McCain’s comparison of Obama knowing Rashid Khalidi to a “neo-Nazi” meeting is disgusting, and I’m sure it’s now getting more attention in the American press than the fallout of the American Special Forces raid on Syria. Save for the New York Times blinkered story, filed from New York, cribbing off the AP’s reporter here in Damascus, about yesterday orchestrated, peaceful but vocal and undeniably angry protest against the raid. For much better reporting, try the BBC’s Paul Wood.
Juan Cole has a long comment with many useful links on the bigotry of the attacks on Khalidi. As he writes:
McCain’s and Palin’s attacks on Khalidi are frankly racist. He is a distinguished scholar, and the only objectionable thing about him from a rightwing point of view is that he is a Palestinian. There are about 9 million Palestinians in the world (a million or so are Israeli citizens; 3.7 million are stateless and without rights under Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza; and 4 million are refugees or exiled in the diaspora; there are about 200,000 Palestinian-Americans, and several million Arab-Americans, many living in swing vote states). Khalidi was not, as the schlock rightwing press charges, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was an adviser at the Madrid peace talks, but would that not have been, like, a good thing?
Scott Horton at Harper’s writes pointedly about the demise of the conservatives at the National Review and their madhouse, Red Scare take on Obama “knowing” Khalidi.
Of course, Khalidi has been involved in Palestinian causes. McCarthy ought to ask John McCain about that, because McCain and Khalidi appear to have some joint interests, and that fact speaks very well of both of them. Indeed, the McCain–Khalidi connections are more substantial than the phony Obama–Khalidi connections McCarthy gussies up for his article. The Republican party’s congressionally funded international-networking organization, the International Republican Institute–long and ably chaired by John McCain and headed by McCain’s close friend, the capable Lorne Craner–has taken an interest in West Bank matters. IRI funded an ambitious project, called the Palestine Center, that Khalidi helped to support. Khalidi served on the Center’s board of directors. The goal of that project, shared by Khalidi and McCain, was the promotion of civic consciousness and engagement and the development of democratic values in the West Bank. Of course, McCarthy is not interested in looking too closely into the facts, because they would not serve his shrill partisan objectives.
I have a suggestion for Andy McCarthy and his Hyde Park project. If he really digs down deep enough, he will come up with a Hyde Park figure who stood in constant close contact with Barack Obama and who, unlike Ayers and Khalidi, really did influence Obama’s thinking about law, government, and policy. He is to my way of thinking a genuine radical. His name is Richard Posner, and he appears to be the most frequently and positively cited judge and legal academic in… National Review.
And the nutjobs are about to combust.
I remember seeing Khalidi last spring at a protest at Columbia, marking the 5 year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Like the assembled faculty, he shouted into a megaphone and looked pretty satisfied with himself; he was even wearing aviator sunglasses. It was a bright day in April. The most ridiculous thing about these attacks on Khalidi is how “moderate” (a really unfortunate word) his views on Israel and Palestine really are. What if Norman Finkelstein had been at Chicago and chatted up Obama?