Xenophobes ’r’ us
During the 2004 US presidential campaign, the overall message we foreigners got was this: President Bush is a nationalistic xenophobe, a dumbass who doesn’t know his foreign capitals, and, if re-elected, will totally end any cooperation with other nations. Bush, they told us, was a down-home renegade that hated everybody except the US of A.
They also told us: Senator Kerry, on the other hand, has the support of international leaders. He is more moderate, willing to cooperate and listen to other nations’ viewpoints, and at the UN, better represents the idea of America as a partner rather than a bully.
Maybe the comparison is true, maybe not. But here’s the impression we are getting from the Democrats’ brand now: they hate foreigners.
They might not. Sen. Kerry probably has high-level friends in other governments who support him. I dare say Sen. Clinton does. The world watches Commander in Chief on TV and is getting used to the idea of a female 45th president, whether she’s black or white. But this whole mess about a company in Dubai wanting to acquire a British company that currently operates some US ports seems preposterous.
For the Democratic Party, it makes everyone there look like xenophobes, unable to see the United Arab Emirates as a cooperative, modern country which not only is a US ally, but, more fatally, it reverses any of the goodwill Sen. Kerry gained during his campaign.
In fact, the news portrays the Democrats, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (whom many non-Americans felt gave the Secretary of State a good grilling during her conﬁrmation hearings), as being unable to get past the word Arab in United Arab Emirates; and that by bringing up 9-11 and the fact that two hijackers were from there, they have become guilty of the very thing they criticized the President about: milking a tragedy for political gain.
By all means, attack this UAE company if it can be found that it was complicit in terrorism or any other crime, and stop this acquisition. But maintain the American tradition of guilty till proved innocent.
The United States has made much of its headway through acquisitions of foreign companies, and the UAE is playing by the same rule book. The legal system in the UAE is actually a combination of traditional Shari’a, Egyptian law, the civil law tradition and common law—the last concept being shared with the US. In other words, it’s a pretty global legal system that is adhered to well.
What next? Get all foreigners to divest their US interests and sell up? It’s the message being sent around the world in non-US media: we can’t see beyond your ethnicity. And even if you’ve seen the error of your ways (allegations that Al-Qaeda ﬁnancing went via the UAE; though remember, too, Al-Qaeda was playing the Wall Street markets, too) and are now an ally, we won’t forgive you. I wonder if President Musharraf of Pakistan is wondering about the Democrats right now. Will Britain be next, because, after all, Richard ‘I love my shoes’ Reid is British, and there were up to nine Britons held at Gitmo?
As a non-American who has no say in whether the Dems or the GOP gets in to the White House, I welcome those who paint a picture of tolerance, not xenophobia. This is where the Democrats got so many brownie points two years ago—and where the Republicans did not win many international “hearts and minds”. In New Zealand, there were expatriate Americans proud to display their Kerry–Edwards banners. (I saw no one display a Bush–Cheney one.)
I realize that if you are a diehard Democrat, you are unlikely to switch sides due to this mess; and the same applies to diehard Republicans. However, as a superpower, the eyes of the world watch. And this one incident makes us wonder just how globally minded either party is. Patriot Act on one side. Xenophobia on the other. Keep up the political pettiness, and we might begin to remember that Secretary Rice is multilingual.
Del.icio.us tags: Democrats | Republicans | politics | globalization | branding | USA | xenophobia Posted by Jack Yan, 21:49
The above post was merely about perception, not endorsing any particular political view. For the two sides of the political argument, this link (found on Johnnie Moore’s blogroll) may be instructive.
An extra link on Corpwatch.org, on how the deal is actually about globalization, not security.
I am an American and I worked for the Kerry campaign. I'd like to consider myself a democrat but there's only so much I can do to wrest the party away from fools. I am disgusted that the Dems have stooped to fear-mongering. Read my post if you like. http://arizonaprogressive.blogspot.com
forgive me I'm a blogging rookie
# posted by Benjamin Eric Kalt: 2/26/2006 03:34:00 PM
Ben, it’s wonderful to hear from you and no apologies are necessary—I’m not a rookie to blogging overall, but I am a rookie when it comes to running my own blog (ﬁve weeks). I want this blog to share viewpoints and yours is very interesting.Post a Comment
I am concerned about how the United States is perceived overall, since it is a superpower and its decisions inﬂuence the rest of us. And, like you, I share this concern—in my other posts I highlight the work done by Messrs Clinton and Gore, and there’s a tremendous amount of goodwill from both gentlemen that the Democratic Party can trade on. However, using the same fear tactics as what the current administration does when it cites its rationale for the Patriot Act—perceived externally by some as a sign of America removing personal liberties—should be worrying. I hope my post sparks some debate for both Republicans and Democrats (if the viewpoint of one non-voter 7,000 miles away counts).
I will pop by your post right after I type. I have some very close friends in your state.
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