Not that there’s anything wrong with that

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, you will have heard about the ways in which it is being implied that Obama is either an Arab, or a terrorist, or both (because, what’s the difference really?).

To the right is a billboard from the swing state of Missouri. It appears to be a spontaneous emission of racism by somebody local, rather than a calculated political gesture associated with a campaign, but in many ways that makes it scarier to me.

The tenor of the race has changed, and gotten nastier. Back in February, McCain clearly dissassociated himself from a speaker at a rally who kept referring to Obama as “Barack Hussein Obama” and the campaign followed suit. However, in the last month Obama’s middle name has cropped up more and more often at rallies, including one where ” a Florida sheriff ranted about “Barack Hussein Obama” at a Palin rally while in full uniform.” [NYT]

This even arose recently at a McCain rally where McCain’s response was quite revealing:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not — he’s an Arab. He is not…No?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. And that’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not. Thank you. [HuffPo]

Ideally, I would have liked McCain to have said three things in his answer:

  1. Obama is a decent man with whom I have major policy disagreements
  2. He is an American who is not of Arabic origin or a muslim
  3. Not that there would be anything wrong with him being either Arab or Muslim

Neither campaign has managed to make that last point, and it’s a very important one.

McCain did not say that Arabs are decent people, instead we are left to infer that “Arabs” and “decent, family man” are somehow antonyms. Barack Obama should not be let off the hook either as he is just as complicit. Earlier when his Democrat primary opponents were trying to smear him, he distanced himself from being Arab and Muslim (which of course he is not!), but did not stop that conversation and say Arabs and Muslims are just as American as anyone else. [Link]

This is the same point that came up after 9/11 for Sikhs. We wanted to clarify who we were, but we wanted to do so without demonizing anybody else:

There were many that immediately tried to disassociate themselves from Muslims and screamed, “We are not the enemy.” Of course, implicit in this was the argument that “Muslims are the enemy.” Then later as cooler minds prevailed, in an amazing moment which I still take great pride, Sikhs left behind such divisive discourse and changed their call to “We are all Americans.” [Link]

I am not a Muslim. I am not an Arab. Barack Obama is also neither of these things. But you know, if either of us was that should be OK too. That’s what it means to me to be American.

Related links: Two links about the woman at the McCain rally, a close up video of her remark, and an interview with her later where she explains her world view. From the lHuffPo: Is Muslim The New Queer? And Cambell Brown makes a similar argument.

p.s. You might be interested to know that one of the terrorist plots foiled by the FBI after 9/11 involved a plot to bomb the office of a (GOP) Arab-American Congressman and a large mosque. In this case the plot was quite advanced, it had been planned for some time and “federal agents waited until the last component of the bomb — explosive powder — had been delivered to make the arrests.” [Link] If it had gone through, close to 1,000 people might have died.

87 thoughts on “Not that there’s anything wrong with that

  1. Barack Obama should not be let off the hook either as he is just as complicit. Earlier when his Democrat primary opponents were trying to smear him, he distanced himself from being Arab and Muslim

    Weren’t some Muslim women in head scarves barred from sitting near the podium where they could possibly appear on camera at Obama’s rally not too long ago ?

  2. Neither campaign has managed to make that last point

    That’s not entirely correct. This is Obama on Larry King, on July 15th:

    KING: Considering that, though, there’s a lot of e-mails going around. It gets rather terrible. A “Newsweek” poll shows that 12 percent of America believes that you’re a Muslim, and 26 believe — 26 percent believe you were raised in a Muslim home. A lot of misinformation.
    How do you fight that?
    OBAMA: Well, you know, by getting on “Larry King” and telling everybody I’m a Christian and I wasn’t raised in a Muslim home. And pledge allegiance to the flag. And, you know, all the things that have been reported in these e-mails are completely untrue and have been debunked again and again and again. So, all you can do is just tell the truth and trust in the American people that over time, they’re going to know what the truth is.
    One last point I want to — I do want to make about these e-mails, though. And I think this has an impact on this “New Yorker” cover.
    You know, this is actually an insult against Muslim-Americans, something that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about. And sometimes I’ve been derelict in pointing that out.
    You know, there are wonderful Muslim-Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things. And for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate. And it’s not what America’s all about.

