Michael J. Totten shoots down the myth that Obama will improve things between the USA and Arabs.
In fact, Secretary Rice really does believe that African-Americans and Arabs have something in common, which is why she has likened, for better or worse, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to Martin Luther King, Jr. and thrown all her weight behind a Palestinian state that only she seems to believe in at this point. She hasn’t gotten much credit for her efforts, or her race for that matter. When she was named Secretary of State, the Saudi press outdid themselves in lampooning the first black woman to serve as America’s top diplomat.
“They exaggerated her features and were amazingly crude and disrespectful in showing her body,” Peter Theroux told me. Theroux was asked to serve under Rice as Persian Gulf director from 2003-2005 when she was the National Security Adviser. “One cartoon from the daily Al-Watan showed her as a boxer with boxing gloves, hitting a punching bag shaped like an Arab; with her wearing some form-fitting thing that showed the shape of her breasts. You never, ever see Saudi newspaper cartoons show any woman that way, let alone a senior official in an allied government. But with Rice being black, and a woman, an infidel, and wielding power – I think that just pushed them over the edge.”
I was in Beirut when she first traveled there as Secretary in the summer of 2005 to show her support for an Arab society that had just come out of fifteen years of Syrian occupation. The pro-Syrian opposition protested her visit, including Hezbollah supporters who marched with placards that would have made a Klansman proud – “N——r,” read one sign with a picture of Ms. Rice’s face, “go home.”