Chicago Sun-Times
Discussions across the racial divide

Al-Qaida plays the "mammy" of all race cards

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It's amazing how far a well-used slur can travel.

When Al-Qaida's second highest-ranking leader called President-Elect Barack Obama an "abeed al-beit", which translates into a "house slave" or "house negro," you would have thought he was standing on the corner of 47th Street about 40 years ago.

Everybody's talking.

Ayman al-Zawahri put secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice in the same category with Obama, and labeled them "house negroes" as well.

That phrase has been thrown around a lot since Malcolm X first used it to describe black leaders who refused to stand up against white racists. At that time those were darn near fighting words.

Decades later, actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte's use of the racial slur to condemn Powell and Rice for going along with George W.'s War on Iraq was barely noticed since blacks overwhelmingly opposed the war.

If Al-Qaida wants to insult Obama, it has to do a lot better than that. Given his mixed-raced heritage, upbringing in a white household, and Harvard education, the President-Elect has been called a lot worst.

Besides, Obama isn't going to the White House to serve the man. He is the man.

Still, al-Zawahri made the point Obama has been trying to make for the past two years.

Maybe now, Americans who are still insisting that Obama is a Muslim can stop flaunting their ignorance.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on November 19, 2008 3:26 PM.

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