This past weekend the New York Times featured blogger reactions from the Arab world to Barack Obama’s campaign victory in the US presidential elections. Most reactions are similar to those of many Americans and include apprehensions over whether the president-elect can fulfill the enormous expectations heaped onto him by the previous administration’s reputation around the world. The Damascene Blog in Syria asked:
Dare we hope that the eight-year nightmare is over?
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?