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Hate, stereotypes taint speech

October 17, 2008

Re " 'Muslim' shouldn't be a slur," Opinion, Oct. 15

Thanks to Constance L. Rice for pointing out a glaring double standard when it comes to acceptance of hate speech and racism directed at Muslims and Arabs.

Yes, the McCain campaign is guilty of fomenting bigotry through harsh rhetoric and coded personal attacks on Barack Obama. But the media must also share the blame for legitimizing the use of bigoted language by providing a platform for right-wing pundits and organizations to spread their racist message.

Serious attention and an honest debate are needed concerning this growing racism and xenophobia directed at Arabs and Muslims.

Khaled Galal

San Francisco

John McCain's faux pas in replying to the statement, "He's an Arab," has its roots in the way impromptu discourse works. One interlocutor is cornered with a comment or question for which he or she has not prepared, forcing a reply that, because of its immediacy, is found to be insensitive or inappropriate. In McCain's case, his reply fed directly into what we all know his questioner implied: the association of Arabs and Muslims with fundamentalism, terrorism and the events of 9/11.

In an elaborated statement, McCain could have used the opportunity to deplore stereotypes that obstruct social tolerance. But, alas, he was caught off-guard and, trying his best to appear unbiased, he came up with a reply that under different circumstances would have sounded like an objective, even kind, assessment of his opponent's character.

Because one learns from mistakes, I'm sure that McCain will from now on take Rice's suggestion: "There is no room in my campaign or in America for religious or ethnic intolerance." This sounds good and complies with the political correctness of our times.

Berta

Graciano-Buchman

Beverly Hills

Re "Muslim candidate reports death threat," Oct. 10

How would Irvine City Councilman Steven Choi feel if someone attacked him on the basis of his ethnic or religious background?

For Choi to attack another candidate because of his Muslim faith is hateful and un-American. There are other ways to win an election than to use the race or religion card. How about running on character? It seems really questionable at this point.

Karena Bui

Lake Forest

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