Malcolm X contrasted "field negroes" who hated their white masters with "house negroes" who, he said, were loyal to them [Message to the grassroots]. Referring explicitly to this speech, Ayman al-Zawahri described President-elect Obama as a "house negro". (Mr al-Zawahri actually used the arabic expression "abeed al-beit, which means "house slave", but this was rendered as "house negro" in the message's English subtitles.) What possible effect is this message supposed to have, in America or in the rest of the world? Or has AlQaeda lost the plot?
- Al-Qaeda plays the race card against Barack Obama … no, seriously (TrainWreckPolitics)
- Al-Qaeda's most epic fail ever (The American Prospect)
What effects is it likely to have? Firstly, it has prompted several bloggers to refer sarcastically to the crazy rightwing myth that Obama is actually Malcolm X's love-child. Sounds like Star Wars to me - Obama as a Jedi knight, overcoming the black ideology of his symbolic father. I guess AlQaeda would read the symbolism the other way around - Amerika as Sith. In any case, AlQaeda and the American Right are both attached to the kind of simplistic mythological worldview promoted in films like Star Wars, and perhaps Mr al-Zawahri will be happy to see anything that reinforces this worldview.
The second potential effect is reflexive. People often inadvertently reveal their own weaknesses and shame when criticizing others. Perhaps this is because they focus on those characteristics they are most uncomfortable or ashamed about in themselves. As a result of contrasting President-elect Obama with "honourable Black Americans", Mr al-Zawahri is inevitably going to find himself and his terrorist pals contrasted with "honourable Arab Moslems". And perhaps at some level he thinks this too.