    I have also heard Obama say, on the stump during the primaries, something to the effect: “I have nothing against anyone else’s religion, I just don’t want people lying about mine. If I were muslim, I would tell you.”

    It is fair, however, to say — as Obama himself acknowledged — that the Obama campaign hasn’t been quite as diligent at making this point as some of us may have liked.

  3. 1 · Vikram said

    Barack Obama should not be let off the hook either as he is just as complicit. Earlier when his Democrat primary opponents were trying to smear him, he distanced himself from being Arab and Muslim
    Weren’t some Muslim women in head scarves barred from sitting near the podium where they could possibly appear on camera at Obama’s rally not too long ago ?

    that is true. it is also true it amounts to a hill of beans next to actions of ‘fervent’ McCain/Palin supporters, opening speakers and surrogates since that incident. These penny ante rejoinders remind me of the great orator, Sarah Palin, who warned those campaign-stop attendees who found it difficult to hear her (as any fool could have foreseen, given the layout of the Richmond International Raceway facilities), that they should be cognizant of the sacrifices of our men/women in uniform who fought for these Palin fans’ “right to protest”. This is a world in which “We can’t hear you!” is assumed to be the protests of “commie fags” from the local liberal arts college.

  4. But Obama really was between a rock and hard place with the Muslim accustaions. No politician gets anywhere without being a little politically expedient. There was no realistic alternative to enabling a little islamophobia on his part. Frankly, I’m more gobsmacked a man named Hussein Obama will take the White House than the whole race issue.

    Didn’t Elaine break up with a “Jeffey Dahlmer” one time.

  5. Manju said:

    I can’t help but gleefully point out that Hillary Clinton does not belive McCain crossed any line. Heh.

    But the story he linked to said:

    CLINTON: I think the McCain/Palin campaign has gotten quite negative in the last few days. It doesn’t do anybody a service.

    Which doesn’t quite fit Manju’s claim.

  6. According to Sully, the NYT/CBS poll will report a 14-point lead for That One, 53-39. Winning is the best revenge.

    True. But the collateral damage to those of us who aren’t “real Americans” from small towns in Alaska might last well past moose season. It’s not clear whether an Obama victory would re-open some of the doors that are being closed.

  7. 8 · Ennis said

    CLINTON: I think the McCain/Palin campaign has gotten quite negative in the last few days. It doesn’t do anybody a service. Which doesn’t quite fit Manju’s claim.

    Oh please, Ennis…Hillary’s praising McCain with faint damnation. The guy and his running mate are carooning recklessly close to an all out race war, unable or unwiling control their own crowds, and the worst she can say is he’s been “quite negative.”

    Now Obmam’s got to keep his cool, thats understood, but his subordinates are suppossed to go after him. Even the reporter caught it and kept giving her an opening to call out McCain and she went ahead and praised the guy (“Yeah, well, I think John McCain came out the other day and basically said, you know, “Let’s, let’s calm down, let’s stop this, and I appreciate him doing that, and that, that should be the tone of the campaign going forward.”)

  8. 8 · Ennis said

    Which doesn’t quite fit Manju’s claim.

    What a surprise!!!

    Since the primary season, Hillary has been saying and doing the right things. Even in this interview, she knocked the campaign – naming both McCain and Palin, but said that McCain was right to have called for it to stop (whatever you or she might personally believe about McCain’s motives or his control over his campaign). Which is exactly what Obama has been saying, and it would have been silly to start a pissing match calling McCain dishonorable, something that the Obama campaign has been very careful not to do.

    But the collateral damage to those of us who aren’t “real Americans” from small towns in Alaska might last well past moose season.

