Two Days After McCain Tells His Supporters to be 'More Respectful' of His Opponent, Palin Again Stokes Fear and Loathing Against Obama by Branding Him a 'Terrorist Sympathizer' at Ohio Rally -- TV News Reporter Captures Palin Supporters Making Blatantly Racist Remarks Against the Democratic Nominee
(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Monday, October 20, 2008)
A 'SKEETER BITES REPORT EDITORIAL
It has often been said that one can judge a person by the company he or she keeps. In the case of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, the company she is keeping has caused this blogger to sound a very loud alarm that the Alaska governor is a dangerous, fearmongering demagogue totally unfit to be situated a heartbeat away from the most powerful job in the world.
On Friday, I made a discovery on YouTube that disturbed me to a great degree. In fact, it did much more than disturb me; it made me both very fearful and very angry at the same time.
At an October 12 rally in Ohio for Palin, Casey Kauffman, a reporter for the English-language international channel of the Qatar-based Aljazeera news network, interviewed several Palin supporters for their thoughts on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
What came out of their mouths was utterly shocking.
Apparently aware that Aljazeera's English-language channel is largely unavailable for viewing in the United States -- save for a couple of cable systems, its live Web stream and a dedicated channel on YouTube -- these Palin supporters gave Kauffman an earful of blatantly racist remarks against the African-American senator from Illinois that they likely would never have told a reporter for an American TV network.
"I'm afraid if he [Obama] wins, the blacks will take over!" a silver-haired white woman told Kauffman. Stubbornly clinging to the false belief that the Illinois senator is a Muslim -- when, in fact, he is a Christian -- the woman angrily insisted, "He's not a Christian! This is a Christian nation! What is our culture gonna end up like?"
It gets worse. Much worse.
A middle-aged white man whom Kauffman interviewed made no attempt to hide his contempt for Obama because of the fact that the Democratic nominee is black. "When you've got a nigger running for president, he ain't a first-stringer," he said. "He's definitely a second-stringer."
No, that's not a typographical error. This man boldly and unapologetically called Obama the infamous N-word.
One woman expressed a fear that Obama and his wife, Michelle, might be secretly "anti-white." Another woman told Kauffman this comment about Obama: "I don't like the fact that he thinks us white people are trash -- because we're not!"
These comments were uttered at what was supposed to be a rally for Sarah Palin. As it was, the crowd was predominantly middle-aged and older, predominantly male and -- most tellingly -- exclusively white.
If you closed your eyes while listening to these comments, you'd think they were being made at a gathering of the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists, rather than at a rally for the GOP vice-presidential nominee. This blogger seriously doubts that anyone would have dared to say out loud what they really thought of Obama if there were any nonwhite people, especially blacks, present.
Indeed, Kauffman interviewed an Obama supporter -- a white man who lives in the area -- who told him that as he was holding up his Obama sign at the entrance to the rally site, several Palin supporters shouted the N-word and other epithets at him ("Baby killer!") as they passed by in their cars.
"I'm really scared of what's going on here," the unidentified man told Kauffman. "I'm scared that one of these people could be crazy enough to try to harm Obama."
That Aljazeera had the guts to broadcast those venomous remarks uncensored -- when neither of the big three American cable news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) nor any of the big three over-the-air American TV networks (ABC, CBS or NBC) would do so -- speaks volumes not only about what caliber of people Palin is attracting, but also the sorry state of the mainstream American news media in their abject failure to report this part of the Palin story.
It is noteworthy that this rally took place a week ago Sunday -- a full two days after Republican presidential nominee John McCain found himself confronted with open bigotry against Obama at his own town hall-style campaign stop in Minnesota.
To his credit, McCain challenged his supporters to be more respectful of his opponent -- even in the face of a chorus of boos. What did Palin do to hold her supporters to the same standard?
Nothing -- Zero, zip, zilch, nada.
To the contrary, she did the exact opposite: She stoked the crowd into a frenzy of contempt against the Illinois senator by saying, "We know who the bad guys are," referring to terrorists. At Palin's mention of "bad guys," the crowd shouted, "Obama!"
Did Palin cut them off? No. Did she tell her supporters to be more respectful of the Democratic nominee, as McCain did two days earlier? Absolutely not.
