by Gabriel Bell · February 8, 2018
“He changed his name to Obama when he followed the Islam religion,” said the former soap star on “The View”
For inexplicable reasons, soap-opera bohunk Antonio Sabato Jr. is still a candidate in the primary for California’s 26th district. Almost equally as confounding was the interview he gave on the “The View” Thursday.
Sabato claimed that he had been “blacklisted” in Hollywood due to his conservative political beliefs and onstage speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention in favor of then-candidate Donald Trump.
He went on to note his Jewish and Czechoslovakian background, comparing the difficulties he faces securing roles in D-list movies to the travails of his ancestors. “My mother escaped the Russians and, yeah, my grandmother escaped the Holocaust and Auschwitz . . . and I was like, ‘it’s happening to me.’”
That was roughly 2 minutes into an 8-minute-and-30-second segment.
“The View” co-host Sunny Hostin asked if he felt his reputed blacklisting had anything to do with the interview he gave ABC News during the RNC in which he said that he believed then-president Barack Obama was secretly Muslim.
“No, I never thought it was anything bad,” Sabato said in response. “There’s millions of Muslims around the world, so I felt that it was never an insult.” He added, “I’m Jewish, I became a Christian, and I felt that Obama — I mean — if he’s not a Muslim, we should call him ‘President Barry.’” It was now 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the interview, though it felt much longer.
As if it needs to be said, the former president is not Muslim, having been raised a practicing Christian. The ongoing conspiracy theory that he is Muslim is tied less to any actual evidence of his religious leanings — indeed, it runs against observable reality — and more to racist, Islam0phobic, xenophobic ideas about blackness, Africa and the religion itself.
Attendant to the idea that Obama is a Muslim is the belief that he, like all Muslims, is attempting to destroy America from within and install an Islamic state. Many still believe this. Some point his father’s background and Obama’s reported time in a Madrassa as evidence. Barack Obama Sr. converted to Anglicanism early in life, only to become an atheist later. Barack Obama Jr. spent ages six to 10 in the Muslim-majority nation of Indonesia, splitting his education between a Catholic school and a non-denominational public school. The rest of his education is American and non-sectarian.
When the hosts of “The View” told Sabato that the former president wasn’t, in fact, Muslim, the candidate said, “Well, maybe it was my mistake then, or whatever.” He added, “I never meant, I never meant, you know, I like the president, I liked him as a person, his family, they’re good people, so, for me, it was never an insult like that.”
“So, you understand he’s not Muslim?” Hostin asked. “Okay, then he’s not,” said Sabato. Pressed again for a clear answer he said, “What I was saying was . . . he changed his name to Obama when he followed the Islam religion when he was growing up, so I felt that once you’re in that religion, you stay for the rest of your life.” It was now just over 3 minutes into the interview.
When reminded again that there was no evidence of any of that — because there really isn’t — Sabato said, “Okay, that’s fine, that’s fine. Listen, right now we have issues that are different than what we had in the past.”
There were roughly 5 minutes and 10 seconds left in the interview and there are roughly 117 days until the Republican primary in California.