Arab-Americans remain at the margins of US politics

Justin Vogt in The National:

BildeDuring his pitch, Bob Straniere, a Republican congressional candidate, made a rather cursory mention of his support for John McCain. A young man sporting ultra-hip jeans and heavily gelled hair raised his hand, and aired his distaste for McCain’s recent statements at a campaign rally in Minnesota. When a supporter there told McCain, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not… he’s an Arab,” the candidate took back the microphone and said ““No, ma’am. He’s a decent family-man citizen.”

“Why,” the young questioner asked Straniere, “would you support a person who would respond in such an unfavourable way to the community?”

A sustained round of applause swallowed the young man’s final words, and all eyes turned to Straniere, waiting to see if he would affirm that he believed Arabs could be decent family men. “You know, we all work very hard, we campaign very hard, and sometimes, your mouth goes faster than your brain,” he said through a stiff smile. Besides, Straniere declared, McCain hadn’t been his first choice – “Rudy Giuliani was!”

This did not quite suffice, and the crowd let Straniere know it with a chorus of boos.

The young man sat down, frowning and rolling his eyes. A woman sitting nearby muttered, “They don’t get it.”

More here.