The history of political violence in America is a well-documented disgrace, and is not to be taken lightly. It is almost exclusively relegated to right-wing America haters like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party (which inspired the likes of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh). Like many of my friends, the violence mongered recently by John McCain has not escaped my attention.
So I couldn't help checking out "A Little Reality" - a video shot on October 8, 2008, of supporters lined up to see the deregulating, plane crashing, husband of a millionaire who has earned the loyalty of these hate-spewing thugs. But what I discovered was not what I expected.
At first, I thought maybe I'd clicked on the wrong link. Were these people shuffling into a Home & Garden Expo...or the grand opening of a new Fatburger? And then the buffet-line refugees began to bellow.
"I think you're stupid," said one, to the cameraman. "Why, sir?" "Because...that guy (Obama) gets elected, he hangs around with terrorists!" "Who's the terrorist?" The old timer almost stifles a smirk: "Obama!" I get it - Obama's a terrorist because he hangs around with terrorists, because he's a terrorist. On second thought, maybe this is a MENSA reunion!
"Commie faggots," whines another one, who in that one poignant moment spans both ends of his life, from the pre-school sandbox taunt to the death rattle in the cardiac ward. I find myself hoping they're serving food at the hatefest - he doesn't look like a guy who's ever waited long for his next meal.
"Get a job," shout the retirees whose government-provided entitlements the rest of us are paying for. These are the true Americans! "Socialist swine" hisses one through his dentures, as the Bush administration prepares to buy ownership interests in banks.
A bald, bespectacled 70-year old lumbers by and says "Die," then brings his finger across his throat and points at Obama supporters across the street. He looks like a truly dangerous guy. Plus about 45 years. "You think they should die?" asks the cameraman. The ruthless killer thinks for a moment. He sees where this is going, but he's one step of the liberal with the camera. "Everyone dies, don't they?" Oh, snap!
"And he is a Muslim," an elderly woman warns us. We can tell right away that she knows a Muslim when she sees one. Her bowling league is probably littered with them.
"Do you think he's an American?" asks the cameraman. "I don't know what he is," says interchangeable old guy #62, slamming that door shut.
Next up, a small, solemn group of patriots - average age about 75 - sings a painful chorus of "God Bless America," as if to inoculate themselves against the idea that a "colored boy" (insert your own euphemism) might possibly defile the White House with his presence.
A 300-pound man in an XXXXXXXL T-shirt displaying an Obama logo customized with a hammer and sickle (remember those?) transports his bulk down the street covering more ground from side to side than he does straight ahead, while another explains how Barack Obama and ACORN caused the worldwide economic crash. It's obvious, to him at least, that with a little more deregulation, that would never have happened.
Well scrubbed, well dressed, well fed, well indoctrinated, and mostly well over the hill...this, then, was the unruly bunch of troublemakers that stirred so much Progressive anxiety. Up close, they seemed more like cattle - dangerous only if stampeded, and then only to delicate things like china shops and Constitutions. But few looked fit enough to sustain a quick waddle, much less a stampede.
I realized that my physical safety was really the last thing threatened by this herd. More horrifying was the thought that I might someday have to squeeze into a middle airplane seat between two of them. After half an hour in their presence, I might gladly jump out of the plane.
But therein lies the point. Although America's violent history is long and shameful, so is its history of ignorance, conformity, irrationality, selfishness, racism, and mean-spiritedness. As we have come to realize in the eight years since willful stupidity became fashionable, these less obvious character defects can threaten our safety and prosperity every bit as profoundly as overt threats of violence can.
McCain's pathetic rabble are to be feared, more than anything, for the loss of moral integrity they represent. They live on lies. We can only hope that their destructive petulance ends abruptly on November 4th, when the decent and honorable among us rise up in overwhelming numbers and insist that we the people embrace the better angels of our nature.