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Obama rally inclusive -- except for 2 Muslim women in scarves

Once presidential candidates were always placed on podiums, above the crowds, on balconies or the backs of trains speaking down to the voters from on high.

In the last few presidential election cycles, however, populism became the theme. It's been the stage fashion to plop the candidate amid adoring throngs. All campaigns now line the back of rally stages with handpicked, politically correct supporters who represent the message of the day -- young college students, old white women, a rainbow array of ethnicities. The president does it too, lots of soldiers behind him, men, women, black, white, Latino.

These are the happy, adoring, enthusiastic supporters who will be on camera with the candidate for presumably millions of Americans to see and identify with. The others in the front audience are there to yell and scream and wave signs.

The candidate's advance team and its volunteers are charged with arranging this human facial bouquet before the event. There are risks, of course. Young children easily get bored and fidgety and sometimes pick their noses on camera.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama surrounded by supporters in Pennsylvania

Others may yawn or fall asleep and provide evil news photographers with an inadvertent comment on the candidate's remarks that will appear all over the country as quickly as you can say, "Hot dog, not another candidate holding a microphone photo!"

Trouble is, apparently a Barack Obama volunteer or two in Detroit on Monday barred two Muslim women from standing behind Obama because they were wearing head-scarves. Everyone knows how hard the Obama forces have fought viral rumors that with the middle name Hussein and a childhood in Indonesia he is really a closet Muslim plotting to subvert the United States of America.

So the volunteer, described as a black woman in a green shirt, barred the women from the stage.

Our colleague over at the Swamp, Katie Fretland, has this version of the embarrassing episode. And the has a longer one here.

She explained, according to the women, by citing the political climate and widespread antipathy toward Muslims. It's particularly awkward for the Obama campaign, which talks often about its inclusiveness and the fact that Michigan is a major center of American Arabs.

The campaign apologized. "“This is of course not the policy of the campaign," said Bill Burton. "It is offensive and counter to Obama’s commitment to bring Americans together."

But at least one of the women has indicated that an apology is insufficient. She wants an invitation to stand right behind Obama at another rally.

Watch for that. And watch for Obama then to walk over and personally apologize. Turn a minus into a plus.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: The Daily Pennsylvanian

Comments () | Archives (7)

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This is the new message of hope and change. This guy is a fake and all this glitter and sparkle is just a show. Well, what else is just a show? Who is Barack Obama? He has no record from State Senate. He has no experience in US Senate. And it is obvious that what we do know about him has been just a stage set up by campaign personnel. To get out of this one he will "need more white people".

I'm a Muslim and I am offended by this action. Don't the volunteers know that there are more Muslims in the US than many other religious denominations? I wonder if such a move would shift those Muslims from voting for him in the elections. If he is to recover, he should ensure that those very two Muslim women are invited to meet him personally. It would otherwise enforce the message that what the volunteers did was right.

Offensive. I hope this woman sees Obama for what he is: a wolf in sheep's clothing.

This is really sad... I wonder since it was two separate campaign workers that denied the two Muslim women from being photographed or seen with Barack Obama. I wonder If there was a circling "Muslim memo" "Hey make sure that absolutely no Muslims get on camera here for the Obama Al speech, it's far to important."

It's really sad that people are being denied photo & telivision opps just because of their religion or how they dress. It's not ethically & morally right.

Most of all Obama's supporters think it is alright just to categorize people into intelligence, race, gender, and religious categories it splits the votes & voters up well for them…

Dmitriy | June 18, 2008 at 08:16 PM said "He has no record from State Senate. He has no experience in US Senate." I have not looked at any candidates voting records at state level, but I checked out the ones that showed promise. I was quite impressed with Obama's US Senate work. People like you, say stuff, without offering any proof of your statements.

As for the head scarves, it is regrettable that the Bush clan has made Muslim hatred socially acceptable and that Obama has to prove he is Christian as if there is something wrong with being a Muslim. The citizen who was doing a job made a judgment call. It is understandable why she choose to exclude the ladies.

With Obama being verbally assaulted daily and people still getting a blog at his site to yell: WAKE UP!!! HIS MIDDLE NAME IS HUSSEIN!!!!, the volunteer did what she thought she had to do to protect Senator Obama from more slander and ugly, false gossip.

Still waiting for the LA Times to report on the Bill Clinton fraud trial. Easy access for Los Angeles reporters to the LA Court house.

The citizen made a choice based on 16 months of the media, Clintons and McCain's campaigns feeding on Muslim hatred. Sad people will blame Obama for her call. Who ever heard of primary campaign candidates being forced to prove they are US citizens and enduring all kinds of gossip: What doe he have to hide? forcing him Obama to publish his birth certificate? The ladies that were denied a seat on the podium need to get over it.

"Who ever heard of primary campaign candidates being forced to prove they are US citizens and enduring all kinds of gossip" - I have but those two things are synonymous with running for President.

You must be a natural born US citizen to become President, hence the need to prove your citizenship. Not to mention, candidates must prove this with their message to the public and their general comments. IMHO, anyone running for President should be PROUD of the country they are hoping to run.

Secondly, slander/gossip has been in politics since there has been politics. I am so sick and tired of people complaining that "the gossip" isn't true, blah blah happens to all candidates in all levels of politics. If they don't want the heat, they need to get out of the kitchen.

I find this action extremely rude towards the Muslim American community. For those placing blame on the volunteers, just remember these are the type of people supporting him. Obama needs to apologize for the actions of his volunteers as they are supposed to be a reflection of him.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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