Friday, July 08, 2005

floating redux

google news is now turning up around 10-11 stories about the chesterton bin laden float. most just reprint variations of the same ap wire story that was in the indystar (though it's now been picked up by the chicago sun-times.

none of them have any photos, although we know that photos exist:

“Maybe they didn’t mean anything racist, but if I saw that coming down the street, I would have been offended,” said Tarek Shahbandar, who was shown a photo of the float Tuesday at the Northwest Indiana Islamic Center in Crown Point.

i couldn't find a website for either the northwest islamic center in crown point or the "supporters of the military" organization. so no luck finding photos (i'll post one if i ever find one), which seems like poor reporting considering that a large part of this story revolves around whether the character in float was obviously osama or whether it was just some middle-eastern guy in chains and bloody clothes. in contrast, there's a nice big cute photo attached to this story about "Sunday's pet parade at the Tri-Town 4th of July Celebration at Dogwood Park in Chesterton".

the ap stories also don't contain the juicy "ragheads" quote from penny kozinski, which i thought was the juiciest part of the whole article (other than the bin laden float itself, of course). maybe the ap just didn't get that quote before they sent out the wire story? because it's hard to see why they would intentionally cut the most telling quote in the whole article (that is, unless they cut it so kozinski wouldn't look quite so bad).

so far the only articles to include that quote are the ones hosted by which is a shame because on rereading it, i realized it was even more telling than i originally thought:

Kozinski said: "He was looking like an Arab, Iraqi, terrorist, whatever you want to call these people. I call them ragheads."

at first i was simply shocked that she was so ignorant that she would actually use a slur like "ragheads" while trying to defend herself and her organization against accusations of racism. i mean, that's just terrible PR, and "supporters of the military" seems damn lucky that the quote has not gotten more attention than it has (though the story could still pick up from here).

but on deeper read, what struck me was this juxtaposition: "Arab, Iraqi, terrorist... raghead". the "whatever you want to call these people" line suggests that these words are functionally equivalent. arab = iraqi = terrorist = raghead. same difference! "ragheads" isn't the only important word there: "terrorist" tells us a lot too. the fact that kozinski tosses that in there suggests that she's fallen for bush's "if you ain't with us" frame: anyone who defies the US presence in iraq or afghanistan is a "terrorist", as w repeatedly tried to convince us on tv a couple weeks back. not just that, but "arab, iraqi, terrorist" suggests that she doesn't see much difference at all between terrorists and normal everyday arabs or iraqi citizens. adding "ragheads" to the end is just the cherry on top of the dehumanization process.

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