“So What If Obama Were a Muslim or Arab?”
I’ve got to say, Campbell Brown has impressed me with her willingness to say what other journalists have only been thinking this election season. First, she called out the McCain campaign for shielding Palin from the press “like a delicate flower who will wilt at any moment.” And her latest commentary addresses the bigotry against Arabs and Muslims popping up at McCain rallies.
Last week a supporter told McCain she didn’t trust Obama because he was an Arab, to which McCain replied, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not, thank you.”
Now, I commend Sen. McCain for correcting that woman, for setting the record straight. But I do have one question — so what if he was?
So what if Obama was Arab or Muslim? So what if John McCain was Arab or Muslim? Would it matter?
When did that become a disqualifier for higher office in our country? When did Arab and Muslim become dirty words? The equivalent of dishonorable or radical?
We’ve all been too quick to accept the idea that calling someone Muslim is a slur. We can’t tolerate this ignorance — not in the media, not on the campaign trail.
Few have been willing to address that issue directly, and as a consequence, slurring Muslims/Arabs has become an acceptable shield for racists who would never have voted for Obama in the first place. Racism against African Americans has become so taboo that most genuine racists are afraid express themselves in public. But slurring people from the Middle East? Well, hell, we’re at war and all. Nothing wrong with standing up in front of a large crowd with a microphone and spewing hatred for “those people,” right?
I can understand why this is a sensitive issue in a post-9/11 world. But kudos to Brown for calling a spade a spade. Let’s hope Obama follows suit. His response to accusations like this typically isn’t much different from McCain’s. He reassures voters that, no, he’s not a Muslim; he’s just a decent family man. For once it would be nice to hear him respond along the lines of, “So what if I was?”