faces to appear on television and in photographs, is always a delicate exercise in demographics and political correctness. Advance staffers typically pick supporters out of a crowd to reflect the candidate’s message.
‘When Obama won North Carolina amid questions about his ability to connect with white voters, for instance, he stood in front of a group of middle-aged white women waving small American flags. On the Republican side, a Hispanic New Hampshire Democrat, Roberto Fuentes, told Politico that he was recently asked, and declined, to contribute to the ‘diversity’ of the crowd behind Sen. John McCain at a Nashua event. But for Obama, the old-fashioned image-making contrasts with his promise to transcend identity politics and to embrace all elements of America. The incidents in Michigan, which has one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in the country, also raise an aspect of his campaign that sometimes rubs Muslims the wrong way: The candidate has vigorously denied a false, viral rumor that he himself is Muslim. But the denials seem to some at times to imply that there is something wrong with the faith, though Obama occasionally adds that he means no disrespect to Islam.’ Of course not. (doing Obama imitation) ‘I’m not a Muslim, don’t you dare accuse me of being one, not that there’s anything wrong with being a Muslim. I mean, I respect Islam.’ And of course this is the kind of stuff the Drive-Bys handle with, ‘Isn’t he wonderful the way he handles this? He really is unique. He’s the messiah.’
One of the women that was denied the opportunity to sit behind Obama wearing the burqa, Hebba Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer who lives in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, said, ‘I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change, who I could really relate to. The message that I thought was delivered to us was that they do not want him associated with Muslims or Muslim supporters.’ In Detroit Monday, ‘the two different Obama volunteers in separate incidents –‘ of course the campaign, nothing to do with this, not the policy of the campaign, two instances here ‘made it clear that headscarves wouldn’t be in the picture. The volunteers gave different explanations for excluding the hijabs, one bluntly political and the other less clear. In Aref’s case, there was no ambiguity. That incident began when the volunteer asked Aref’s friend Ali Koussan and two other friends, Aref’s brother Sharif and another young lawyer, Brandon Edward Miller, whether they would like to sit behind the stage. The three young men said they would, but mentioned they were with friends.
‘The men said the volunteer, a twenty-something African-American woman in a green shirt, asked if their friends looked and were dressed like the young men, who were all light-skinned and wearing suits. Miller said yes, but mentioned that one of their friends was wearing a headscarf with her suit. The volunteer ‘explained to me that because of the political climate and what’s going on in the world and what’s going on with Muslim Americans, it’s not good for [Aref] to be seen on TV or associated with Obama,’ said Koussan, who is a law student at Wayne State University. Both Koussan and Miller said they specifically recalled the volunteer citing the ‘political climate’ in telling them they couldn’t sit behind Obama. ‘I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Are you serious?” Koussan recalled. Shimaa Abdelfadeel’s story was different.
‘She’d waited on line outside the Joe Louis Arena for three hours in the sun and was walking through the giant hall when a volunteer approached two of her non-Muslim friends, a few steps ahead of her, and asked if they’d like to sit in ‘special seating’ behind the stage, said one friend, Brittany Marino, who, like Abdelfadeel, is a recent University of Michigan graduate who works for the university. When they said they were with Abdelfadeel, the volunteer told them their friend would have to take the headscarf off or stay out of the special section, Marino said. They declined the seats. After recovering from the shock of the incident, Abdelfadeel went to look for the volunteer and confronted her minutes later, she said in an e-mail interview with Politico. ‘We’re not letting anyone with anything on their heads like baseball [caps] or scarves sit behind the stage,’ she paraphrased the volunteer as saying, an account Marino confirmed. ‘It has nothing to do with your religion!”
The campaign, of course, said, this is not the policy of our campaign. ‘Photographs of the event also show men with hats in the section behind Obama and former Vice President Al Gore, though not directly behind the candidate.’ So they were letting people wear hats, they were letting guys sit back there, but no Muslim women with the head scarves. And, of course, this is the man of enlightenment, the messiah, the man of change, the man of unity; the man who is going to bring us an America that’s enlightened and unlike any that we have ever witnessed nor seen before.