Primarily for perverse amusement, from time to time I peruse the Reno Gazette Journal, to see how this parody of a serious journalistic enterprise is handling the national political scene. This morning, in a true mirror of Fox News fair-and-balanced fashion, the paper’s coverage of the nastiness that is the unhinged, thoroughly bigoted zealots supporting the McCain-Palin campaign called it right down the middle: although the paper did accurately report there had been racial epithets and smears of “terrorist” thrown, it did not suggest or state in any manner from which campaign’s rallies they came.
It was all a case of both sides being culpable; as if Sarah Palin’s inflammatory rhetoric, that “He (Obama) does not think like ‘us’” (Good American white people), he “considers America so guilty, he even pals around with terrorists” was somehow tit-for-tat with something equally heinous from the Obama camp.
And when McCain asks “Who is Barack Obama?” and the crowd, in a genuine Pavlovian stimulus-response screams “terrorist!” or “treason!” or “kill him!” or “off with his head!” the Arizona senator simply fades into the background with a wan smile of self-satisfaction on his face. It’s all a case of a private glow of “mission accomplished.”
(As disclosure: From September, 2003 through September, 2006 I lived in the south Tampa Bay communities, first of Bradenton, last of Palmetto. At no time during this period did I not scheme how to get the hell out of a state I loathed, out of a state I hoped some great hurricane might wash completely out to sea. Whether into the Gulf or the Atlantic, I did not care.)
Lee County, Florida is in the southwester, part of the state. Its very white and very privileged and very Republican major communities consist of Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and the very tawny Sanibel Island. It is an area dominated by private golf courses and private yacht harbors and gated communities. The Confederate “Stars ‘n’ Bars” flies from front yard flag poles, where no other flag can be found. It is on tailgates and on the rear windows of pickup trucks. It isn’t necessary for anyone to say, “If you’re black or brown, unless you’re tidying the beds, cleaning the toilets or gardening, you’re not wanted HERE.” Every bit of the sentiment hangs ubiquitous, like a damp foulness, in the humid air.
So when Lee County Sheriff, Mike Joseph Scott, as the warm-up act for Sarah Palin, unapologetically railed at the microphone about Barack HUSSEIN Obama, and as the frenzied masses, hatred dripping from their mouths likestreams of drool from bloodthirsty bloodhounds, the vitriolic saturated cat-calls were 100% predictable. Vivid in my imagination were the faces and mindless howlings of those in Robespierre’s France during the Reign of Terror, as the guillotine blade lopped another head into the waiting basket. Oh, how Sheriff Scott is such a perfect version of Tale of Two Cities' Madame Dufarge.
Want to know terror? Click on any YouTube video of any McCain-Palin rally.
The RGJ, as the cheap Reno rag is known, failed utterly its primary obligation: to deliver the truth to a public that will require it, to facilitate the formation of an informed opinion; a mission that because of budget cuts or agenda the national and local broadcast and print media have let slip into the dustbin. The truth: Whatever violence-prone rancor exists today, to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Cassius, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in Republican hearts.” And those Republican hearts pose a grave threat to the “domestic tranquility” that McCain and Palin quite falsely assert they would swear to protect, for it is exclusively McCain and Palin who are fanning those fanatic fires of hatred, and no others. NO OTHERS!
Essentially what McCain and Palin are, is the white answer to the raised fist, black power salute in the 60s, and the benign “who me?” forsaking of responsibility for the products of the anger it loosed: Detroit, Newark, Watts . . . raging infernos.
Another vivid example of a fanned mob mentality gone wild occurred on November 26, 1933 in San José, California’s St. James Park, the site of the last public lynching in the U.S. The lynching of Thurmond and Holmes, broadcast live by a Los Angeles radio station and witnessed by a crowd, including reporters and photographers, that was estimated to approximate 15,000, was sparked by California Governor Rolph’s very public announcement that he would not accede to Santa Clara County Sheriff William Emig’s request that the governor call out the National Guard.
For anyone to suggest that reactive violence cannot follow inflammatory rhetoric is the most base of all base excuses, or that those inciting the violence have no real culpability is beyond credence, or that the violence might somehow be exonerated, or even understandable, is to further incite the violence itself: see Krystallnacht! .