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Commentary: So what if Obama were a Muslim or an Arab?

  • Story Highlights
  • Campbell Brown says McCain right to set the record straight about Obama
  • We've all been too quick to accept that calling someone Muslim is a slur, she says
  • Brown asks why being an Arab-American should be a disqualifier for higher office
  • We need to distinguish between radical Muslims and the rest, she says
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By Campbell Brown
CNN
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Editor's note: Campbell Brown anchors CNN's "Campbell Brown: Election Center" at 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays. She delivered this commentary during the "Cutting through the Bull" segment of Monday night's broadcast.

Campbell Brown says it's on the record that Sen. Barack Obama is a Christian, but why should that matter?

Campbell Brown says it's on the record that Sen. Barack Obama is a Christian, but why should that matter?

NEW YORK (CNN) -- You may find it hard to believe that this remains an issue in this campaign, but it does.

The candidates, both candidates, are still getting questions about Barack Obama's ethnicity and religion. If you are even semi-informed, then by now you already know that of course, Barack Obama is an American.

Of course, Barack Obama is a Christian. Yet just a few days ago, there was a woman at a rally for John McCain incorrectly calling Obama an Arab:

Woman at rally: I don't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's an Arab.

Sen. John McCain: No ma'am, no ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That's what this campaign is all about. He's not, thank you.

'No bias, no bull'
Get the latest on the presidential race on "Campbell Brown: Election Center."
8 ET Monday through Friday on CNN

Now, I commend Sen. McCain for correcting that woman, for setting the record straight. But I do have one question -- so what if he was?

So what if Obama was Arab or Muslim? So what if John McCain was Arab or Muslim? Would it matter?

When did that become a disqualifier for higher office in our country? When did Arab and Muslim become dirty words? The equivalent of dishonorable or radical?

Whenever this gets raised, the implication is that there is something wrong with being an Arab-American or a Muslim. And the media is complicit here, too. Video Watch Campbell's commentary »

We've all been too quick to accept the idea that calling someone Muslim is a slur.

I feel like I am stating the obvious here, but apparently it needs to be said: There is a difference between radical Muslims who support jihad against America and Muslims who want to practice their religion freely and have normal lives like anyone else. iReport.com: iReporter pleads with voters to 'stop the racism'

There are more than 1.2 million Arab-Americans and about 7 million Muslim-Americans, former Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, successful business people, normal average Americans from all walks of life.

These are the people being maligned here, and we can only imagine how this conversation plays in the Muslim world. We can't tolerate this ignorance -- not in the media, not on the campaign trail.

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Of course, he's not an Arab. Of course, he's not a Muslim. But honestly, it shouldn't matter.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

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