HIP HOP REPUBLICAN
Institutional Racism Vs. Personal Responsibility
10/31: McCain The Mudslinger?
MCCAIN: Smearing Khalidi
Liberal bloggers are denouncing the McCain camp for attacking Obama over his ties to Khalidi, which they believe is a deliberate effort to exploit anti-Arab bigotry:
- TPM‘s Marshall: “The McCain campaign has been throwing around so much mud and smears in recent weeks that it’s easy to miss just how ugly and shameful their character assassination of Rashid Khalidi is. This is an entirely respectable, highly respected scholar. To go further into making a case for him would only be to enable and indulge McCain’s sordid appeal to racism. For McCain, personally, to compare Khalidi to a neo-nazi, it’s just an offense McCain should never be forgiven for. It’s right down in the gutter with Joe McCarthy and the worst of the worst. Khalidi is in this new McCain set piece for one reason — as a generic Arab, to spur the idea that Obama is foreign, friendly with terrorists and possibly Muslim.”
- Obsidian Wings‘ Eric Martin: “[This is] an attempt to, ultimately, diminish Obama’s standing because he knows a Palestinian-American who participated (constructively!) in the Mideast Peace Process. It’s vile, it’s racist and, sadly, it’s par for the course for the McCain campaign and far too many of its supporters.”
- Juan Cole: “McCain’s and Palin’s attacks on Khalidi are frankly racist. He is a distinguished scholar, and the only objectionable thing about him from a rightwing point of view is that he is a Palestinian. [...] McCain even compared the gathering for Khalidi that Obama attended to a ‘neo-Nazi’ meeting! I mean, really. This is the lowest McCain has sunk yet. McCain is bringing up Khalidi in order to scare Jewish voters about Obama’s associations, and it is an execrable piece of McCarthyism and in fact much worse than McCarthyism since it is not about ideology but rather has racial overtones. Not allowed to pal around with Arab-Americans, I guess. What other ethnic groups should we not pal around with, from McCain’s point of view? Is there a list? Are some worse than others?”
- TAPPED‘s Adam Serwer: “Khalidi is a Palestinian academic who has been critical of Israel and has done work trying to promote democracy in the West Bank, and was trustworthy enough for McCain to have given Khalidi’s group nearly a half a million dollars in grants while McCain chaired the International Republican Institute. [...] But with the Republican Party releasing web ads and sending out mailers with Obama’s face superimposed over maps of the Middle East, I suppose that getting the media to repeat Obama’s name alongside Khalidi’s every five minutes reflects a perverse kind of message discipline. It was less than two weeks ago that Colin Powell was asking ‘is there something wrong with being a Muslim in America?’ Clearly, the McCain campaign hopes you think so.”
- Obsidian Wings‘ hilzoy: “I think this is completely dishonorable. ComparingRashid Khalidi to a neo-Nazi is just beyond vile. But even without that, it just plays on anti-Arab sentiment. Does anyone think that McCain’s audiences know much about Rashid Khalidi, other than his suspiciously Arab name? [...] Khalidi is just a red flag to wave in front of McCain’s audiences. Mentioning his name produces the effect it does because that name is Arab. McCain surely knows this. Colin Powell was big enough to denounce this kind of appeal to bigotry. Years ago, I would have imagined that McCain would do likewise, or at least that he would not engage in it himself. I wish I had been right. And I imagine that in a few weeks, when he contemplates the shredded remains of his honor, he will too.”
- Firedoglake‘s Attaturk: “Dear John McCain, Joe McCarthy called and wants his act back.”
In the eyes of much of the world, Americans – and particularly White males – have come a long way since the election of 2004.
For French newspaper Liberation, author Annette Levy-Willard describes how and why the Joe the Plumbers and Joe Sixpacks of the world have abandoned McCain-Palin.
Willard starts out this way:
“The American is not always a cretin, it must be said. Having covered Bush’s reelection campaign four years ago, I saw how that debilitating cocktail of ‘gay marriage-abortion-family-religion-terrorism,’ mixed into the cauldron labeled ‘moral values broth,’ moved entire states into W’s column.
“The ‘true’ American, according to conservative mythology, is White, with family, patriotic, extremely religious, hates socialism, communism, foreigners and paying taxes. He is so naive that he believes he can save America by attacking Iraq and, at any rate, he has invested himself in a mission: to export his model to other people (without asking their opinion). This American, if he ever existed, no longer exists. This is the terrible discovery that McCain and the Republicans have just made. And it’s super-good news for America and the rest of the world. ”
“The White American – whom McCain calls Joe the Plumber or Palin calls Joe Sixpack – is no longer blinded by lies. He has seen the war in Iraq and is suffering through a crisis, while Republicans spouting about abortion, taxes or an American victory in Iraq no longer move him. The latest poll shows that half of White men are going to vote Democrat. For the first time in thirty years!