    It is really amazing a party that has consistently favored the wealthy has historically found it a winning proposition to stir up a noxious soup of class warfare, anti-immigrant sentiment, bigotry, and racism. Self respecting conservatives should be ashamed of the malevolent beast that this Republican party has become. Intellectual economic conservatism is far more respectable than that, and deserves better. And I say this as somebody who believes that there is a role for government in promoting social welfare, and is relatively left-leaning (in the US political context), but would like to see a far better quality of debate between these schools of thought.

  9. i was joking with a friend of mine who is half-arab and looks “white” until people find out his name that if that b. hussein obama becomes president no one better ever fucking act like i have a weird exotic name. i mean, i’d say, “come on, the president of the USofA has the middle name HUSSEIN beeyatch, who’s the freak now?” as for racism, it sucks, but this is a half empty half full thing. a mixed race dude with a foreign dad raised by a single mom who spent years abroad with the name b. hussein obama is likely going to be the president of the united states. damn! yes, it is showing the ugly side of american racism, but 1.5 generations ago we had apartheid in much of this country. what a country.

    btw, i put up kind of a pedantic post about why no shiz obama ain’t an arab (probably). ‘tarded that it warrants a post, but we live in crazy times.

  10. I wrote a letter to the Obama campaign that they aren’t going to read about this issue. I understand the issue of political expediency, but it hurts all the same.

  11. I am not a Muslim. I am not an Arab. Barack Obama is also neither of these things. But you know, if either of us was that should be OK too. That’s what it means to me to be American.

    i think this needs to be explored a bit. should race and religion in a candidate matter? see my comment on talk islam. the short of it is that it ain’t a matter of should, people are more comfortable with people who are like themselves what that means varies from person to person. but obviously many people have greater comfort with those who share their worldviews, cultural outlook and beliefs (cough cough) on a personal level. on the one hand you can say, “well, the personal shouldn’t matter for the political.” but moot point. also, the arab vs. muslim thing is different. i think the USA we have a much higher bar of tolerance for discomfort based on beliefs (religion) than on less malleable identity issues (ethnicity, race). a lot of people say, “so what if he was a muslim?” just replace that with “so what if he was an evangelical christian?”* as for discomfort for him being an arab or black, that’s more visceral and i don’t think many people can offer as many cogent rationales.

    • the “do we want to have a mormon in the whitehouse?” question was mooted semi-openly when romney ran. some people on the left and right said that religion doesn’t matter, and we should leave the private affairs alone. but political/personal and private/public dichotomies are somewhat artificial. the fact that sarah palin spent part of her life as an identified pentecostal tells you something about her character. the fact that barack obama joined the most liberal mainline protestant denomination tells you something about his worlview.
  12. so what if he was an evangelical christian?

    He appeared to be one at the start of the election, and he’s certainly the most evangelical candidate in discourse since Jimmy Carter. He was still elected by the Democratic party, and embraced by a large number of liberals.

    In terms of “what if he was an Arab”, Arab-American candidates have successfully run for office at the state level in many states. Heck, Bush I had an Arab-American Chief of Staff from 1989-1991. Granted that was before 9/11, but there was still plenty of anti-Arab sentiment in that period. The difference is that the GOP then was not framing itself in xenophobic civilizational terms.

  13. Blurker unblurking here!

    This is from Obama’s website:

    The truth about Barack Obama’s faith

    Lie: Barack Obama is a Muslim.

    Truth: Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian. Further, this myth perpetuates unfortunate falsehoods about the Muslim-American community that are offensive to people of all faiths.

    http://my.barackobama.com/page/invite/christian

    Yes, its not quite as strong of a condemnation as I’d like to hear but its certainly not nothing either.

    Okay, I’m going back to blurking now.

  14. Thanks DTK and Mangamo for the excerpts from Obama. I was looking for where he had mentioned this. This has been a disturbing thing for me being an ardent supporter of Obama and to see him clearly articulating his position is heartening. thanks Ennis too, this is a point that needs to be made.

  15. yes, it is showing the ugly side of american racism, but 1.5 generations ago we had apartheid in much of this country. what a country.

    is there a non-ugly side to American racism?

