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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
[Political](Unfiltered)"Decent Family Man"

Last week, a woman at a McCain rally said that she'd been reading and had come to the conclusion that Obama was an Arab and not trustworthy. McCain immediately came to Obama's defense, saying,"That's not so. He's a decent family man." While I'm very happy that McCain was defending Obama, the defense itself bugs me big time.

1. While Obama is neither of Arabian descent nor is he a Muslim (implied by that statement), neither are either (or both) bad things to be.
2. It's good that McCain thinks of Obama as a "decent family man." I have a feeling that's a very high compliment in McCain's book. And it's likely true. However, nothing about "decent family man" implies anything about nationality or religion. Saying he can't be an Arab (or Muslim) because he's a decent family man says that Arabs/Muslims aren't such, and that's just not true. It bugs me. (And I wonder about the trace of "he's Christian therefore he's decent", too.)

And yet, the pundits on CNN last night, including Obama supporters, were all saying how wonderful it was that McCain defended Obama, not once taking in the other implications. So I'm thinking this isn't a McCain/Republican thing but an American thing, and that, also, bugs me.


I agree with you 100%. McCain's own campaign has been planting these seeds of doubt about Barak Obama's background - portraying him as somehow 'different' and therefore, scary. Now this strategy has come home to roost. McCain was forced to admit that Obama is just like any other Presidential candidate. Of course, he can't come out and say - Senator Obama is a fine patriotic American citizen, since his own people implied he wasn't. The best he can do is the lame - 'he's a family man' line, which is offensive and racist.

How is saying he's a decent family man racist? Now I don't know the implications of his comment, but when I think of Arabs especially in the middle east especially, coercing their children to blow themselves up in a crowded market place because Allah said so (or whatever) does not make you a decent family man to any American. So, whether or not he was intending on planting seeds of doubt, the comment itself is not racist or offensive in my opinion.

There are extremists of every stripe. I find it hard to believe that behavior is representative of ALL Arabs.

I disagree.

1. We're not talking about Arabs in the Middle East, but even there I'll venture to say that the majority are NOT raising their kids to be suicide bombers. Some are, and many seem to celebrate them, but it's still an extreme behavior.

2. We ARE talking about an American because only an American can run for president,and there are large numbers of Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, and so far as I can see, NONE of them are being raised to be suicide bombers. By saying that Obama can't be one of them because he's a "decent family man", McCain was implying that no Arab- or Muslim-American (and possibly no Christian) can be one. I'm sure there are bad fathers among them, as there are bad fathers in all national and religious groups, but it's not fair to say all of them are. (Most of the bad fathers I hear about are actually Christians, because that's the majority of the country. Would it be fair for me to imply that all Christians are bad fathers? Of course not.)

Yes, to give him the benefit if the doubt it would be nice if his head shake at "He's an Arab" was just saying "Don't start talking about anybody's ethnic background. That has nothing to do with character."

But since his own campaign knows that this is code for "he's a terrorist" he naturally is giving back the same code. Even when McCain is trying to say something nice about Obama he's sucked into the same ickiness his campaign is using to win. What he's not doing is challenging the whole idea, saying what his background is, and then asking why that's important. Are people saying that if he was an Arab that would mean he was a terrorist etc.

Because being a terrorist is not an Arab (or Muslim) genetic trait, any more than being a family man is a white (or Christian) genetic trait.

No, the implication he was making was that Arabs cannot be decent family men, that Obama, by virtue of not being an Arab, qualified to fit under the category of 'decent family man'.

Wow. If we use the criteria "people who are willing to use thier children of weapons of war" to exclude entire demographics from the definition of 'decent family men', I think you'll find the group is very narrow indeed: there would be no Asian decent family men, certainly not after Vietnam. There would be no African decent family men, certainly not after, oh, right now. There would be no European decent family men, from the days where children were hostages used to ensure the peace between rival duchies right up through Hitler Youth. And there would be no American decent family men, for we all have the blood of at least some of these people running through our veins.