I have an article up on the main site about Rashid Khalidi’s relationship with the PLO and why his friendship with Barack Obama matters. The key question is: which Obama will guide U.S. policy toward Israel if he is elected president – the Obama who toasted Khalidi at his farewell party, or the Obama who spoke to AIPAC this year? Like on every other issue with Obama, we won’t know until he’s in office whether he’ll reassert his radical roots, or make pragmatic compromises as he has done as a general election candidate.
Eric Alterman and Adam Serwer make good points about the McCarthyism at work when a noted Palestinian scholar is smeared as a “neo-Nazi.” (Adam: “In fact, if you are Palestinian, I would suggest that you stay away from other Palestinians so no one thinks that you’re doing something suspicious. Don’t bunch up in a group or anything.”) But there’s something else worth adding. In short, the assimilation of Muslims into American society should be properly seen as a national-security issue.
Perhaps the biggest strategic disadvantage Al Qaeda faces in attacking the U.S. “homeland” (how I hate that word) is that the terrorist movement doesn’t, by and large, have any appeal for American Muslims. Al Qaeda gets a more robust hearing in European countries with Muslim diasporas and where Muslims are treated like second-class citizens. That sense of discrimination and alienation is a breeding ground for murderers like Mohammed Siddique Khan, the Leeds-born mastermind of the July 2005 London Underground attacks. The U.S., by contrast, provides the greatest measure of integration and economic opportunity for Muslims of any Western country.
And that’s where Khalidi comes in. He is a distinguished scholar who is not, and has never been, an extremist. His views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as John Judis points out, are fairly congruent with those of the Israeli left. McCain is analogizing him to a “neo-Nazi” because Khalidi is an Arab, and he knows that millions of right-wingers around the country harbor racist beliefs about Arabs. That’s the real meaning of the “Vote McCain, Not Hussein” chants. And America goes there at its own peril: to alienate American Muslims is not only to betray American values, it’s to deprive America of one of its most important national-security protections. And these people have the nerve to say they’ll keep America safe?
Ta Nehisi Coates
Thanks to everyone who sent me clips of McCain folks acting a fool at rallies and evidence of McCain campaign race-baiting. I know I haven’t talking much about Ashley Tood, and Sammy Davis and welfare lately. I was outraged for awhile and now I’m just kinda “meh” about the whole thing. Part of it is because I think Obama is going to win. But the other part is that something about it just feels petty. There are white racists among the American electorate, and the lionshare of them are supporting McCain. OK, now what?
Anyway, there’s been a pretty lively debate raging between Yglesias, Douthat, Judis and Feeny. It’ll probably come as no surprise that I mostly agree with Douthat, if with a significant twist. It’s not that I put it past McCain’s people to race-bait, it’s that I really don’t care. I basically think it’s to our disadvantage to ascribe mystical powers to words like “welfare” and “socialism.” True, I’ve done my share of indicting. But, I really believe that the first step in garnering the votes of any group of people, is to see them human beings with all the complexities and myriad emotions weighing on them that actual people have.
Ta Nehisi Coates
This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder if I’m delusional. I have to admit, who knows more about white people in the South, me or Max Cleland? I know there are GOP pundits who’d disagree, but frankly very few of them are to be trusted on race. That may sound harsh, but I can think on one hand the GOP folks who I’ve seen think about this with some degree of honesty and seriousness. Back to the point, you also wonder how much age is playing into this. Again, this is why I can’t have this debate. I could go back and forth on this all day. Better to focus on what we can control than on whether we’re going to have to play in the rain.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
THE AD: ”He Never Complained Once,” 30-second TV ad.
PRODUCER: National Republican Trust PAC.
WHERE TO SEE IT: Local TV and above.
RATING: 2 on a scale from 0 (misleading) to 10 (truthful)
John McCain has frustrated and puzzled some strategists and supporters by not making an issue of the relationship between Obama and Wright, a former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago known for giving fiery sermons and dabbling in radical politics.
Stepping in is the National Republican Trust Political Action Committee — a month-old anti-Obama group that has no official tie to the Republican National Committee and says it is spending $2.5 million to air this ad in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
Wright, once described by Obama as his spiritual adviser, officiated at Obama’s wedding and baptized his two daughters. Obama credited a Wright sermon, “The Audacity of Hope,” for drawing him to Christianity.
But extensive reporting showed Wright and his church playing no significant role, if any, in Obama’s rising political career, and Obama said they have disagreed since the 1980s about the importance of race as opposed to class in divisions. Obama began to distance himself from Wright before his presidential campaign.
The pastor’s more-inflammatory remarks led Obama to deliver a major speech on race last March in which he rejected the remarks as “not only wrong but divisive.” After Wright’s subsequent comments and dismissal of the speech, Obama angrily denounced him personally and cut all ties, saying: “When I say I find these comments appalling, I mean it. It contradicts everything that I am about and who I am, and anybody who has worked with me, who knows my life, who has read my books, who has seen what this campaign’s about, I think, will understand that it is completely opposed to what I stand for and where I want to take this country.”