You can say this about the McCain campaign, whenever you think they’ve hit rock bottom they still manage to surprise you by going even lower. Last week there was the email warning that a President Obama could lead to a second Holocaust. Now there is the curious attack on Obama’s friendship with the respected Arab-American historian Rashid Khalidi, likened by John McCain to a “neo-Nazi.”
We should be clear about this: since the death of Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi has been the pre-eminent Arab-American intellectual. He is a small-d democrat. If the United States is serious in its goal of spreading democracy and peace in the Middle East (a big if), then it needs to work with respected figures like Khalidi. And indeed in an earlier life, John McCain was well aware of this fact, since he steered money to a research institute founded by Khalidi.
By smearing Khalidi as a “neo-Nazi” McCain is basically saying, “if you are an Arab, no matter how accomplished or decent you may be, you can never be a good American.”
Spencer Ackerman makes exactly the right point on this issue: to libel a scholar like Khalidi as a big scary terrorist Arab monster is nothing less than racism.