It is well known that the selection by Democrats of Barack Hussein Obama to be their candidate in the fast approaching 2008 United States presidential election made history.
He is the first African-American presidential nominee, and – if polling continues as is – will be the first black president.
It is also well known that race, heritage, and religion have all reared their heads into the campaign in the ugliest, bigoted of fashions.
Over the past several weeks, several supporters of the McCain-Palin ticket have been fairly overt about their hostility and sheer ignorance about Obama. Much of this ignorance, whether about his race, his religion, etc., has been based on smear rumours that have been bottom feeding across the Internet and tabloids ever since the junior senator from Illinois announced his candidacy.
I call it xenoph-Obama.
Cue little old lady in red McCain-Palin t-shirt: “I can’t trust Obama. I – I have read about him, and he’s not, he’s not, he’s a, um, he’s an Arab.”
McCain cringes, shakes his head, and, likely for the best, takes the microphone immediately away from the lady in question to correct her, lest she do anymore damage to his increasingly damaged campaign. He is crestfallen, stunned, realizing, “Is this what I have to contend with?”
“No ma’am, no ma’am,” utters McCain.
That is what he has to contend with: the image that his campaign is supported by many who are, how shall I say, in the dark when it comes to the facts about Obama’s heritage and faith.
Had only this one old lady been the only public face of naivety, (to put it generously), it may be forgiven. Far from it however, as the Republican vice presidential nominee, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, has worked to stoke the flames of discontent, declaring that Mr. Obama, “pals around with terrorists.”
If Mr. Obama were white, this utterly moronic comment by Palin – one of many she has made – would likely not have stirred up as much controversy. Palin has repeatedly stuck her foot in her mouth time and time again and if the Obama-Biden landslide does occur, historians and political pundits alike will point to McCain’s choosing of her as one of the biggest blunders in presidential political history.
She is doing herself no favours either; with remarks like the “pals around with terrorists” bit, as she looks as backward and boorish as those who shout “terrorist” and “kill him.” Remember that old saying Sarah, that the pen (or words in this case) is mightier than the sword?
Didn’t think so.
Given Obama’s race, these remarks have exacerbated tensions and catalyzed hatred against the Democratic presidential nominee. A police officer from Florida, prior to an official McCain-Palin rally, also emphasized Mr. Obama’s middle name, in a xenophobic attempt to underscore the alleged fact that, “he’s not one of us, he’s a goddamn foreigner.” All the police officer was missing that day was his white hood and burning crucifix.
Yet another horrifying example was the prayer given by a supposed Christian pastor prior to another rally, who insinuated that people are praying to their pagan gods such as Hindu (that’s a belief, not a god), Buddha (he’s not a god either) and Allah for an Obama victory, and hence will think that their gods are bigger than the Judeo-Christian God.
As a worshipper of the Judeo-Christian God myself, I am mortified beyond belief to have this man declare himself a man of God – he is anything but, and shames himself and anyone who calls themselves Christian. I might not believe in Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. per se, but I damn well know to show them all respect which they all wholeheartedly deserve.
I simply do not and cannot understand the paranoia, the disgust some people have for Obama. Some accuse him of being Muslim, unpatriotic because he didn’t at times wear a little American flag on his lapel, or like the old lady, an Arab.
My question is: why would, and why does, any of that matter whatsoever?
If my Prime Minister were a Muslim Arab, I would not lose one moment’s sleep over it. If I knew he or she had integrity, character, and devotion to duty, I would be wholeheartedly in favour of his or her candidacy.
Why does anyone’s faith, race, name, etc. even enter into the world of politics?
It matters only to the primitive, the scared.
Clearly even if Mr. Obama wins the Oval Office, many Americans still have a lot of growing to do; and I pray to my God that the growing starts with the little old lady, the Governor, the police officer, and the pastor.
God bless America.