Tag: Presidential Election

CommentaryImmigration NewsLatinoLos Angeles

The Inside Scoop on La Raza and Latino Outreach by the Presidential Candidates

Despite appearances and poll numbers, neither presidential candidate has a lock on the Latino vote. The National Council of La Raza convention in San Diego, which just ended yesterday (7/15/08), showed that both candidates have to overcome a strong measure of doubt among Latinos – Obama because of his race and the bitter primary battle, and McCain because of his backtracking on immigration reform.

Obama appeared first, on Sunday, and McCain the next day. They were both well received but not with the same fervor: Obama got a bigger crowd, strongest applause, and two times more press.

By the time McCain came around on Monday, the press corps was diminished greatly, many activists didn’t show up for lunch –the overflow room that was full on Sunday was virtually empty on Monday- and the excitement level had noticeably dropped.

It’s completely anecdotal evidence, of course, but it shows that the Latino groups and activist crowd that usually attend the NCLR conferences support what the polls are saying. The latest Gallup Poll of Latinos shows a 30 point difference in support between Obama and McCain. Obama is getting close to 60 percent and McCain has about 29 percent. (more…)

Immigration News

Bringing Back the Nightly News… en Espanol

Spanish-language media giant Univisión announced last week that its local evening newscasts in Los Angeles and New York were the first- and second most-watched local broadcasts nationwide among all viewers in any language in the coveted 18-to-49 age bracket (otherwise known as the media’s Holy Grail).

The announcement is especially striking given the continued shrinking viewership of traditional English-language nightly newscasts produced by local affiliates of ABC, CBS, and NBC.

On any given night, KMEX, the Los Angeles Univision affiliate, dwarfs its English- language competitors with evening newscasts that draw 331,000 viewers. The closest English-language newscast in the same area lags KMEX by more than 70,000 viewers.

In recent years, Spanish-language stations (including Telemundo, owned by NBC-Universal) have consistently had the most viewers in cities with large immigrant populations such as Los Angeles and New York.
(more…)

ArabImmigration News

Obama and Muslims: Part II

By Aswini Anburajan

We began blogging about Barack Obama’s troubled relations with Muslims and Arab-Americans yesterday. Today the headline in The New York Times reads “Muslim Voters Detect a Snub From Obama.” The article, which has an interview with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress, says the campaign has repeatedly snubbed the Muslim community’s efforts to reach out to the campaign. The Obama campaign counters that Sen. Obama has spoken favorably about Muslims and recorded a radio ad for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), the second Muslim elected to Congress. In an interview with ’60 Minutes,’ Mr. Obama said the rumors (that he is a Muslim) were offensive to American Muslims because they played into “fearmongering.” But on a new section of his Web site, he classifies the claim as a “smear.” “A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way,” Rep. Ellison said.

The criticism comes as the Obama campaign has ramped up its push to court Christians and Evangelicals, to the consternation of other religious groups. The Wall Street Journal quotes Tony Kutayli, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and himself a Christian: “There have been some concerns that courting Christians could alienate voters from other faiths, like Jews and Muslims. And the fact that Obama’s new anti-smear website has taken such pains to discredit the allegation that he is a Muslim, and therefore somehow linked to radical Islamism, could offend Muslim voters. If he were a Muslim, so what? That insinuates that if he were a Muslim, he’s automatically a jihadist. That’s incredibly insulting to people of the Muslim faith and Arabs who are Christian.”

Meanwhile a new site launched by Obama’s campaign, Fightthesmears.com, has drawn criticism from Salon.com. Rather than fighting smears, Salon says the new page plays into fears and gives legitimacy to a rumor that should be in the category of too false, too outlandish and too impolite to repeat.

Salon continues, “Late last week Barack Obama’s campaign launched Fight the Smears, a Web site that aims to put a lid on the chain e-mail-based rumors that have menaced the Senator’s presidential bid since its inception. By now you’re probably familiar with the smears in question: Obama is secretly a Muslim, he refuses to pledge allegiance to the flag, he was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on a Quran, and his terrorist-fist-jabbbing wife has taken to calling people ‘whitey.’ As political rumors go, these are of a piece with John McCain’s illegitimate black baby: Too ugly for polite company, the stories thrive on e-mail and talk-radio hearsay, and though they’re trivial to debunk (the truth is just a Web search away), the lies seem possessed of uncanny sticking power. Polls show belief in the Obama-is-a-Muslim rumor now hovers at around 10 to 13 percent, up from single digits last December.”

ArabImmigration News

Lifting the veil on Obama's relations with Arab-Americans

The sharp outcry last week after two Muslim women wearing headscarves were told they couldn’t appear behind Senator Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Detroit, has raised questions about the credibility and motivations of Obama’s post-racial, multi-ethnic message and appeal.

On June 18th two Muslim women separately reported that they were told they could not appear on stage behind Obama because they had headscarves on. Obama later called the women to personally apologize, and his campaign released a statement saying that the actions by the Obama volunteers who barred the women was unacceptable and went against the spirit of his campaign.

The incident was picked up by the national press, some calling the move hypocrisy, while others pointed out that the campaign has had to tread a tightrope between combating rumors and perceptions that Obama is a Muslim and at the same time not appearing to denigrate Muslims or Islam with his disavowals.

The reaction in the Arab press has been louder, harsher and more impassioned. A scathing column by Ray Hanania posted on the Arab Writers Group went so far as to allege a tacit agreement between the press and the Obama campaign to report the incident without a sense of outrage. Hanania called the incident an act of “racism.” He claimed that if the same thing had happened at a McCain event there would have been a loud outcry in the media.

To underscore that sentiment a political cartoon released to Arab newspapers by Hanania and David Kish shows Obama telling a crowd that there are many differences between him and Sen. John McCain. The following panel shows a volunteer telling two women in headscarves that they can’t be seen. The cartoon ends with a thought bubble over Obama’s head that reads: “Then again maybe not so many.”

While reporting on the incident has focused on the motivations and tactics of the campaign, it has neglected to delve into whether Obama’s candidacy may be raising the level of interest and participation in the political process by Muslims and Arab-Americans.

While there’s no concrete evidence to suggest that Obama’s candidacy has galvanized Arab or Muslim voters, there are attempts within the community to increase political participation. The Arab American Institute has launched “Our Voice. Our Vote. Yalla Vote ’08.” to bring issues related to the Arab-American community to the forefront in 2008.

“Like all Americans, we’re concerned about the economy and education, about health care and home prices. But there are a host of other issues that are impacting our community more deeply and more personally than any others: issues like civil liberties, immigration, and our country’s foreign policies,” Dr. James Zogby, of the Arab American Institute said in a statement.

The group is planning to put organizers on the ground in key states, and plans to monitor political races on all levels to help advance an agenda that reflects Arab-American concerns.

It’s easy to see how Muslim voters would be attracted to a candidate with family members who are Muslim, whose father comes from Kenya, and who spent his early years in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation. But is the appeal of Obama’s personal story outweighed by his campaign’s efforts to downplay his Muslim roots? For Arab and Muslim voters incidents like the one in Detroit last week could end up linking Obama to what some in the Muslim community allege is a long-standing bias by American politicians and the mainstream media against Muslims and Arabs in this country.

Michigan will be a battleground in 2008, and has one of the largest Arab and Muslim populations in the country. In a tight election the Arab vote could be a significant factor.