I just read an article in The New York Review of Books authored by a group of regular contributors. This article, “A Fateful Election,” includes a segment by Joan Didion in which she discusses how the presidential campaign has distracted us from “the same intractable questions.” Didion argues that it’s easier to live in the fantasy world of the campaign than it is to confront our realities:
We could forget the 70 percent of American eighth graders who do not now and never will read at eighth-grade levels, meaning they will never qualify to hold one of those jobs we no longer have. We could forget that we ourselves induced the coma, by indulging the government in its fantasy of absolute power, wielded absolutely. So general is this fantasy by now that we approach this election with no clear idea where bottom is: what damage has been done, what alliances have been formed and broken, what concealed reefs lie ahead. Whoever we elect president is about to find some of that out.
Just so — it’s so much easier to target an enemy beyond than the enemy within. Enter the Arab. Kinda like the African. Lots of different countries, languages, cultures — but in the U.S.’s studied ignorance of the world (Global Studies Lite?), all we need is one composite terrorist Arab, and we’re good to go.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has warned that targeting of Arabs and Arab Americans tends to increase as politicians cavalierly accept ethnocentric perspectives, such as McCain’s — when a rally participant accused Obama of being an Arab and McCain responded that, oh no — Obama is a decent family man — the only logical connection is that Arabs therefore cannot be decent or family men. Hmmm. The ADC has alerted folks to a recent attempt to stir up anti-Arab sentiment, which is the mass stuffing of newspapers (over 28 million) with the free DVD called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. I’ve got a copy and don’t really want to watch it — but I will.