Sexism and Racism on the Campaign Trail

This year has been one most interesting election years in my years of voting.  The primaries with divervse views represented by Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul.  The contest for the nomination between Hillary and Obama.  The resurrection of McCain in the Republican race.  The emergence of Sarah Palin.  This election season has gone through so many twists and turns.  I’m excited by these elections because the Obama, Clinton, and even Palin candidacies are breaking down barriers of racism and sexism.  These candidates have faced their share of racism and sexism to break down these barriers and these reactions show how far America has to go to be rid of these vices.

I voted for Hillary during the California primaries, but I have to admit that I didn’t have the same fervor that some of my friends had for Clinton.  My mom, sister in law, and several close friends were Hillary enthusiasts and they were deeply angry at the way Hillary was treated during the primaries.  I’ve always wondered, “How was she treated that would cause such anger among these women?”  An article in the September 13th edition of the Economist titled “The Triumph of Feminism” wrote:

“She not only lost an unlosable primary race.  She was dissed and denounced in the process.  Chris Matthews of MSNBC said that she owed her Senate seat to her husband’s infidelity.  One lobbyist created an anti-Hillary pressure group called Citizens United Not Timid.    A couple of young men ordered her to ‘iron my shirt’.  Mr. McCain, whom she regards as a good friend, looked on benignly when a Republican asked him ‘How do we beat the b____?'”

Hillary handled these things with dignity and composure, but it angered many of her supporters that she would be treated in such a way. 

Obama faced racism during the primaries and into the general election.  Early in the primaries, a rumor was started that he was secretly a Muslim and they pointed to his early schooling in Muslim schools in Asia (this is an example of islamophobia as well as subtle racism, for even if he was a Muslim, how would that make him less qualified to be President?).   Union leaders have had some trouble gathering support with a small group of union members who would not vote for a black man.  Eric Alterman, in an article in the September 1, 2008 issue of the Nation wrote of a more subtle form of racism that is faced by Obama.  Alterman wrote:

“Historically blacks and dark-skinned immigrants have been accused of ‘not knowing their place’ by whites who see their positions challenged, and are deemed to be ‘uppity’.  The code word du jour is ‘presumptuous’.”

Though I disagree with most of Sarah Palin’s political stances, I have to admit that I was captivated as everyone else by her biography of a moose hunting former beauty queen and basketball player and mother of five.  I think criticism of her lack of experience is justified and she should be questioned more on her political views, but I was glad that Obama took the high road and said that Palin’s private family life should be off limits to media scrutiny.   If a male politician is not questioned on whether he has time for both his family and his political life, then Palin shouldn’t be either.  I hope McCain and Palin lose this election, but I’m glad that Palin has stepped onto the national stage.  In the September 15, 2008 issue of Newsweek, Kathleen Deveny wrote as a liberal who found herself liking Palin:

“But if I’m really honest with myself, I’m mostly just happy that there’s another woman on the national political stage.  I think it’s good for my 8 year old daughter, who has called Hillary Clinton her idol.  She doesn’t love Hillary because of her health-care policy or pro-choice stance:  she loves Hillary because she thinks girls rule.  The more powerful women there are on the national stage, the better it is for all women, because this is a game of numbers…  when there are enough women in our political life, maybe we will be able to judge them as individuals, rather than representatives of all things uterine.”

As a person who voted for Hillary during the primaries, I happily support Obama now.  If you compare Obama’s position on major issues (http://www.barackobama.com/issues/) with Hillary’s (http://www.hillaryclinton.com/), they share similar views on how to help America on the economy, on the environment, on weaning ourselves off of our oil dependency, on departing from Iraq, on getting universal health care for every American, for getting a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for a program to give illegal immigrants a chance to gain citizenship, for a middle class tax cut and government stimulus for the economy, for a measured policy in Iraq.  In spite of the barriers, Obama and Hillary’s successful campaigns point to a trend where marginalized and minority groups are gaining a greater percentage of the voting population.  These changing demographics, more than anything else, may do the most to reduce the racism and sexism in this country and to end the Republican success in the national elections.  I end this post with an excerpt from an article in the September 1, 2008 issue of the Nation by Chris Bowers.    Bowers wrote:

“Given that Republicans consolidated a shrinking majority against a series of rising minorities, unless the scapegoating stops, their electoral future appears bleak.  In 1992, Latinos and Asians made up only 3 percent of the electorate, but in 2006 they accounted for 10 percent.  In 1990, according to the National Survey of Religious Identification conducted by the City University of New York, only 10 percent of the country self-identified as non-Christian.  According to a 2001  follow-up from CUNY as well as a 2008 study conducted by the Pew Forum on religion and American life, that number had increased to 22-23 percent of the national population.  Although it receives somewhat less fanfare, the national drift from Christian self identification is changing the cultural face of America even more rapidly than the large influx of Latino and Asian immigrants.  Combined, these two trends are changing the cultural and political structure of America with such alacrity that, according to a 2005 study by Greenberg Quinlin Rosner, ‘OMG!  How Generation Y Is Redefining Faith in the iPod Era,’ only 39 percent of Americans born between 1965 and 1994 (inclusive) self idenify as both white and Christian, compared to 66 percent of Americans born in 1964 or earlier.  Given the partisan voting habits of nonwhites and non-Christians discussed in the previous paragraph, it isn’t hard to see that Republicans are facing a slow-motion electoral tidal wave that is turning the country nearly 1 percent more Democratic every year, regardless of specific political conditions. 

It is from this rising tide that Obama should find his victory.  “

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About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Since my time in college, my goal has been to be a successful children’s book illustrator. I’ve illustrated 3 books: Two Moms the Zark and Me by Johnny Valentine in 1993; Night Travelers by Sue Hill in 1994; and Cherubic Children’s New Classic Story Book Volume 2 for Cherubic Press in 1998. I’ve painted murals for Lester Shields Elementary School in San Jose, the Berryessa branch of the San Jose Public Library, and Grace Community Church in Los Altos. I’ve had a few illustrations published in South Bay Accent Magazine and I will have an illustration published in the January/February issue of Tikkun magazine.
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2 Responses to Sexism and Racism on the Campaign Trail

  1. Jamie Holts says:

    A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks

  2. Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

    The right to education in one’s own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents’ choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

    Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim culture–the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.
    Iftikhar Ahmad
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

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