I have tried to keep away from commenting on American politics because a) I would be working from ignorance and b) it is sheer bad manners, but that is deeply disturbing. Here in England (not Scotland and not Wales) we have an Established Church but nobody here would dream of saying anything like that; political life is far more accepting of what religion - or no religion - anybody has. The only question that arises is whether, for example, Catholics in governmental office can be relied on to put the interests of the country (or even their party) ahead of their personal commitments.

I can quite see that it bugs you! And the converse would worry me too.

My take on that claim is that it was on target for its context, because the woman very clearly understood them as opposites and likely would have rejected out of hand any claim otherwise.

That's very likely, and rather sad if true.

I think you see correctly, and it bothers me greatly too.

I wasn't happy that he didn't 1) correct the woman about Obama being an Arab/Arab being synonymous with terrorist and 2) add something (as Obama has done countless times for him) about knowing Obama loves his country and wants what's best for it, even if they disagree about what "best" means.

But then, having watched the clip of that conversation and the one that followed it, I think McCain was blindsided by the woman's remark that she wouldn't feel safe raising a child if Obama was president--that he had literally until that moment not realized how "well" they'd done their hatchet-job with a certain portion of his base--and reacted instinctively to turn back what he'd started. So I'm willing to cut him some slack on this if he and Palin stop their fear-mongering and race-baiting and clearly work to put out the flames they've been fanning the last few weeks.

But I also think this is just one more proof of why this pair don't belong anywhere near the Oval Office.

It's a shame. McCain once had integrity, but he's bartered it away for a chance at the White House.

Yes, I can see that. McCain may have wanted to run a better campaign - I do believe that. But he hired the same people who defamed him and his daughter, and lost control. And picked a vice presidential candidate who is very good at riling people up.

And this is what he's reaping, and he didn't expect it. And he answered the best he could at that moment (and, again, I do believe he wanted to give Obama a true compliment and I don't think he realized it was racist. He, in fact, is assuring his supporters that Obama, while not his choice, will make a good president. Which sounds like if he had a choice, he'd give up now. He's...well, he's tired, I think. And if the campaign is this exhausting, I'd be worried what the presidency could to to him. He's a man who does actively *care*, who does work. The presidency ages everyone, but such men age most. Obama has the years to spare - he's not seasoned enough for me - but McCain does NOT.)

I don't know. I wish it were all over.

he hired the same people who defamed him and his daughter,

I just don't understand how someone could do this and actually have a heart.

Yes, I agree, McCain is reaping the whirlwind.

It's a shame that this--the hate speech and threats of violence--are going to go down as his (probably) final legacy, but he knew what the Rovian Machiavellis were when he hired them, so he's only himself to blame.

I was so upset about this last night. SO UPSET. It's got me to the point where I am beyond words to express my frustration and ANGER at the fact that these things come up, these statements that are both INCORRECT (as in he's not an Arab) and WRONG (as in WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING ANYWAY?).

ARGH. *froth*

I think it's a combination of things.

I think it's partially unconscious racism (it didn't occur to McCain to deny that Arabs or Muslims were all terrorists/that Obama was an Arab or Muslim/that it shouldn't matter if he WERE), and partially I don't think McCain realized just how far some peoples' beliefs in this area had gone. I mean, the McCain campaign IS running smear ads that say Obama associates with terrorists, and so I don't think he should've been QUITE so surprised that people took the terrorist part literally -- but I think he was pretty surprised at how FAR some people had taken it, and didn't respond very well.

Also, I occasionally wonder if people remember that for a long time, the record for "largest act of terrorism inside the borders of the US" was held by a white Christian man.

Yeah, I've been greatly troubled by how Obama has been smeared by being called Muslim and Arab, and how the defences have been "oh, no, he's not!" (which, fair enough, he's not), without an extension of the debate to "and so what if he were?" I imagine that both Muslim and Arab Americans must be feeling spectacularly unwelcome in their own country at the moment.