The hounding of Barack Obama's Arab and Muslim American liaison is reminiscent of times that community thought it surpassed, writes James Zogby
The 1980s were a difficult time for Arab Americans. Politicians returned our contributions, rejected our endorsements, and many effectively hung "No Arab Americans allowed" signs on their campaign doors. Back then, we wrote about this situation, calling it "the politics of exclusion".
We fought back. We organised, worked hard, and we emerged victorious -- or should I say somewhat victorious? Now I feel a bit tentative about our progress because of what happened to Mazen Asbahi, which set off alarm bells causing me to wonder whether or not "exclusion" might not once again be rearing its ugly head.
For those who don't know, here's what happened. On 25 July the Barack Obama campaign announced the appointment of Asbahi to further their outreach efforts to Arab Americans and American Muslims. As a young though accomplished corporate attorney, Asbahi was largely unknown in both communities. He quickly acclimated himself to his post, contacting leaders and activists nationwide both to introduce himself and to develop ways to include them in the Obama campaign.