Damn Foreigners Don’t Have No Families Like Us

It is well-known that an elderly lady stood up at a John McCain rally and referred to Barack Obama as an “Arab”. McCain himself seized the mike and contradicted her; or rather, he described Obama as a “decent family man with whom he happened to disagree”. Kudos to the Republican candidate for resisting what was certainly intended as a racial slur; though, as Colin Powell might have said, even if Obama were to be an Arab – that is, an Arab-American – what of it?

However, everyone missed the oddest aspect of this exchange: namely the assumption on both sides that the categories “Arab” and “decent family man” are antonyms. McCain seemed to me to be saying, “Madam, Mr. Obama is no Arab but, on the contrary, a decent family man”. As if Arabs could be neither decent nor faithful providers for their family.

Certainly Americans do talk about their Family Values as if no other people had any. It may be suspected that the whole thing is narcissistic self-praise, the equivalent of the Nazi yammering about being the Master Race. Probably all the nations in the world, when asked to describe their cultures, will say something about believing in the Family. Pathologically chauvinist cultures will contrive to insinuate that the lesser peoples do not have families at all. In fact, all human cultures put the family first; the only difference between them lies in how courteously they treat outsiders.

Posted on February 26, 2010 at 10:07 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, 'Family Values'

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