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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 8, 2008

Written by C.N.

Excuse Me? “That One?”

My wife and I just finished watching the second debate between Obama and McCain and I feel compelled to write about what I thought was the one moment that stood out the most for me in the entire debate — when McCain called Obama “That one.”

McCain seemed intent on belittling Obama all night, which by itself is very disrespectful and juvenile. But it was about halfway through the debate and McCain was talking about environmental policies when he said something to the effect, “You know who voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill? That one!”

Excuse me?!? “That one?!?”

Mr. McCain, please tell us what exactly did you mean by calling Senator Obama “That one?”

Here’s my guess — deep down, McCain really wanted to call Obama “That boy” or even worse, “That nigger.”

In other words, calling Senator Obama “That one” goes way beyond being impolite or even condescending — it was downright racist.

We all know no one wants to openly talk about the undercurrent issue of race, but whether we like it or not, race has stuck its head into the campaign in so many ways — from recurring references to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s comments, to lingering beliefs that Obama is really a Muslim terrorist, to outright and direct incidents of racial discrimination against Obama’s campaign.

It’s within this context that we might begin to understand where John McCain is coming from, and some of the unconscious motives he may have had for referring to Obama as “That one.” We know that he is trailing in almost all polls and that he is slowly watching his claim to be our next President slip away.

And we also know that when people feel cornered and threatened, they become desperate, and when they become desperate, they revert to basic emotional instincts — like believing that his opponent is nothing more than a glorified house slave, certainly not worthy of being on the same social level as him, or even being a “real” American.

What else could he have meant by calling Obama “That one?”

In case you did not already know, there has been much discussion about John McCain’s use of the racial slur “gooks” when he used that term back in the 2000 presidential campaign in talking about his North Vietnamese communist captors when he was a prisoner of war: “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

So in other words, McCain has a history of racial prejudice. It is also clear from watching his interactions in Obama’s presence that he clearly has a lot of contempt for Obama. I’m sure much of it has to do with the adversarial position they’re in as competitors to be the next President. But ultimately, there is a racial component to his contempt as well — that he, as a White person, is getting beat by a Black person.

In a desperate fight for political survival, just like his desperate fight for his physical survival almost 40 years ago, he has apparently showed us his true colors by derogatorily dehumanizing Obama and calling him “That one.”


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Excuse Me? “That One?”" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2008/10/excuse-me-that-one/> ().

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