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Cheri Shankar Headshot

Vote for Obama and a Baby Bear Might Die

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A bear cub was killed recently in North Carolina because someone out there doesn't like Barack Obama. According to the Ashville Citizen Times, the body of a baby bear was found shot in the head and dumped at an entrance to the campus of Western Carolina University. What sadly connects this sick act to Obama is that the killer shoved, onto the head of the little cub, Obama signs that had been stapled together as a "hat" to top off a final gesture of insolence.

2008-10-21-blackBearCub.jpg

Photo courtesy of Pris from la

What does this violent act say about some of those who support the McCain/Palin ticket? Sarah Palin has made clear her disdain and disregard for wildlife in her war against wolves, bears and other predators in Alaska. Her obvious enjoyment in stalking and shooting animals is made clear in pictures of her standing over the bloodied carcass of her latest kill (gun versus caribou never seemed very fair), all smiles, her arms wrapped around one of her kids, a second generation of hunters she will bestow upon the planet. But this isn't just about vile acts against animals. What about the aggressive and sometimes criminal behavior towards supporters of the Democratic party?

The pure ugliness, intolerance and simmering hatred of many McCain/Palin backers is hard to ignore and frightening to contemplate. Reports of disgusting and uncivilized actions such as hanging Obama in effigy, slashing the tires of Obama supporters while they attend an Obama rally, robocalls that accuse Obama of being a baby killer and a terrorist and this latest, cruel act of murdering a baby bear to make a point (or to make a threat?) tells us something we probably don't want to hear about this country.

This glimpse into the hearts and minds of some in the McCain/Palin camp is a glimpse into a truly hideous side of this country. To know that there are people out there who are driven by such hatred, such intolerance, such anger that it manifests in hostile, dangerous and repellent actions should first be acknowledged and then strongly condemned by all. The McCain/Palin campaign should be ashamed for aiming for the lowest common denominator in their speeches by pushing the buttons of fear and loathing rather than appealing, as Barack Obama does, to the better angels of our nature, much as the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln did in his first Inaugural address during another time of division and profound disagreement in the country:

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory,
stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all
over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

If John McCain, Sarah Palin and the Republican party have any desire to repair the damage they have wrought in their divisive and anger-filled campaigns of the past decade or more, they still have a chance in the next couple of weeks to move the Republican party closer to the ideals of Lincoln, a Republican who has proved to be one of the greatest leaders of this nation.

In the meantime, I beseech the McCain/Palin campaign to demand that its supporters stop killing innocent animals in reaction to frustration over its diminishing chances of winning this election. And I would like to suggest, as a diarist at the Daily Kos did, that we make a donation to Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States or to the Obama campaign in memory of this little bear cub.