Marie Matta: Arab attacks wrong
October 15, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The outrageous personal attacks by the McCain campaign and their supporters against Barack Obama have been reported widely and discussed this past week. What has not been addressed, however, is the implications of those attacks for Arab Americans.
At a rally in Minnesota, a woman labeled Sen. Obama an “Arab,” intending it as a derogatory characterization. Although Sen. McCain defended his opponent, calling him “a decent family man … (a) citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues,” he ignored the tone behind the “Arab” remark. What signal does that send to the Arab American population in this country?
Statistics from the Arab American Institute indicate there are 3.5 million Americans of Arab descent, and of those, 30 percent live in five of the battleground states in this election: Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
As a person of Middle Eastern origin here in Colorado, another battleground state, I am angry that “Arab” has become a dirty word. Arab Americans have made just as significant and positive a contribution to this country and its various sectors as any other ethnic group. Whatever our ethnicity or religion, we are human beings, equal under the laws of this country and deserving of equal respect.
To the McCain/Palin rally crowd: Barack Obama’s father was from Kenya, which is in East Africa and not an Arab country. But so what if it were? Is it written in the Constitution that the president of the United States must be a white, Anglo-European Christian? This is the 21st century. Is it not time for the highest office in the land to reflect the diversity of the electorate?
The McCain campaign and its supporters claim that Barack Obama is dangerous, yet they are the ones to be feared with their inflammatory cries and hateful attitudes. Is this the America that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are proud of? Is this the “America … as the greatest source for good in this world” that Gov. Palin sees?
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