Curiousity Must Have a Voice

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By Chalan Moon

http://www.walrusmagazine.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/obamakenya.jpg

Curiosity serves the interest of those seeking knowledge and truth.
Discovery relies on initiation. One decision can snowball into
revelation of either devastating or miraculous proportions. The pursuit
of knowledge and foresight takes one step and becomes addicted.

And so it was that I discovered just how misinformed our country is. In perusing Facebook
groups that my friends had recently joined, a distinct pattern
developed: Barack must be our president to avoid more Bush rhetoric,
and McCain/Palin suffer from the puppetry of Karl Rove. You've heard it all. But where were the McCain groups? I knew that the 'I Hate Barack Obama' advocates were out in the digital world, fevently regurgitating the rhetoric they heard from Fox News and Sean Hannity.

I opened Pandora's Box.

It only took one peek into one group
before I started messaging people that had posted particularly
malevolent and/or ill conceived comments. One person wrote, at length,
that if Senator Obama
were to be elected president, we would have our first Arab-American
president, not Black. They went on to give detail about the senator's
heritage and how 'Baracka' and 'Hussein' are Arabic words. My message
was respectful, but my tongue is sore from repeated biting. I informed
her that she was partly right on the Arabic origins of his name, but
completely wrong on his heritage. Courteously, like a teacher might
explain, I detailingly informed the individual that Senator Obama's
father was from Kenya and the national language
of that country is Swahili. Swahili is a very unique language in that
it has shared trading routes with Arab speaking communities for
centuries. Through language borrowing, Swahili
borrowed many words from Arabic for things the people of Swahili
speaking countries did not have. In all, approximately 50% of Swahili
is borrowed Arabic words, but the borrowings abide to Swahili grammar,
not Arabic.

I then told her that an 'Arab' is defined as someone with Arabic as
their first language and being from a nation with Arabic as its official
language. It has nothing--nothing--to do with Islam, or being Muslim.
This confusion surprises me. It's no different than assuming that
Americans are evangelical. Furthermore, I reminded her that a name is
hardly relevant to a candidates ability to preside. If anything, it
highlights racist undertones.

So, my call is to you, the reader. Stop these people by being the
voice needed. And if you do so, don't insult them. Resist calling them
names. That is typically their game and we can be better than that.
Inform the world with polite smiles throughout and their anger will
only reveal their vulnerability.

Please contact these people and let them know where they are wrong.
Provide them with links to websites where they can find referenced
data. It is all our responsibility to run this nation. It has never
just been up to one man. The current turmoil rests on the shoulders of
the world.

The cited website of the Facebook user: http://www.arcadeathome.com/newsboy.phtml?Barack_Hussein_Obama_-_Arab-American,_only_6.25%_African

The address of the Facebook group (there are several): http://www.new.facebook.com/wall.php?id=2363253979&page=1&hash=0d5b5843b61991893f2903ccd281f79c