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Racism in the race

October 22, 2008

Re "Three wrongs don't make a right," Opinion, Oct. 19

Although John McCain is probably not a racist, his campaign has clearly utilized negative racial imagery to impugn Barack Obama's character. A McCain TV ad features images of Obama and Franklin Raines -- an African American who retired four years ago as an executive at Fannie Mae -- followed by a picture of an elderly white female "victim" of a mortgage scam. The fact that Raines, who is not an Obama advisor, was chosen for the ad instead of Jim Johnson, a white Fannie Mae executive who is closely associated with Obama, indicates a choice to depict black people as unethical and white people as their victims.

Both Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have called Obama un-American; a uniformed sheriff at a recent rally emphasized Obama's middle name, Hussein, as though it were a dirty word.

When Colin Powell endorsed Obama, some Republicans accused him of doing so based on race. Has anyone ever said that Joe Lieberman supports McCain because they are both white males?

Jeffrey Ellis

Los Angeles

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Nicholas Goldberg sidesteps the issue of race-baiting. He is looking only at historically significant African American stereotyping without realizing that race-baiting can go far beyond a single group.

The majority of the race-baiting in the election has had nothing to do with black stereotypes. It has been aimed at stoking anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiment and linking Obama to those fears. This has been done through false Internet rumors calling him a Muslim or Arab. It has continued with the specious linking of Obama to terrorists.

Republicans have switched tactics from anti-black race-baiting -- which would not work well with the average voter -- to stoking fears of Arab fundamentalism and terrorism. They are fostering a dangerous situation in which hate crimes become acceptable.

Arab Americans deserve our respect for adding to the wonderful diversity of this country. They do not need to hear McCain supporters shouting threats that are aimed as much at them as at Obama.

Fredrick Bertz

Van Nuys

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