Gosh, what do you think he’s suggesting about Arabs?

People are remarking on the fact that McCain has recently defended Obama against some of his supporters’ accusations at rallies: there’s been so much hatred expressed, that surely it’s good to start speaking out against it. Surely…. Here’s the defense:

A woman at the town hall asks softly: “I’ve heard that Sen. Obama is an

McCain quickly cuts the woman off.

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man and citizen,” McCain says. “He’s
not. Thank you.”

Oh yeah, that’s a big improvement. No hating there. Nope.

7 thoughts on “Gosh, what do you think he’s suggesting about Arabs?

  1. Some versions of the conversation I’ve heard have the woman suggesting that Obama is an Arab _terrorist_, at which point McCain interrupts. That’s what, for instance, this version says.

    This disagreement is pretty significant, so I think it’s important to get the authoritative version of what occurred before passing judgment.

  2. Just found the video. No use of ‘terrorist’ there. Your version was right.

    Carry on!

    In the context, though, I do find it hard to fault McCain’s treatment at this particular moment. We can, and probably should, question his sincerity, but I’m not sure how I would have liked him to have respond in a better way at this instant.

  3. I’m not inclined to read McCain comments here as indicative of bigotry. I think that he spoke as he did simply because the fact of Obama’s being a decent family man and citizen presumably speaks most directly to the woman’s fears of him.

    Some might draw a parallel between this and Biden’s infamous description of Obama as “clean” and “articulate,” but I think that that case is subtly different, since that description keys on some very specific, culturally salient stereotypes in way that “un-family-man-Arab” does not.

  4. I’m afraid there’s lots of culpability for the association of “arab” with “terrorist” and Palin no doubt was stirring it up with her comments about Obama preferring terrorists.

    In that context, McCain was surely right to interpret her as meaning “arab terrorist” and he was trying, as Jonathan points out, to cope at a particular moment. What we saw was more a sign of the republicans allowing hate to grow in the past so that the connection does not now have to be explicitly drawn.

  5. the argument that Obama is (genetically) an Arab has been floating around for a long time. Some guy did some (fairly limited) analysis relating to Obama’s father’s name and the relationships between various communities in Kenya.

    I’d suggest he never takes a test on it though because genetics is such that for all we know he might be closer to some arbitrary standard Arab than some standard African type, and there are probably people out there stupid enough for that to make a difference.

  6. Here’s more on the hate-mongering in a clip with Rachel Maddow. It includes the exchange mentioned here and criticism from Republicans about the hate-mongering… And then, the reaction of the crowds to McCain’s appeal to be respectful and not to be scared of Obama… (This clip is 10 minutes long…)

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