Over the last week and a half, supporters at McCain/Palin rallies have yelled "kill him," "terrorist," "traitor!" and "off with his head!" about Obama. At Wednesday night's presidential debate, John McCain refused to denounce those outbursts or take any responsibility for the violent, hateful atmosphere he's helped create. Instead, he attacked civil rights hero John Lewis for calling him out on it, and tried to cast McCain/Palin supporters as victims of a smear.
Either John McCain doesn't understand the dangerous words coming out of some of his loudest supporters' mouths, or he doesn't care.
McCain-Palin rallies have started to look more like mob scenes than political events. The candidates keep asking "who is the real Barack Obama?" (a question that also kicks off almost every McCain television ad). In response, supporters have yelled "terrorist!" and "traitor!" And the venom goes beyond Obama--one McCain/Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at a Black member of a news crew, saying "sit down, boy." The outbursts at McCain/Palin events have crossed the line into direct threats and suggestions of violence. Last week, at the mention of Obama's name, a McCain supporter yelled "kill him!"prompting a secret service investigation. A few days later, someone shouted "off with his head!"
In the face of all of this, McCain and Palin haven't stopped for five seconds to denounce these violent outbursts. In fact they've tried to defend them and their fear-mongering smear tactics continue. McCain and Palin are going down a dangerous path. Watching some of their supporters being interviewed shows the kind of fear their campaign is stoking and exploiting. McCain and Palin are clearly in the driver's seat. They've personally made it a point to use "terrorist" and "Obama" in the same sentence; their surrogates have repeatedly referred to Obama by his middle-name; and they keep pushing the discredited guilt-by-association smears that have long been debunked.
As Americans of all stripes, we've seen how Barack Obama's historic candidacy has moved our friends and family to have a more honest conversation about race in this country. It's inspired a lot of people to step out of their comfort zone and confront racism in their own communities, with their friends, neighbors, and families. Now we have McCain, at a time of crisis in this country, pandering to one of the worst instincts in America. His campaign is playing to the kind of suspicion, hatred and fear that brings out the worst in us all, which history shows can lead to horrible consequences.
We can fight back
In the final days of this campaign, we can't let a desperate John McCain and Sarah Palin drag us down. If enough of us act, we can create a powerful story in the media about Black people and our allies of all races standing together against race-baiting and fear-mongering coming from theMcCain/Palin campaign. But it will take a lot of us speaking in unison. Will you sign an open letter to McCain and Palin, telling them who you are and why you won't let them move our country backward? We'll publish the letter and make sure John McCain is forced to respond.
Thanks and Peace,