Oh, the Beltway bobbleheads and wingnuts have their panties in a twist again over Obama's claiming the U.S. is "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world." (We rank around 35th out of 150 countries.) Okay, it's an exaggeration but not a fabrication. It's meant to show we have something in common. Empathy, remember?) Andrew Sullivan gets the difference:
I take the point, but I also see the deeper point Obama was making. America is not alien to Islam; many Muslims live here as proud and productive Americans. Saying that helps chip away at stereotypes about America that hurt us and empower Islamists.
That doesn't stop Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard from falling into a faux panic at Obama's use of the word "shukran" and pursuing yet another wingnut conspiracy theory:
Obama has said before that he speaks "barely passable Spanish" and "a smattering of Swahili," as well as some Bahasa from his youth in Indonesia. But Obama has at other times denied speaking a foreign language, saying in July of last year, "I don't speak a foreign language. It's embarrassing!" And even today, Michelle Obama is delivering the commencement address at Washington Math, Science, Technology Public Charter School, where Mark Knoller reports that she implored graduates to learn a language, and that both she and the president "regret they never learned another language."
It seems there is some legitimate confusion on just what languages Obama speaks, and as far as Arabic, the only real hint has came from Nick Kristof, who heard Obama recite the Muslim call to prayer in Arabic and with a "first-rate accent" back in 2007. With even the White House now smearing Obama as a Muslim, one wonders if the president hasn't been concealing some greater fluency with the language of the Koran.
For Pete's sake! Most politicians know how to say "Erin go bragh" and wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day, and yet we don't believe they're all Irish. I know how to pray in Latin - but I don't know how to speak it. And even I know how to say "Sukran" - I picked it up in some movie. I also know how to count to ten and can also say, "You are such a pig!" in Polish, but I don't know how to speak it.
Oh, and Michael? You do know what a putz is, right?
How desperate are these people, to be grasping at such very thin straws?