This story made news early in the week, but I missed it. It’s a simple little video that, in a sane world, would be utterly unremarkable: a small crowd of McCain supporters heroically confront an obnoxious huckster spreading the “Obama-is-a-Muslim” smear (along with t-shirts and bumper stickers) outside a rally, and ultimately drive him and his minions off. Here’s what I like about this story:
- Definitive proof that all Republicans, despite recent evidence to the contrary, are not total scum.
- The crowd calls this guy out, not because he’s peddling lies, but because he’s using “Muslim” as a slur in and of itself. This can’t be stated enough, and the Democrats themselves have done a piss-poor job of responding to this particular attack (“Muslim? That’s a damn lie!”) by focusing on the truthfulness and ignoring the hatefulness. (Kudos also to Colin Powell for pushing back on the use of Muslim-as-slur in his endorsement of Obama over the weekend.)
- One of the protagonists is a McCain delegate (Daniel Zubairi, himself a Muslim) who goes to some length denouncing this guy to onlookers as not being representative of the campaign. Good for him.
All in all, probably the most refreshing footage you’ve seen of a McCain event all year, including the convention.
Here’s where the hypocrisy takes over… CNN wanted to interview the McCain delegate on Monday. Seems like a pretty straightforward win for McCain – a chance to demonstrate to America that you’re not really promoting bigotry, that there is diversity within the Republican party, that your campaign is about more than pushing smear and innuendo.
If I’m Zubairi, I’m pissed! He goes out of his way to stick up for these clowns, and they turn around and cut his mike. You really have to ask yourself why. Do they feel that the story, which CNN touts as “heroic”, still lends too much credence to the narrative of McCain-rally-as-Klan-rally? Is it because Zubairi steps on their message that Obama is a secret terrorist Muslim? Or do they worry that the mere sight of a dark skinned man of Muslim faith speaking on behalf of the McCain campaign would offend “the base”? All of the above?
Ultimately, they’ve pissed away a perfectly good teaching moment for no other reason than to spare the delicate sensibilities of ignorant rubes – the very ones who need to see and hear this message the most. If there has been one positive thing to come out of the top levels of the McCain campaign this election, I have yet to see it. (Although in fairness, when the subject is Muslim-Americans, the Obama camp has not been much better).