Tuesday, April 26, 2011

tuesday tickle

Disclaimer: I try not to bunch posts with political content, but it can't be helped that what I relate below happened to occur when it did. 

We attended a town hall meeting last night held by freshman congresswoman Diane Black. She's not actually our congresswoman, but a portion of our county is among her constituents. I had never attended an event like this so I joined Ken at the last minute as he headed to the courthouse.

Attendance was light, about 25-30 people, most of whom were supporters of Mrs. Black, and decidedly conservative, if not Tea Party. As she allowed several times during the meeting, I will note that Mrs. Black and I agree to disagree on most issues. That said: I thought she handled herself well, refrained from badmouthing, and though clearly partisan in her outlook she seems earnest in doing her job well.

The meeting went smoothly until the time when questions came from the floor. The democrats in the room did well to remain restrained until one couple referred to President Obama as an Arab (that was a new one to me!). I don't recall the immediate verbal reaction to that, but it wasn't long before one woman challenged the couple on their statement, asking them a question that ended with, "or do you not like him because he's black?" The crowd went wild, and you could hear the collective hackles go up around the room in concert with the protesting voices. There was a loud response, "he's not black!" (another new one), and then the woman who claimed that Obama is Arab asked, "are you calling me a racist?" The exchange continued in this vein for a brief time, during which the woman who was affronted by the perception that she was being called a racist looked at Ken (who had said nothing) and said, "you need to get informed." The county sheriff, who was present (and off duty) stepped in to calm things down and restore some order to the room.  People who had stood up to engage in the heated exchange sat down. And then the aforementioned woman turned our direction and said, "I am not a racist. I didn't even grow up in the south!" 

You'll understand if that phrase appears on this blog now and again!


Carolina Linthead said...

The "Arab" business has emerged before at political rallies (I'm thinking John McCain encountered this), and by almost any measure, and certainly when said in the tone you describe, it is a racist statement. Historically, that term has been used in American discourse to define someone as "other" than WASP, or at least other than "white" and therefore a person of lesser quality, status in society, etc. It's the old "I'm not a racist, but..." preface to saying something overtly racist: "I'm not a racist, but the President [who had an Anglo-American mother...daughter of Stanley and Madelyn Dunham, for cryin' in a creek...and a Kenyan father] is an Arab!" RIIIIGHT!!!

It's been a tough week for common sense, let alone common decency, in America. I was appalled to read (I didn't watch the ABC interview) that Franklin Graham has joined the ranks of "birthers," and he also questioned Obama's claim to be a Christian (I thought that was God's call to make, Franklin!).

Thankfully Shep Smith on Fox News (yes, you read correctly) denounced Graham's birtherism, pointing out that Fox News is satisfied that Obama is a natural-born citizen of the United States. Bill O'Reilly has issued similar rebukes of the birthers, and yet way too many Americans are stuck on this notion, so many that Trump thinks they can get him elected president! *sigh*

We must continue to ask why people insist on such claims and why they continue to reject the evidence put before them (a point Smith made: Graham challenged Obama to show us proof...Smith noted wryly that he already has). If one disagrees with Obama's association with Rev. Wright, say that. If one believes that Obama is anti-Israel, say that. Heck, if one believes Obama is a closet Muslim (one of the least devout Muslims OF ALL TIME, I'm thinkin'), say that. But one simply cannot just throw out crap like "He's an Arab!" and not expect to be called on it!

As for the issue of Obama's Christianity, I understand Graham's rhetoric: there is more to being a Christian than being a church member. But implied in the whole package is that Obama is not one of "us": not "American," and perhaps underlying that notion, not White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. That is racism, and it knows no geographical boundary. "I didn't even grow up in the South." LOL!

The Bug said...

What in the WORLD? The south is the only place you can be racist? Wow. I am constantly astounded at how ignorant people are (as in, uninformed or misinformed on subjects - not that they're not CAPABLE of learning, they just don't learn). And I'm not even going to talk about the Arab comment. Whew!

Terri said...

I attended a couple of these events when I lived in Tucson. One with Gabriele Giffords (who was my Representative) and Janet Napolitano (who was the Governor)- they were hosting the meeting to talk about creating a community wide response to PTSD in soldiers returning from war. (It was very informative, and lots of good dicussion). The other one I attended was hosted by John McCain...and I am sure he had shills in the audience - who were the only folks allowed to ask questions....and, oh my the statements and questions that arose - this is before there was a big Tea-Party movement....but it was certainly the beginning of it. I spent far too much time there in the midst of ignorant uninformed and misinformed people....

KimQuiltz said...

Whaa I .. whose its ... razza fratza ... I mean, REALLY!

Suzan said...

You are a better woman than I will ever be! If I had been there and tried to keep quiet I would have either swallowed my tongue or had a stroke. This is another reason why I am convinced I will never survive the next election. Surely at some point listening to the uninformed, uneducated and mean spirited folks that abound, my head will explode.

Carolina Linthead said...

Follow-up (how could I not, given the release of the "long form" certificate): this editorial says what I was trying to say about why such statements regarding Obama have everything to do with race:


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