Democrats and Republicans both know how to appeal to the great mass of ignorant Americans. Bigotry is always a winner for politicians. It keeps them from having to do their jobs and aids in covering their wrongdoing.
The people that are now most acceptable to hate and fear are Arabs. All Arabs have been depicted as terrorists, and the word "terrorist" is now exclusively connected with Arabs. It therefore follows that no Middle Easterner should have anything to do with security at an American seaport.
When right wing icon Ann Coulter uses terms like "raghead" at conservative gatherings, she gets applause. Of course this demonization presents a problem when the powerful are cutting deals with wealthy, well-connected "ragheads."
No one actually admits to anti-Arab bigotry. Ever since the announcement that several American ports would be taken over by Dubai Ports World, a business run by the United Arab Emirates, howls of outrage have been nearly unanimous and unanimously phony.
American politics being what it is, very few are upset for the right reason. Does it really matter that major American ports are now protected by an Arab country? We are told that the United Arab Emirate is a terrorist haven, that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers spent time there and that it is al-Qaeda's banking address.
The arguments are unconvincing. Some of the hijackers spent time in Germany. Has the United States stopped doing deals with Germany? If al-Qaeda cash came through Dubai, it's because it is an international center of money laundering.
Are any of the Democrats pointing fingers at George W. Bush really concerned about the cronyism and the business-as-usual corruption that preceded the port deal? Treasury Secretary John Snow was formerly the CEO of the railroad company, CSX. After Snow left CSX for Washington, the company sold its international port operations to Dubai Ports World for more than $1 billion. Yet another extraordinarily profitable coincidence for the Bush team.
While governors and senators file suit to make America safe from Dubai, they say nothing about the corruption that has stolen American tax dollars for the Halliburton and Bechtel corporations to pretend to rebuild Iraq and New Orleans. They say nothing about the UAE corruption that preceded the ports deal.
It seems the United Arab Emirates are very generous indeed. On Sept. 21, 2005, the UAE gave the United States government $100 million to aid in Hurricane Katrina recovery. The State Department claims that two-thirds of the donation was sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid 100,000 families and the remainder was given to the federal Department of Education to rebuild schools.
A few weeks later, Dubai Ports World approached U.S. officials about buying London Peninsular, the British company that controlled the ports. A State Department spokesperson tried to assure the skeptics among us that there was no connection between the two events.
We are told to believe that the UAE gave the feds $100 million and within three weeks requested purchase of the port security firm, yet the two events are not related.
While Democrats express phony outrage about port security, Osama bin Laden issues warning after warning. He says he won't be taken alive and he continues to demand that the United States get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. While politicians fight for air time to denounce the port deal, al-Qaeda is in all likelihood making good on bin Laden's threat to conduct another attack on American soil. History will probably show that port security hysteria wasted precious time that could have been used to save lives.
If the next attack is anything like Sept. 11, there will be no investigation in Congress, and no investigative journalism. Bush will get credit for being strong on defense when terrorism happens on his watch. His buddies from Dubai or Dallas will be sitting pretty and he can smirk and relax as he watches another Republican inaugural in January 2009.
Democrats will look on and take solace that they spoke up when Arabs became cronies, too.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly at www.blackcommentator.com.