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An unsurprising double standard?

Like many Irish folk, I find the US presidential elections to be gripping stuff, and I’ve whiled away many an hour reading the articles and watching the dribs and drabs of coverage that Digg throws at me.

When McCain interrupted one of his supporters who called Obama ‘an arab’, he was rightly lauded by the media for showing a spark of the integrity that once defined his character. However, nobody seemed to pick up on the latent racism his sloppy wording betrayed. Eventually, Digg threw up this video from CNN’s Campbell Brown, who immediately earned my respect for pointing out something obvious in a pointed, mature fashion:

The nature of how I consume my American-News Media (5-minute chunks on YouTube, in case you weren’t paying attention) means that I encounter a lot of pundits, but this woman left an impression on me for having a rare kind of common sense, as well as a willingness to stand up for a minority who are slighted so often that few seem to notice anymore.

My respect for Ms Brown was diminished somewhat by this next clip, relating to an even more egregious misrepresentation of a political candidate’s creed (this time perpetrated by the incumbent senator). The embedded video shows enough background for you to see what’s going on here:

As you can see from the video, Brown commits the same casual linguistic xenophobia that she rebuked McCain for just a few days prior. She hits the word ‘godlessness’ with such a punch it betrays her own derision of the position, and after slamming Senator Dole for ‘falsely accus[ing] her opponent of not believing in God’, she takes the effort to emphasise that this is ‘again, a false accusation’.

Surely they could have run a find&replace on the script from the first video embedded above?

So what if Kay Hagan was an atheist? So what if Senator Dole was an agnostic? Would it matter? When did that become a disqualifier for higher office in our country? When did atheist become a dirty word, the equivalent of dishonorable or radical?

Whenever this gets raised, the implication is that there’s something wrong with being an Atheist-American. And the media is complicit here, too. We have been all way too quick to accept the idea that calling someone godless is a slur.

There are more than X million Atheist-Americans, former Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, successful business people, normal, average Americans from all walks of life. These are the people that are being maligned here every time this happens. And we can only imagine how this conversation plays out in the Rationalist world.

We can’t tolerate this ignorance, not in the media, not on the campaign trail. Of course she’s not an atheist. Of course she’s not an agnostic, but, honestly, it shouldn’t matter.

I couldn’t agree with you more, imaginary-Campbell-Brown-who-has-consistent-logic. This bare-faced bigotry needs to end.


3 Responses

  1. Good post, Sully. Nice job consciousness-raising.

    I would ultimately like to see word “godless” (and atheist) become not accepted but obsolete, when the absurdity of its opposite (god, theism) becomes universally clear and no longer justifies its existence, like “non-flat-Earth-believer” (or whatever).

    Maybe this is too lofty and premature for now.

    It’s important to end the bare-faced-bigotry, by pointing out, just like you did, the silly and unconscious double standards.

  2. Old lady: “Obama’s an Arab.”
    McCain: “No, he’s a good man.”

    Two mutually exclusive sets, apparently.

  3. Agreed, the bare-faced bigotry does need to end, but when do you think it will? Ever since the founding of United States, it has been one side against the other, North vs. South, Americans vs. English, Americans vs. Native Indians, and now it’s continuing its sick cycle with Freedom-Lovers vs. Terrorists (aka American vs. Arabs) and the ideology engrained in the American psyche (and it’s a universal thing) requires that they view their “enemies” as the scum of the earth. Rarely will you find a battlefield where one side is NOT throwing mud at the otherside in the form of verbal abuse and derision. It is unfortunately the nature of the game.

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