What's Behind Some of the Port Opposition

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What's Behind Some of the Port Opposition

The deal to permit a state-owned business based in the United Arab Emirates to manage major U.S. ports raises legitimate concerns, and it clearly sounds like the Bush White House tried to basically sneak this deal past Congress and the public.

Having said that, as a follow-up to my earlier post, it's clear to me that anti-Muslim xenophobia is probably partly driving many conservative Republicans from flyover states to assail the UAE port deal. So-called "bubba" voters may know little about the deal's specifics, but their gut-level concern is easily translated into a 10-second soundbite at the coffee shop -- "Why would we let them A-rabs control our ports?"

Perhaps this emotional reaction by these NASCAR voters is reflected somewhat in Rep. Sue Myrick's letter to the president in which she incorrectly refers to the deal as "selling American ports to the United Arab Emirates ..." There are good reasons to be concerned about this deal, but the UAE company would be managing the ports, not purchasing them as real estate.

Either Myrick is uninformed or she deliberately phrased her letter in a way that was likely to further inflame her "bubba" constituents.

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