I have a certain family member who subscribes to the “Obama’s a Muslim” school of paranoid and irrational conservative thinking. She knows — for a fact! — he’s a Muslim, because he wears a ring that says so. Well that’s a new one for me, so I asked for details. Apparently he wears a ring that has the phrase “There is no God but Allah” on it. Oh really. She no doubt picked this up from an email that had been forwarded by a thousand like-minded people before her.
So while on the phone I did a Google search on the words “obama muslim ring”…and lo and behold, a bunch of right-wing whackjob stories came up making this claim. How in the world did I miss this? In a nutshell, they have some grainy low-res photos of his ring and imagined that the squiggly lines on it is actually Arabic writing. Aha! PROOF he’s a stealth Muslim! Except, of course, he’s not being very stealthy about it…
These infantile scrawlings are the “proof.”
As usual a visit to Snopes.com shows us what’s really going on. Spoiler: it’s bullshit. As if there was any doubt.
Isolating the ring from a much higher-resolution photograph of President Obama’s hand taken by photographer Miguel Villagran during a 5 June 2009 news conference in Dresden, Germany, shows the ring to bear what looks like nothing more than a plain loop-like pattern, with the top section matching the bottom.
We shared the above picture with a small survey of six different persons with fluency in written Arabic, and all of them said the pattern displayed on the ring appeared to be an abstract one with no discernible meaning in Arabic.
Check out the story on Snopes to see a highly detailed photo of the ring in question. Yes, that is what all the fuss is about. A bunch of fucking loopy shapes.
So I read the entire Snopes article to her, and she basically tried to brush it off with a “Yeah, whatever.” Because nothing can sway paranoid (and dare I say racist) white conservatives from their Obama-hating opinions. Facts are irrelevant. Not to mention that the underlying Muslim=Evil idea is utter nonsense…
This is supremely disappointing to me because I know she’s not stupid–she just hates our black President and will believe anything that supports her irrational beliefs. Well, it’s a kind of stupidity, I suppose…a self-imposed ignorance and gullibility. A black hole of critical thinking. And this happens with millions of people around the country, especially of the Baby Boomer generation…they get emails making outrageous claims with photographic “proof” of something (or they simply watch the shitfest on Fox News), and they immediately believe it without a second thought because it hits a raw nerve with them. It happens everywhere: email, Facebook, conspiracy websites…wherever ridiculous ideas like this can spread. You can’t talk them out of it, either. Their hatred has been validated by a badly-written chain letter with shitty photos and that’s all there is to it.
When I hear this stuff I can’t help but think: the 2016 election can’t come soon enough!