Rumors that Barack Obama is a Muslim or Arab or terrorist have been part of the “smear campaign” mounted against him by the opposition. The controversy has been on my mind a lot, especially after seeing this video of McCain’s town hall meeting where a woman calls Obama an Arab. McCain responds by assuring the audience that Obama is not an Arab, but rather ‘a decent family man, citizen,’ as if to say that Arabs cannot be either. What bothers me about this response is that McCain seems to be saying that calling someone ‘Arab’ in America is an insult. Why is being an Arab person an insult? What does it mean to throw around words like Arab, Muslim, and terrorist in American politics?
Colin Powell joined MSNBC to endorse Obama for president and pointed out that Obama is not a “secret” Muslim but rather a practicing Christian. He asked viewers, “So what if he is [a Muslim]?” Jean posted her thoughts about the Powell interview on Inside Islam last week. As Inside Islam challenges stereotypes and illuminates diversity in the Islamic world, I hope to post more questions like this for everyone to respond. Jean also read responses from the comment section on air during our live radio broadcast, Young Muslims and New Media.
I will be blogging the 2008 Presidential Elections from NPR Headquarters in Washington D.C. as the results come in. Do you think Colin Powell’s statement has made a difference? Who else is setting the record straight in election politics? Do you think the charge of being a Muslim has had a meaningful effect on today’s results? How else have the use of terms and ideas related to Islam impacted this political season? These questions will be in the back of my head tonight.