Speaking as a raghead--or half a raghead anyway, I have to say I'm heartened by the response from across the blogosphere's political spectrum regarding Ann Coulter's remark at CPAC.
According to Ryan Sager
Ann Coulter proposes a new "post-9/11 rule":
"Rag-head talks tough, rag-head faces consequences."
Ann Coulter would consider herself a conservative, but a wide range of conservative writers and bloggers have criticized and/or condemned this remark, among them Jonah Goldberg
, Will Collier
, Michelle Malkin
, Sean Hackbarth
, Rick Moran
, James Joyner
, and others. It's nice to see.
I can't say the same for some other comments I've read, though, many of them as responses to those bloggers I listed above. Many root her on. Several wrote that it's okay to use such a term, since "they" want to cut everyone's head off. Never mind that the term is a slur against an entire ethnicity (really multiple ethnicities), only a small percentage of which are interested in decapitating people.
Other commenters write that "raghead" is only intended to refer to Muslim terrorists. This is like saying that "dago" only refers to Mafia hitmen, or that when you say "nigger" you don't mean "the good ones" (I've heard that one a lot in my time, unfortunately).
In my experience, "raghead" is a general term of disparagement for Arabs, or perhaps more accurately persons of Middle Eastern descent. It's certainly not as bad as "sand nigger," which I've heard more than once too, but it's nevertheless a slur, right about at the level of "camel jockey." That's how everyone intended it who ever used it around me, anyway.
I've never been called that to my face, mind you; I'm half Arab, and look vaguely Mediterranean, and I suppose these friends and acquaintances don't even think about it half the time. Some never realize what they've said, and others have realized and apologized.
I've always tried to just forget about it. I have yet to succeed.
That's not to say I don't forgive, or that I bear those people any ill will. I still call some of them friends. And in weak moments, I've made a few stupid, disparaging generalizations myself. I seriously doubt there's anyone who hasn't. One quick glance at history will tell us that it's a tendency we've been battling forever. So an offhand slur isn't worth getting very worked up over. We are all of us sinners, or so the book says.
Ethnic slurs are bad because they foment stereotyping and prejudice against an entire group of people based purely on their DNA. From what I know, there's never been a race or ethnicity whose DNA was evil. On the other hand, there have been lots of wholly evil individuals from all races, ethnicities, religions, and walks of life, evil because of the choices they made, the actions they took; Islamist terrorists are such individuals, and they deserve to be condemned along with all other evil persons.As I've said before
, I can't speak for Muslim Arabs. I don't know any. I imagine most want peace. But there are plenty of Arabs who aren't even Muslim. In this country, close to 75% of Arabs are Christian
, and many have been here for three generations or more.
I'm one of those such people: a half-Arab, non-Muslim, third-generation American. A few strands of DNA are all I have in common with Islamist terrorists. I find their actions despicable and abhorrent.
Don't lump me in with them.
Let's not sink to the level of those we're fighting against. And thanks again to everyone who isn't.