Here's a collection on the subject of the Washington Times/Fox News/Insight Magazine pieces that deliberately and inaccurately smeared Senator - and likely Dem presidential candidate - Barack Obama:
From Glenn Greenwald:
Something odd occurred this week: Fox News -- spewing filth churned out by the lowest depths of right-wing innuendo swamps -- was "reporting" the two-pronged falsehood that Barak Obama attended a "madrassa" as a child and that it was Hillary Clinton's campaign which maliciously disclosed that story. There is, of course, nothing at all odd about any of that.From Juan Cole:
But in response, the national media -- rather than merely passing those accusations along -- decided instead to subject them to critical scrutiny, investigate the claimed basis for the accusations, found that there was no basis, and then reported that the story was completely unfounded. Or, to put it another way, they fulfilled their most basic and defining function as "journalists" by investigating, rather than reciting, other people's claims.
The rightwing smear campaign against Barack Obama, waged by a magazine funded by the far rightwing Korean businessman and part-time messiah, the Reverend Moon, has foundered on CNN's good reporting. The allegation was that he had gone to a radical "Saudi-funded" madrasah. Wolf Blitzer had the professionalism to send out an experienced reporter to the school that Obama attended when he was 6 years old in Indonesia. He found it just an ordinary modern school with boys and girls and both male and female teachers, which taught modern subjects.
The smear campaign would be hilarious if it weren't so satanic.
First of all, let's explain about the word madrasah. In Semitic languages like Arabic and Hebrew, words are mostly made up of three-letter roots. In Indo-European languages, words tend to have two-letter roots. In roots, you don't count short vowels. So in Arabic, the root for to learn (as in school learning) is d* r *s*. Arabic is an elegant, almost mathematical language. If you put those three-letter roots in certain "molds," it produces a linked vocabulary. Dars is a lesson. Darrasa with a doubling of the "r" is "to teach." You make a noun of place by putting an "m" in front and a soft "h" at the end. Thus, madrasah is the place where you study. Thus, madrasah means . . . school.
Now, there are lots of kinds of school, after all. But an ordinary elementary school attended by boys and girls and offering a modern curriculum would be called a madrasah in Arabic, i.e. a school. And this word has gone into lots of languages, especially ones spoken by Muslims, as a loan word.
[...]By the way, very few terrorists or suicide bombers have ever graduated from a seminary/ madrasah of `ulum. The lead hijackers on 9/11 had all gone to modern schools and Western universities. Relatively few seminary students or graduates in Pakistan even bothered to come out and demonstrate in fall of 2001 against the building US war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In places like Egypt, Muslim political activists tend to be engineers with a modern university education, whereas the clerics trained in seminaries/ madrasahs of `ulum are typically coopted by the regime and are relatively moderate. So not all Muslim seminaries are hotbeds of radicalism.
[...]The real question is why foreign billionaire cultists own so much of America's media. Lou Dobbs, who is so concerned about illegal immigration, should leave the poor alone long enough to look into the rich and influential, rightwing aliens. This smear was brought to us by the media owned by the Reverend Moon (who did jail time for tax evasion) and by Rupert Murdoch (which picked it up shamelessly). Americans will never get back their purloined liberty until they stop letting the super-rich tell them what to think.