Over the past week or two, John McCain's campaign has helped make the word "Arab" a pejorative, and Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, into a synonym for "terrorist." Whether it's from McCain's lips or his scary campaign mouthpieces, it doesn't matter much: he's simply not doing enough to stop these lies. Now, we all know at this point the case against this ghastly strategy of nouvelle racism and fear mongering. But I'd like to raise another reason why John McCain should be so ashamed for not clearly correcting his audience when they link "Arab" with "dangerous" and say the word Hussein with the amount off condemnation Christie Brinkley might use to describe her ex-husband: his daughter, Bridget.
While the McCain-Palin campaign spouts off about family values, they have lost theirs. How dare John McCain not strongly defend the Arab nation, the name Hussein, this rampant racism when his own daughter was born in Bangladesh, a country that is almost 90 % Islamic, where the name Hussein is so common that it isn't completely unlikely that Bridget could have been related to someone known by that very moniker?
John McCain is now losing this election. So when he fails to correct supporters who seem to think that it is impossible to be "decent" and "Arab" at the same time, don't you think that he might want to first preserve the self-image of his daughter as a non-white girl from Bangladesh than perpetuate the criminally untrue stereotype that anyone that looks like her or has a Muslim-sounding name is to be feared? Or isn't decent? At the end of the day, if he loses this thing, he still has a family to raise. He lectures about putting country first -- shouldn't he put family first, too?
It's hard enough growing up knowing you are different from your family, to be Bengali girl with Caucasian siblings and a name that's Irish/Celtic in origin. So shouldn't John McCain be the first -- not the last -- to step out and correct this racist rhetoric, if not for the sake of his campaign or his country, but for his own daughter who shouldn't have to grow up wondering if the same people who support her father think everyone with her skin color can so easily be called a terrorist? Let alone, think that this is fair political strategy.
In an interview in 2000, John McCain said, on the topic of using race as a political weapon:
It's a really nasty side of politics...It's just unfortunate that that sort of thing still exists As you know she's Bengali, and very dark skinned. A lot of phone calls were made by people who said we should be very ashamed about her, about the color of her skin. Thousands and thousands of calls from people to voters saying "You know the McCains have a black baby." I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like those.
Now here we are, eight years later, except McCain and his supporters are using the same kind of "nasty" language to describe and tear down his opponent. He certainly didn't tell his supporter that there was a "special place in hell" for her when she claimed she was scared of Obama because she heard he was an Arab -- he simply said "no, ma'am" and waxed poetic for a moment about his opponent's decency and status as "citizen" a family fan. He's right -- Obama is a family man. Unlike John McCain, he'd never make his daughters feel the same way Mr. Maverick's likely making his feel right now.
The Republican Party: party of family values. Except of course, when it's your own family.