    Secondly, to address your “only in America” comment, let’s not forget Winston Churchill’s famous (and to my knowledge, most accurate) assessment of America

    paraphrasing, “You can always count on America to do the right thing, after it’s exhausted all other possibilities”

    The flip side to this is, of course, the white liberal intellgentsia proudly wearing their Obama buttons to reiterate and prove to the world they aren’t racist. my black friends get at least 3 obama buttons shoved in their face each day. Anyway, I said it before, I’ll say it again. I’ll believe Obama’s election on Jan 20th. (or whenever the actual date is)

  16. He appeared to be one at the start of the election, and he’s certainly the most evangelical candidate in discourse since Jimmy Carter. He was still elected by the Democratic party, and embraced by a large number of liberals.

    first, black people get to be religious in the democratic party. black religiosity isn’t threatening to liberals because it isn’t wedded to a social conservative agenda which goes outside of the community. only white religious conservatives are scary. so that’s technically correct, but you know that’s not what i meant :-) also, the united church of christ is the most liberal mainline denomination theologically, and obama has come close to admitting agnosticism on supernatural questions (it’s right there in his books). if liberals actually believed that obama was a genuine evangelical or born again christian that just shows their lack of religious sophistication. abraham lincoln and george washington both used plenty of religious allusions and style but no one accept that they were religious conservatives.

    In terms of “what if he was an Arab”, Arab-American candidates have successfully run for office at the state level in many states. Heck, Bush I had an Arab-American Chief of Staff from 1989-1991. Granted that was before 9/11, but there was still plenty of anti-Arab sentiment in that period. The difference is that the GOP then was not framing itself in xenophobic civilizational terms.

    the senator from NH is the son of that chief of staff and an arab republican. the governor of indiana is also an arab republican. darrel issa, one of the most prominent california republicans (and the richest dude in the house i think) is also an arab republican. ralph nader is a perpetual arab candidate for president. also ray lahood from illinois is a republican. the arab thing is kind of fuzzy because most people are too stupid to know what arabs are. see the wikipedia list of politicians.

  17. He appeared to be one at the start of the election, and he’s certainly the most evangelical candidate in discourse since Jimmy Carter

    also, that’s not just true. bush = jesus is my favorite political philosopher because he changed by life?

  18. 22 · heromanyfaces said

    is there a non-ugly side to American racism?

    i think there is bipartisan agreement that sarah palin is pretty milfy…

    The flip side to this is, of course, the white liberal intellgentsia proudly wearing their Obama buttons to reiterate and prove to the world they aren’t racist.

    hmf, and you believe that this proves that they are racist…?

  19. and you believe that this proves that they are racist…?

    hey, give the man a break. he didn’t blame women in that comment, did he?

  20. 26 · razib said

    hey, give the man a break. he didn’t blame women in that comment, did he?

    actually, his handle implicates women also. it was misspelled. OP meant to call himself “hermanyfaces,” a pseudonym that captures the deceptive duplicity of women.

  21. “The flip side to this is, of course, the white liberal intellgentsia proudly wearing their Obama buttons to reiterate and prove to the world they aren’t racist.”

    A friend of mine has suggested that this election will allow ‘whites’ who have been accused of racism in the past a chance to openly say they are not racist…anymore?

    What do you think?

  22. It has been conclusively proven in the past that whites who say they won’t vote for Obama are racist. From this thread, I have learnt that those who say they will vote for Obama are racist. I guess it’s a good time to be in the undecided column.

  23. that one, there is the possibility that people do view Obama as a chance to ‘get over’ their past run-ins with racism, is there not?

  24. i think there is bipartisan agreement that sarah palin is pretty milfy…

    Please, I just ate breakfast. I would like it to stay down. Thanx.

  25. A friend of mine has suggested that this election will allow ‘whites’ who have been accused of racism in the past a chance to openly say they are not racist…anymore?

    Not so much to close their own past as to distance themselves from other people. (That is, the intended separation and distancing is more in space than in time). It gives Obama-voting-whites a good way to show that they are not the same as the whites-not-voting-for-Obama.

