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I prefer to discuss politics through my novels, but I am truly dismayed these days. Twice last week alone, speakers at McCain-Palin rallies have referred to Sen. Barack Obama, with unveiled scorn, as Barack Hussein Obama.
Never mind that this evokes — and brazenly tries to resurrect — the unsavory, cruel days of our past that we thought we had left behind. Never mind that such jeers are deeply offensive to millions of peaceful, law-abiding Muslim Americans who must bear the unveiled charge, made by some supporters of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, that Obama’s middle name makes him someone to distrust — and, judging by some of the crowd reactions at these rallies, someone to persecute or even kill. As a secular Muslim, I too was offended. Obama’s middle name differs from my last name by only two vowels. Does the McCain-Palin campaign view me as a pariah too? Do McCain and Palin think there’s something wrong with my name?
But never mind any of that.
The real affront is the lack of firm response from either McCain or Palin. Neither has had the moral courage, when taking the stage, to grasp the microphone, turn to the presenter and, right then and there, denounce the use of Obama’s middle name as an insult. Instead, they have simply delivered their stump speeches, lacing into Obama as if nothing out-of-bounds had just happened. The McCain-Palin ticket has given toxic speeches accusing Obama of being a friend of terrorists, then released short, meek repudiations of some of the rough stuff, including McCain’s call Friday to “be respectful.” Back in February, the Arizona senator apologized for the “disparaging remarks” from a talk-radio host who sneered repeatedly about “Barack Hussein Obama” before a McCain rally. “We will have a respectful debate,” McCain insisted afterward. But pretending to douse flames that you are busy fanning does not qualify as straight talk.
They may not have been able to hear the slurs at the rallies, but surely they have had ample time since to get on camera and warn that this sort of ugliness has no place in an election season. But they have not. Simply calling Obama “a decent person” is not enough.
The McCain-Palin ticket has given toxic speeches accusing Obama of being a friend of terrorists, then released short, meek repudiations of some of the rough stuff, including McCain’s call Friday to “be respectful.”
[P]retending to douse flames that you are busy fanning does not qualify as straight talk.
Simply calling Obama “a decent person” is not enough.
In other words: fuck that “credit where credit is due” bullshit. There’s a damn good reason why John McCain’s (largely mythical) “honour” has evaporated quicker than your 401k and his reputation is now mired in negative equity.
Glenn Greenwald breaks it down:
The mass accusations of “terrorist” and “Arab traitor” against Obama didn’t just get randomly blurted out by a few hard-core, isolated ideologues. Rather, that is exactly the message being spewed systematically from McCain and Palin themselves (“pallin’ around with terrorists”), their parade of ads, and the coordinated efforts of opinion-leaders on the Right. Even veteran campaign reporters for whom Balance is a religion have been acknowledging that the McCain/Palin rallies are unique in their mass-crowd vitriol and intense rage.
One half-hearted, insincere attempt by McCain to restore some of the lost moral capital with his original base (a divestment that, according to Jamison Foser, has been greatly exaggerated) should not be immediately rewarded with a plate of cookies and a pat on his balding pate.