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Twitter is Lauding the Legacy of John McCain with This Problematic Campaign Rally Moment

McCain has had plenty of heroic moments. This isn't one of them.

John McCain

Many took to Twitter this weekend to mark the passing of Senator John McCain, who succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 81. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, McCain led an extraordinary life that was devoted to public service. He was a veteran, a six-term senator, and the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. As condolences pour in on social media, there is one clip that keeps making the rounds:

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The clip from a 2008 campaign rally features a woman who says she is scared of Obama, and calls him an Arab. McCain politely takes the microphone out of her hand and defends Obama by saying, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign issue is all about.”

McCain’s intentions are admirable, and his repeated defense of Obama as an American and a good man is honorable. But it’s also racist to imply that Obama is good because he is not an Arab. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. What does that say about the Arab community?

It is a testament to how low the bar has sunk for political discourse that this is now a celebrated moment. The rise of Trumpism has brought with it a jarring commitment to incivility, to hateful language and to conspiracy theories masquerading as truth. We’ve been so inundated with violent and racist rhetoric that we’re now holding up “he’s a good man, he’s not an Arab” as the pinnacle of grace and understanding. And that’s seriously disturbing.

(via The Huffington Post, image: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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