    There could be an age issue as well here. At work I see many people born in the early to mid 1960s who take great pains to separate themselves from baby-boomers. The attitude seems to be “If you talk to me about race relations through a Civil Rights lens, you will offend me. Only old people think like that. Don’t pester me with this baby boomer shit”. I can’t blame them for it – I suppose most GenXers feel about the 1960s race conflicts that same way that people under 30 think about the Cold War or that WW2 veterans feel about suffrage – “it’s some ancient crap that happened when I was a kid, and only geezers think that it is worth discussing in the context of how their lives changed because of it. My life never changed because of it – it is how the world was presented to me”.

  26. The billboard with the Obama caricature says that he’s in favor of same sex unions/marriages has some truth. However, portraying Obama as a Muslim/”Sandni**er” (a horribly disgusting term I despise), is a bit strange and completely false. Most Islamic countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia have outlawed homosexuality. So, the ignorant idiots who put that sign up should really pack up and move to Iran for good if they are truly scared of or hate gay people.

  27. 9 · Manju said

    Oh please, Ennis…Hillary’s praising McCain with faint damnation. The guy and his running mate are carooning recklessly close to an all out race war, unable or unwiling control their own crowds, and the worst she can say is he’s been “quite negative.” Now Obmam’s got to keep his cool, thats understood, but his subordinates are suppossed to go after him. Even the reporter caught it and kept giving her an opening to call out McCain and she went ahead and praised the guy (“Yeah, well, I think John McCain came out the other day and basically said, you know, “Let’s, let’s calm down, let’s stop this, and I appreciate him doing that, and that, that should be the tone of the campaign going forward.”)

    It’s three weeks before the elections, four months after the primaries, and you’re STILL obsessing over Hillary Clinton???

    If you know your history, then you’d know that by the standards of previous presidential elections, the Clintons have more for Obama than any other candidate who lost a tough and close primary battle. And by a lot. Almost immediately after the primaries ended, she suspended her campaign and gave Obama a ringing endorsement in her concession speech. Try comparing her speech to the one Ted Kennedy gave in 1980 after he lost. And in the middle of the N.Y. delagation, Clinton stood up in the middle of roll call and moved to nominate Obama by acclimation.

    McCain and Palin have gone negative, and as a result they’ve lost serious ground. Everybody can see that, and yes, that includes the Clintons. So, we need Hillary to go apeshit over their treatment of Obama… why, exactly?

    Me, I hope McCain/Palin continues with the attacks. It will only increase the percentage Obama wins by. Winning is the best revenge indeed.

  28. ennis,”Obama is a decent man with whom I have major policy disagreements He is an American who is not of Arabic origin or a muslim Not that there would be anything wrong with him being either Arab or Muslime”

    Ah, decency. Yes. And honorable. All, honoroable men.

    Reminds me of the exchange between Mae West and the coatcheck girl: Hat check girl exclaims, “Goodness, what lovely diamonds.” West crisply replies, “Goodness had nothing to do with it, deary.”

  29. 7 · Ennis said

    Manju said:
    I can’t help but gleefully point out that Hillary Clinton does not belive McCain crossed any line. Heh.
    But the story he linked to said:
    CLINTON: I think the McCain/Palin campaign has gotten quite negative in the last few days. It doesn’t do anybody a service.
    Which doesn’t quite fit Manju’s claim.

    . . . . . And yet it does fit his agenda, whatever that might be at the given moment ;)

  30. 15 · Faiqa said

    I wrote a letter to the Obama campaign that they aren’t going to read about this issue. I understand the issue of political expediency, but it hurts all the same.

    Good for you! I support him and am actually going to vote for him, I’ve decided, but his treatment of Islam throughout this campaign has been far short of his treatment of Blackness (which is at points also problematic – but there’s no equivalent of the speech on race from March or whenever it was that covers religion). This says more about American politics maybe than him, but his campaign has chosen a startegy where he:

    a) talks to AIPAC, a zionist group, and tells them that jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel. b) talks about bombing Pakistan unilaterally c) the actons described above about keeping women with headscarves out of his space

    I undersatnd the political expediency as well, but he’s such a play it safe guy that he screws over other people in the process sometimes, and Muslims and Muslim-Americans are one of those groups. Yes, I would rather he win than go down in a blaze of glory fighting every progressive cause, but he’s much closer to the first extreme than the second and with the size of his lead, as the race goes forward or after he wins, I would really really really really like to see something that would justify the support that we’re all putting into him. It’s not enough anymore to do something f@#ked up and apologize for it later like the D-Punjab thing.

