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McCain and Palin Stoke Racism

By       Message Kelly Bowling     Permalink
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I have been predicting that this election is going to hinge on the issue of race and fear.  Are voters going to decide, when alone in the voting booth, that they can accept a black man as President of the United States?    I am an optimist.  I think we will turn a new page in racial history in the United States.  We will, at least on this issue, regain our moral standing in the world.  We will be the first major power to elect a member of the minority to lead the nation.  Not only will we make that decision, but it will be an overwhelming affirmation- as I have predicted since it was clear Obama would be the nominee.  In three weeks, we will be talking about a landslide.

Predictions notwithstanding, it looks like the next three weeks are shaping up to be the test of racial politics that I have predicted.  The McCain campaign is shamelessly turning to scare tactics and attempting to, rather blatantly, exploit the fears and prejudices that exist in America.  After a week of escalating rhetoric--Palin being the most prominent mouthpiece--there is now a consistent consternation among the press and a laudable "calling out" of McCain, his surrogates, and the zealots at his events.  The last few days has revealed a McCain who appears torn between race baiting and fear mongers, and salvation for what little remains of his political reputation and honor.

Obama, to his credit, has acknowledged the two instances where McCain has dialed back and corrected his maniacal supporters at his recent events.  I, for one, am not offering thanks, and I am not going to give McCain a pass until it is clear that any and all of these tactics have been renounced, which I believe is unlikely.  Also, nothing short of removing Palin from the ticket will gain my forgiveness and restoration of any semblance of respect.

This started with two major arguments from the prime players.  First, Palin repeated, in her typical broken record, wind-up doll fashion:  "Obama believes America is so imperfect that he would pal around with domestic terrorists."  McCain, following the Republican rule that repetition and emphasis make lie into truth, says that Obama is a liar and begs the audience to ask "who is the real Obama."

Let's consider the subversive belief which exists about Obama, rooted, I believe,  in his race.  The belief goes something like this:  Obama is a terrorist, or at a minimum a terrorist sympathizer.  He is unpatriotic, and a student of black power--a modern day Huey Newton.  This is why  internet rumors and  footage of Reverend Wright have resonated.  It's the classic guilt by association (in this case, infinitely loose association).  So now McCain and Palin stoke the innuendos like Nero playing his fiddle as Rome  burns.  John McCain, in his recent town hall meetings, is getting just the answer he wanted to his question, "who is the real Obama?"

I find it infuriating that John McCain is correcting, rather meekly, the two recent members of his audience who gave him the very answer he was looking for.  In case you missed it, here is a quick rundown of several comments of which I refer.
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In one instance, a man describes his thoughts on an Obama administration, saying he actually fears raising his son in America with a president who cohorts with terrorists.  John McCain had to tell the man, and the audience (which booed the response), that he did not have to fear an Obama administration.  In another instance, a woman tells McCain that she doesn't trust Obama, she has heard he is an Arab.  McCain (channeling Hillary Clinton's, "he's not a Muslim as far as I know"?) says that the woman's statement is not true, that Obama is a citizen and a decent family man.  It must have been very confusing for the audience to hear.  Journalists have reported at other events shouts of "terrorist," "off with his head," and even, "kill him."  I don't know about you, but this makes me very concerned. And that is an understatement.

We are at a cross roads in the last three weeks of this election.  We have the choice as a nation to decide this election on the issues and the direction that our country takes, here at home and abroad.  We can vote for a better economic situation, or a wiser, safer use of our military.  Though I deplore it, we can vote to have social values reflected in our nation's laws and/or on our Supreme Court.

Or we can add fuel to the flames of racial division and poke the wounds and injuries of prejudice.  We can roll back the gains made in reconciliation and, and turn back from America's "path to perfection" (a beautiful construct from a previous Obama speech on race).

Join me in saying "no," not only to those politics but once and for all, that predjudice.  Stand with Obama, disaffirm McCain and Palin.  Vote Barack Obama as the next President for ALL of America.
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Kelly Bowling lives in Raleigh, NC and graduated from Duke University in 2000. He aspires to be a political columnist for the Washington Post.

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