Wednesday, 18 June 2008

"Whereas McCain only suffers an association with delicious potato products..."

The 2008 Presidential Campaign in America has thus far seen a lot of sniping, smearing, and in-fighting. The Democratic nominations for a candidate alone took up months upon months and gave out a lot of sexism and racism. Barack Obama won which is a good thing because he’s a better choice than Hillary Clinton and yet a bad thing because the citizens of the Red States will never, NEVER, vote a black man into office and so the Democrats will lose the presidency and the world will have to watch for another four years (if we’re lucky) while a Republican America continues to be the playground bully of the world stage.

It doesn’t help Obama’s case that the right-wing media (read as: anything owned by Rupert Murdoch) of the USA is constantly pointing out the fact that he is black. The reasoning appears to go as follows for many Americans: Obama’s skin is the same colour as many terrorists’ skin therefore he must be a terrorist. E. D. Hill on Fox News referred to Obama’s fist bump with his wife as a “terrorist fist jab”? What does that even mean? That’s not a colloquial name for a fist bump. There is absolutely no reason to insert the word ‘terrorist’ in there at all except to incite tacit suspicion into the minds of simple-minded American voters. Over the past seven years, Americans have become psychologically conditioned to jump at the word ‘terrorist’ and incidents like this are playing to that sad Orwellian reality.

It’s also been claimed that Obama is a ‘secret Muslim’: that he’s not really a Christian at all and follows the Islamic religion instead. Rationally of course there’s no reason being Muslim would stand against him – on the contrary, followers of Islam tend to be more disciplined, devoted, hard-working, and dutiful than their Christian cousins. But rationality is not a factor in the American mainstream media and so ‘Muslim’ equates to ‘terrorist’. They’ve also been asserting this nonsensical claim despite reporting on the Rev. Wright scandal a few months ago. The news media has managed to scandalise both Obama’s being a Christian and his not being a Christian within the time of a few short months: a tremendous display of cognitive dissonance.

Then of course there’s the fabulously infantile practice of criticising his name – a factor which he had no control over, which was not his fault, and which says nothing about his character anyway (much like his nationality). Barack Hussein Obama II has the unfortunate coincidence of having the middle name of a dictator whom America had killed and a last name which sounds a little like the first name of the most wanted man alive. Some people in South Carolina noticed this and decided that the separation of religion and politics wasn’t for them. This problematic resemblance of name will surely cause some irrational Americans to undergo some sort of association between this simple boy from Hawaii and America’s most-hated enemies.

It seems that this presidential race is being fought a lot dirtier than previous races. Maybe it’s purely because Obama is the first African-American candidate, maybe it’s because the news networks have nothing to fill their time up with. If it suggests, as it looks like it does, the implicit racism of the American people and the right-wing media networks, then it’s disgraceful. If it merely suggests that the American media is heavily biased against the Democratic party, then it’s disgraceful. I don’t remember these kinds of accusations being thrown at John Kerry - although there were plenty of jokes made at Bush’s expense. Bush did get elected so perhaps some abuse isn’t too bad: then again, being a white male Republican he already had a definite advantage.

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