• DOUBLETAKE 08: “Taking a second look at race and racism in the 2008 presidential elections”

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The “Obama as Muslim Terrorist” Problem

There’s been a LOT of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab rhetoric throughout the election season this year. The idea that Barack Obama is a “Muslim Terrorist” is spreading rampant throughout right-wing circles, and countless photoshopped images of Obama in Arab garb can be found in a quick google image search. The implication in these images, of course, is that being a Muslim or being Arab MUST mean he is also a terrorist. Even if Barack Obama WAS Muslim, which he is not, what’s the problem? But anti-Muslim/ anti-Arab racism is so deeply held in this country, that using the term “Muslim” has come to be code word for “evil.” Check this image…

Senator John McCain’s campaign has done little to offset these stereotypes. In fact, in some instances, the Republican campaign reinforces or encourages this racist thinking. For example, Governor Sarah Palin last week suggesting that Obama has been “palling around with terrorists,” referring to a long-ago and vague connection between the Senator and former 60’s radical William Ayers

Or in this clip here, where a woman at a McCain rally says “I don’t trust Obama. He’s an Arab,” and John McCain responds: “No, ma’am, he’s a decent family man and citizen.” As if being an Arab and a decent family man and citizen are somehow mutually exclusive! The rage at McCain rallies in the last week often centers on this assumption that Obama is connected to terrorism and that he is a Muslim.

Don’t fall for these racist tactics and rhetoric. We at AWARE_LA encourage everyone to reject the hate in 08. No matter who you vote for, we must stop this racist rhetoric and thinking.

Fortunetaly, others are working on this issue. A non-partisan organization called FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has launched an important campaign to look at anti-Muslim rhetoric in the news media.

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DoubleSpeak Dictionary #4

Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post delivers this edition of our DoubleSpeak Dictionary… a critical look at the use of the term “uppity” to describe Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it finally happened: A Republican congressman has come right out and called Barack Obama “uppity.”

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), often described as one of the most conservative members of Congress (which is saying something), used that racially loaded term to describe Obama in a conversation today outside the House chamber with a reporter from The Hill. As you can see in The Post’s news coverage, the reporter gave Westmoreland a chance to take it back. Bless him, he didn’t.

I love it when everybody’s cards are on the table.

A spokesman for the congressman said later that his boss didn’t realize that term has long been used to describe African Americans who don’t know their place. If so, he is the only born-and-bred Southerner alive who is so oblivious…..

The notion that Obama is somehow reaching beyond his station has been a subtext of the attacks on his eloquence, his academic resume, his ambition — qualities that are usually prized in a leader but that are somehow twisted by Obama’s opponents into negatives. It is within even Lynn Westmoreland’s limited grasp to understand that “uppity” means one thing: Who does this black guy think he is to run for president? If Republicans are going to ask that question, they shouldn’t be allowed to do it through hints and nudges. Just do like Lynn Westmoreland and put it in plain English.

DoubleSpeak Dictionary # 5

Even Michelle Obama in her speech at the DNC said she thought Barack Obama’s name was “weird” when they first met…. what’s behind the emphasis and apologies for his “foreign-sounding name?”

Dictionary Entry by Organizer JP

“Foreign-sounding” or “weird” name:

This descriptor is attached selectively to U.S. citizens’’ names, and it’s use implicitly asserts that only those of northwest European, white descent are appropriate candidates for high office. The term implies that U.S. identity should be given only to those who have names that seem familiar to xenophobic, nativist English-only speakers (so-called “American names”), and suggests that candidates of non-Anglo and non-European descent are not to be trusted. The usage is racist in limiting the pool of candidates to white people.
see also: Barack Hussein Obama (Doublespeak Dictionary entry)

“Barack Hussein Obama:”
Have you ever seen (seemingly neutral) news reports that tell you John McCain’’s middle name? Sarah Palin’’s? Joe Biden’’s? Using Obama’’s middle name suggests affiliation of this presidential candidate of color with Saddam Hussein and terrorism in minds of people who do not know that the name “Hussein” is as common as Jones in some cultures. This selective use of Obama’s middle name is racist in its association of person of color with a threatening image.
see also: “foreign-sounding” name