    (requisite statement that McCain’s campaign is MUCH MUCH MUCH worse, and I’m frightened to imagine what Sarah beyond the Palin and her protonazi friends would do if given completely free reign, so vote obama).

  31. “Me, I hope McCain/Palin continues with the attacks. It will only increase the percentage Obama wins by. Winning is the best revenge indeed.”

    Depends on what “attacks” ulitmately have merit. Some say Obama has attained sainthood and detractor only hate him for his goodness, but time will tell. I’m a doubting Thomas as you may deduce from the above post.

    Revenge is a dish best eaten cold. Things are still pretty hot.

  32. dr.

    1. correct me if i’m wrong, but I believe he retracted the ‘undivided jerusalem” statement–which is good, because being for an undivided Jerusalem would put him completely out of the political middle-ground discourse in Israel.
    2. Somewhat unproductive way to the ask the question–a better way IMO would be to ask, “are you ok with the likely deaths/injuries suffered by civilians in the course of a unilateral attack(s), premised on hard intelligence, in pakistani territory?”
    3. That’s probably a better question for Axelrod. I doubt Obama is heavily involved in the formulation of many campaign organization-level directives, much less the reaction of lower level employees/volunteers. If this happened at multiple campaign stops, as with mccain/palin’s ‘enthusiasm’ problem, then it’s fair to ask the top of the ticket about their rhetoric and it’s implications.
  33. @Dr. Anonymous : Well said, as usual. I will be voting for Obama, as well, in November. While your points about Pakistan and Israel are well reasoned, as a Muslim-American, I’m not so concerned with these issues as some others that share my demographic. The major complaint I have is rests upon the utter racism which underlies the Muslim smear campaign against him as well as his lackluster reaction to it. But, I do agree that I would rather see him win than go down in a blaze of glory. Yet another life lesson that what is right is not always right for right now. Ooh, I made that up. Obviously.

  34. “I wanna do right but not right now.” And, spooky as it is, the song is “Look at Miss Ohio” Great tune.

    Gillian Welch! She makes the banjo sexy!.

  35. Heck, Bush I had an Arab-American Chief of Staff from 1989-1991.

    Sununu is unusual in another respect in US politics: a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering in an area otherwise filled with lawyers and non-technical degrees.

  36. 41 · bess said

    “I wanna do right but not right now.” And, spooky as it is, the song is “Look at Miss Ohio” Great tune.
    Gillian Welch! She makes the banjo sexy!.

    Po’ Ralph Stanley.

  37. Manju: One of the side effects of consuming vasts amounts of useless information often means treading the blurry line of plagiarism. Thanks for keeping me honest. Somewhere inside, I knew it was too much to believe I had come up with that on my own.

    On another note, Obama’s campaign responded to my “aggravated Muslim” e-mail with a form e-mail thanking me for my input and quoting the late Paul Simon’s (senator not singer) stance that we can disagree without being disagreeable. Does that mean that Obama disagrees with me that he’s not vocal enough about the subtext of racism and prejudice in the “Dear Joe Six Pack, I’m NOT a Muslim, Gosh Darn It” position? No, it most likely indicates that form e-mails can’t possibly cover every complaint against the campaign.

    They did e-mail me the following “Obama on Faith” pdf if anyone’s interested. http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/ObamaonFaith.pdf

  38. I wonder how the mobs would react if a Hindu or Sikh was on the ticket. Imagine the dirt they could find on Jindal! The church scandal was the best thing to happen to B.O, it made it impossible for the fundies to say he is an Arab who has a crazy black pastor. How can any minority consider the GOP? It took them 20+ yrs to find a worthy woman to put on their ticket and the best they could do was Palin? I am ashamed of that party as a Hindu and as a woman.

