The View from the Middle East – Consortiumnews

Being on the deadly end of his policies, many Arabs view John McCain in a very different way than the U.S. mass media has presented him.  

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News

It is not unusual that Arabs and Americans look at the same event from divergent lenses. Take, for instance, a scene from John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign when he told  a woman in the audience who had called Obama an Arab: “No, Ma`am. He is not an Arab. He’s a decent family man.” 

That brief exchange has been tweeted and retweeted thousands of time in the last few days following McCain’s death. It has been promoted by people in mainstream media (and think tanks and academia) as evidence of the civility, “classiness”, and lack of prejudice of McCain.  Yet, Arabs saw something entirely different in that exchange.  They saw bigotry from McCain, who was denying that Obama was Arab in the same way one denies that someone is a Nazi.  He clearly implied that an Arab can’t be a decent family man.  In fact, Gen. Colin Powell was the only U.S. politician who pointed this out at the time.  But a new image of McCain is being formulated before our eyes.

For Arabs in the Middle East and in the U.S., the view of McCain does not conform to the hagiography of U.S. media.  People in the region remember well that McCain supported every U.S. and Israeli war, invasion, or attack against any Arab target. They remember that he was a major proponent of invading Iraq and argued for the expansion of U.S. wars into Iran, Libya and Syria in the wake of Sep. 11. 

The destruction of Mosul. (Wikimedia Commons)

While the Washington director of Human Rights Watch was writing tributes to McCain, Arabs were remembering him as a champion of Middle East dictators (except those on bad terms with the U.S. and Israel.) It was not a coincidence that both the official Saudi regime lobby in DC and AIPAC promptly released emotional eulogies for McCain. The English-language, Arab Times (a mouthpiece of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman) dedicated a special issue to him.

McCain never wavered in his conformity with AIPAC’s agenda.  He never had disagreements with the…

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