Monday, October 20, 2008

What's the Problem?

Undoubtedly you have seen the clip of the lady at the McCain rally who called Obama "an Arab" and John McCain's reaction.  If not, you can see it below.

My first reaction to this was, "Wow."  My next reaction was, "McCain handled that well."  Then I watched the video again.  I listened to John McCain's response one more time.  In response to her saying, "He's an Arab," McCain says, "No, ma'am.  No, ma'am.  He's a decent, family man citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues."  That's true.  That is exactly true.  However, that response implies that being an Arab is none of those things.

Sure, McCain was reacting on the spot to a tough situation but he's a politician - he's used to that.  He also knows that even seemingly harmless comments can offend and cause outrage.  He's smart enough to know not to imply that being Arab means that you can't be a good person, too.  I don't entirely blame John McCain for this.  Since 9/11 our society has tolerated the demonization of Arabs and Muslims (terms that I believe most Americans think are interchangeable).  Calling someone Arab or Muslim implies that they are anti-American at best and a terrorist at worst.

I had another exchange with a family friend in Indianapolis while discussing Barack Obama.  The woman I was talking to was a McCain supporter and asked me, "Aren't you worried about him being a Muslim?"  After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I responded, "First of all, he's not Muslim.  He's a Christian.  Second, why exactly should that be such a big problem?"  She backpedaled a bit and never really answered my second question and I didn't push any further since we were at a birthday party and I didn't feel like killing everyone's mood.  However, this has become accepted bigotry in our society.  Everyone tends to lump Muslims and terrorists into the same category and everyone feels the need to defend themselves when called "Muslim" or "Arab." 

The "Muslims" and "Arabs" have become the new "Russians" and "Commies" and are now the focus of our ire and hatred.  The problem is that there is a major difference between the USSR and the Muslim community.  The USSR was a nation with a government that opposed and was openly hostile to the U.S.  Muslims are people who practice the religion of Islam.  They do not all believe that America should be destroyed.  In fact, there are many Muslims who live in and love America.

We should be focusing our hatred on terrorists who want to destroy America - regardless of their religion or race or country of origin.  This may seem obvious to you, but it is not obvious to everyone.

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