Campbell Brown's own brand of "special commentary" doesn't quite draw the fanfare of those offered by other media figures. So it should be noted that the CNN anchor has been quietly injecting some righteous fire into the discourse, and last night, she killed it again. A week after calling out the McCain campaign for allowing "race-baiting" on the campaign trail, demanding a "much stronger denunciation" of the rhetoric that was on display at McCain rallies, Brown saluted the GOP candidate for doing just that -- correcting a misinformed voter who thought Senator Barack Obama was a dangerous "Arab." Having given McCain credit, Brown then pivoted and issued a sharp indictment of the underlying prejudices directed at Arabs and Muslims that give rise to such toxic rhetoric in the first place: "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 being dirty words, the equivalent of dishonorable or radical?"
BROWN: First, though, cutting through the bull. Now, you may find it hard to believe that this remains an issue in this campaign, but it does. The candidates, both candidates, are still getting questions about Barack Obama's ethnicity and religion. If you are even semi-informed, then, by now, you already know that, of course, that Barack Obama is an American, of course, Barack Obama is a Christian. Yet, just a few days ago, here was a woman at a rally for John McCain incorrectly calling Obama an Arab.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, I commend Senator 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 being dirty words, the equivalent of dishonorable or radical?
Whenever this gets raised, the implication is that there's something wrong with being an Arab-American or a Muslim. And the media is complicit here, too. We have been all way too quick to accept the idea that calling someone Muslim is a slur.
I feel like I'm stating the obvious here, but, apparently, it needs to be said. There is a difference between radical Muslims who support jihad against America and Muslims who want to practice their religion freely and have normal lives, like everybody else.
There are more than 1.2 million Arab-Americans and about 7 million Muslim Americans, former Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, successful business people, normal, average Americans from all walks of life. These are the people that are being maligned here every time this happens. And we can only imagine how this conversation plays out in the Muslim world.
We can't tolerate this ignorance, not in the media, not on the campaign trail. Of course he's not an Arab. Of course he's not a Muslim, but, honestly, it shouldn't matter.