Rather, the Alaska governor continued: "Those who sympathize and support those terrorists who would seek to destroy all that it is that we value -- those are the bad guys, OK?"
Palin's implication was clear: Obama was, in her mind, a "bad guy." A terrorist sympathizer. An enemy of America. A traitor.
Palin obviously wasn't the only one at the rally who felt that way, as one man told Aljazeera's Kauffman his belief that Obama "is related to a known terrorist and is a supporter of terrorists."
Remember that it was Palin -- not McCain -- who accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists," referring to Obama's relationship to former 1960s radical William Ayres.
But although McCain did bring up Ayres at last Wednesday's final presidential debate, McCain made it clear that he didn't much care about "a washed-up '60s radical" like Ayres.
Never once has Palin referred to Ayres as an "old '60s radical." Rather, she's always used the word "terrorist" to describe him. In her mind -- and in the minds of her supporters -- Ayres is a "terrorist" in the mold of al-Qaida and other Muslim extremists.
Anyone who's familiar with recent American history knows that except for the Black Panthers, the domestic radicals of the 1960s were mostly middle-class white kids. Say "'60's radical," and the mind immediately conjures up the image of a long-haired, bearded white guy like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin -- or William Ayres.
Say "terrorist" on the the other hand, and the mind immediately conjures up the image of a dark-skinned Middle Easterner like Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- or Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The only thing that Barack Obama has in common with al-Qaida terrorists is that he has the same skin complexion they have.
Palin is fully aware that many of Obama's opponents still believe that the Illinois senator is a Muslim. And some -- egged on by right-wing radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh -- believe that Obama isn't even African-American, but a foreign-born Arab.
That's far beyond anything that McCain would say about his opponent. Indeed, Palin's remarks were the kind one would have expected more than 50 years ago from Senator Joe McCarthy about the "Communist menace." Indeed, McCarthy would be very proud of her.
Sarah Palin is deliberately playing to xenophobia toward the foreign-born as well as Afrophobia toward Americans of African descent. As far as this blogger is concerned, Sarah Palin has crossed the line into the kind of demagoguery that flirts dangerously with outright fascism.
That makes her totally unfit to serve as our country's next vice president -- a heartbeat away from the presidency.
I'm not the only one who's noticed this. So has Representative John Lewis (D-Georgia), a veteran of the civil rights movement who experienced first hand the fear and hatred that many white people of his generation and older had toward darker-skinned people nearly half a century ago.
Lewis criticized the McCain campaign -- but especially Palin -- for whipping up racially-charged animosity toward Obama. He accused Palin of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" and compared the feelings expressed at her campaign rallies to those of late segregationist Alabama governor and presidential candidate George Wallace.
"As public figures with power to influence and persuade, Senator McCain and Governor Palin are playing with fire and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all," Lewis warned.
While Obama did rebuke as unfair Lewis' comparison of McCain to Wallace, he nonetheless agreed with the Georgia congressman's underlying message. And so does this blogger -- especially when it comes to Palin.
The Alaska governor has made no secret of her displeasure with McCain's ironclad ban on anyone in his campaign bringing up Obama's 20-year friendship with his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Yet McCain knew full well that to bring up Wright now would be racially inflammatory.
Unlike Palin, McCain is clearly determined not to be cast as a racist. Unfortunately for him, McCain is stuck with the Alaska governor.
It's much too late for the Arizona senator to boot Palin from the GOP ticket; not only is her name on the ballot in all 50 states, but it's logistically impossible to reassemble the GOP convention to pick a replacement for her. By now, it should be abundantly clear that Palin has become a serious liability to McCain and, ultimately, to the Republican Party.
By choosing Palin to be his running mate -- instead of a more highly respected Republican woman such as Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine or Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina -- McCain made the single worst mistake of his entire campaign.
But I understand why McCain did it: He had to appease the far right wing of his party who to this day remains suspicious of him -- and, unfortunately, is firmly in control of the GOP.
Little did anyone realize at the time McCain chose Palin in August just how much of a fearmongering demagogue she really is.
To borrow Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign slogan, "This time, vote like your whole world depended on it" -- because it does. For the sake of our country -- and the world -- the McCain-Palin ticket must be defeated at all costs.
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