Friday, October 10, 2008

What Worries Me...

Yes, we're inundated with headlines about the global markets/credit crisis that have some variation of why we should be worried or how worried we should be.

And, yes, I feel a sense of dread when I bring up CNN about what will be the latest process story trying to contextualize just how bad it is.

But those stories are not the ones that make me feel the most dread about the future or the state of America.

The ones that make me feel the most dread are the ones where I hear about Sarah Palin saying that Barack Obama "pals around" with terrorists or that he isn't "one of us" (literally/Conservative Republican; code: White). Is it any surprise then that the tenor of Republican rallies has turned not just angry but ugly? That Republicans crowds have begun yelling "kill him" when Obama's name is mentioned at rallies? Is this just rhetoric? I don't think so. When people start treating a major party candidate as someone who is "not one of us" and who is "taking over our country [emphasis added]," I begin to worry that Sinclair Lewis was right when he wrote that anyone who thinks "It Can't Happen Here" is naive.

There's been smatterings of growing concern that a close election could spark "race riots" but isn't that code for "Black riots" in the media? Is anyone besides me concerned about "racist riots"? Because really, what I hear is a ratcheting of of the language of dehumanization, the use of words that help prepare for violence and incite violence by breaking down whatever innate psychological or spiritual deterrents against it there are and making it easier to contemplate by feeding the lie that its purported object isn't human (or one of us, or is a criminal or a terrorist) and therefore not deserving of the same basic human protections and freedoms we all are.

I don't support Senator John McCain or Governor Sarah Palin, but I would like to hope that they are honorable people who are appalled by some of their supporters' racist and fascist views rather than crass and desperate politicians who will justify them while standing behind a banner that says "Country First."

Over and over again, when reading or hearing my friends or acquaintances who support John McCain, I hear the word "honorable" attached to him and his service.

CNN reports:
And at a McCain rally in New Mexico on Monday, one supporter yelled out "terrorist" when McCain asked, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain didn't respond.
Could you imagine if there were a predominantly African-American audience that screamed out that John McCain was a terrorist or yelled "kill her" when Sarah Palin was mentioned? And were Obama at such a rally and did not denounce it?

David Gergen said at CNN:

"There is this free floating sort of whipping around anger that could really lead to some violence. I think we're not far from that," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday. "I really worry when we get people -- when you get the kind of rhetoric that you're getting at these rallies now. I think it's really imperative that the candidates try to calm people down."

If we've learned anything from the world politics of the last 100 years, it's that any two bit dictator can whip a crowd into a frenzy, but it takes a true leader of stature to talk back to his base and party when he disagrees with what they are doing.

Senator McCain, I implore you, for the good of the country we both love, to answer Gergen's call.

Put country first.

Act presidential--whether or not you get elected president.

Later edit...three sound bites on CNN showed McCain saying "you don't have to be scared," of an Obama presidency, McCain saying "no ma'am" to the woman who says Obama is an Arab, and saying that they need to be more respectful of Obama.

Good for him.

Yes, there is some inconsistency in stirring the pot with one hand (the ads) and calling for calm in the other, but overall I am grateful for Senator McCain doing the honorable thing in response to some of the rhetoric on the campaign trail getting out of hand.

And thanks to CNN for showing those clips and not just the earlier ones of McCain not responding. To see McCain booed at his own party rally for saying he admires Obama and respects his accomplishments shows he knows the political cost of doing the right thing and is doing it any way.

Well, not so fast.

This guy calls Obama a "hooligan" and McCain says "he's right."

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