  39. 38 · Nayagan said

    dr. 1. correct me if i’m wrong, but I believe he retracted the ‘undivided jerusalem” statement–which is good, because being for an undivided Jerusalem would put him completely out of the political middle-ground discourse in Israel. 2. Somewhat unproductive way to the ask the question–a better way IMO would be to ask, “are you ok with the likely deaths/injuries suffered by civilians in the course of a unilateral attack(s), premised on hard intelligence, in pakistani territory?” 3. That’s probably a better question for Axelrod. I doubt Obama is heavily involved in the formulation of many campaign organization-level directives, much less the reaction of lower level employees/volunteers. If this happened at multiple campaign stops, as with mccain/palin’s ‘enthusiasm’ problem, then it’s fair to ask the top of the ticket about their rhetoric and it’s implications.

    He did back off the Jerusalem statement, but the point is that he made it in the first place, and that he felt it necessary to make in front of AIPAC (where in an ideal world no one would be speaking). In stating all of these (there’s one related to Iran as well, I think, and probably others) the pattern is what matters – he hasn’t done anything about the discourse on Muslims in the United States. So regardless of what you think of U.S. policy towards Afghanistan/Pakistan/GWOT, that the blatantly anti-Muslim character of it hasn’t been raised, let alone challenged, is problematic. Again, obviously the blame doesn’t rest solely with Obama, but he has, for better and for worse, contributed to it if only in the rhetorical silences. He is a GOOD politician and running a GOOD campaign and therefore, I’m willing to hold his campaign responsible for it. And ultimately, I think the buck for a campaign stops with the candidate, not the campaign manager – if the campaign manager is controlling major policy statements the way that Rove (or whoever) did with Bush, that in and of itself would be cause for great pause, particularly given the enormous number of people both within and outside the U.S. that the kinds of statements made and not made actually affect.

  40. 39 · Faiqa said

    @Dr. Anonymous : Well said, as usual. I will be voting for Obama, as well, in November. While your points about Pakistan and Israel are well reasoned, as a Muslim-American, I’m not so concerned with these issues as some others that share my demographic. The major complaint I have is rests upon the utter racism which underlies the Muslim smear campaign against him as well as his lackluster reaction to it. But, I *do* agree that I would rather see him win than go down in a blaze of glory. Yet another life lesson that what is right is not always right for right now. Ooh, I made that up. Obviously.

    Thanks for the kind words :) I think the others that you refer to are correct to emphasize the problems because the discourse feeds the atmosphere both of foreign warfare and of hate crimes and deportations within the U.S. as well as more everyday forms of abuse (they’re all tied together through the idea that Muslim=dangerous Other). It is, as you say, a way of speaking that exists in the U.S. that rests on utter racism.

    So I agree with your life lesson, and also agree with you that it’s sad, but I only want to point out that there are a lot of other things that we do or don’t do that have nothign to do with Obama’s chances of winning. If Obama can’t say it despite that he knows because he has made a calculation that he needs to in order to win – well that is all the more reason why we ought to figure out how the best way it is to point it out to change the conversation and delegitimize this kind of racism. I’m not one for telling people who are acting more out of ignorance than dickheadishness to shut up, but I do think that the level of tolerance for anti-Muslim ideas in the U.S. is STILL out of control and needs to stop. There are strategies that would help promote this (writing lettesr to the editor that have little or nothing to do wtih the presidential race, etc.).

  41. Totally off-topic comment which might be deleted later tonight:

    In six minutes (six minutes…six minutes…Doug E. Fresh you’re on…) we will be live-blogging the debate– well, live-MICRO-blogging would be more accurate– via our Twitter.

    What is Twitter?

    Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send “updates” (or “tweets”; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific. [viki]

    Last time we posted about 20 updates…this time, who knows? :)

  42. Thank you for alerting us to the Twitter commentary THREE MINUTES BEFORE THE DEBATE BEGAN.

    Oh well…