Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is Muslim The New Queer?

Hanna Ingber Win: Is Muslim The New Queer?
...Just yesterday an elderly woman at a campaign event with John McCain rambled into the microphone about how she doesn't trust Barack Obama and then said, as if it were her kicker, "HE'S ARAB."

McCain took the microphone back, shook his head, and acting like he is suddenly better than gutter politics, said something along the lines of, "No, no, mam. He's a decent, family man."

What?! That old lady did not say Obama is a terrorist. She did not say he is a murderer or a rapist or a drug dealer to little children. She said he is "Arab." And yet, McCain automatically understood her point and equated "Arab" with "bad man."

Similar things have been happening on a regular basis throughout this campaign. Every time people spread emails and rumors that Obama is Muslim, they are not trying to inform voters of the man's religion. They are saying, Don't vote for him because he is Muslim. Every time some religious-right radio talkshow host uses Obama's middle name of Hussein, he is saying, Don't vote for Obama because he is Muslim.

Obama has on occasion said that it shouldn't matter if he were Muslim or not. But he has not done that enough. Usually, he just denies it, as if being called Muslim were an accusation. Wouldn't someone who wants to run on a mantle of hope and bring this country forward on race relations say over and over again, "There is nothing wrong with being Muslim. Muslims have the right to run for office. Muslims are not all terrorists."

When people accuse Obama of being Arab, he should similarly say, "There is nothing wrong with being Arab. We have many allies in the Arab world."

Step back a moment and think again about that old lady at the McCain event yesterday. Imagine her instead saying that she doesn't trust Obama and.... "HE"S JEWISH." Or she doesn't trust Obama and ... "HE'S CHRISTIAN." Or she doesn't trust Obama and .... "HE'S POLISH."

And then, imagine the man running on the Republican Party ticket to be president of the United States say, "No, no, man. He's a decent, family man."

Yes, of course, there is still plenty of hatred against Jews out there in the world. But a Republican presidential candidate would never say that because there would be a backlash from the Jewish community, and probably (hopefully) from many other communities.

So where's the backlash now? We hear a lot about this election getting "uglier" and politics getting "dirtier." We discuss those voters in the South or rural PA who say they'd never vote for a black man. So why don't we hear about the ongoing racism against Muslims and Arabs that has been coming out in this campaign?...

No comments: