I think the danger of McCain and Palin's attacks against Obama's loyalty to America has been underestimated, even by those who realize that it's incitement to violence. The repercussions of anything happening to Obama as a result of the recent GOP candidates' rhetoric are potentially catastrophic.
In trying to link Obama to terrorism they're questioning his status, not as a competent politician, but as an American. And there are people in the crowd who believe Obama is a terrorist, or will help terrorists, and that his name is an indication of his terrorist leanings. And Sarah and John are standing before mobs specifically encouraging those beliefs. They are encouraging people to think of Obama as disloyal to America. They're not even questioning his patriotism, they're saying that deep down he hates America and wants to destroy it.
That is hate speech. They are encouraging the crowd to hate Obama as they would a mortal enemy.
Here in Chicago, the home of Fred Hampton, who was murdered in his bed by police, we don't think it's a big joke. And, you know, when I was a kid, a lot of leaders who represented change were killed. I don't know if you youngsters remember the ridiculous number of people getting shot to death for there political beliefs during the 60s, and I'm sure you don't remember all the lynchings in the decades following Emancipation up to around the mid-seventies. But surely you remember that two of the most prominent black leaders of the 60s were murdered -- one by a crazy, hate-filled white man, the kind of person who happily indulged in lynching during the heady days when it was considered jolly fun to send postcards of mutilated black people surrounded by the smiling white mob who'd hunted them down. Maybe Sarah and John remember that? Or at least John?
It's not a crime to support Obama. And we who do are not robots or idiots anymore than you who support McCain are. But how many of you who support McCain are worried that your candidate is going to be gunned down in public? We've been worried about it, and worried about it legitimately, since the man first got into the campaign. It's a daily concern. I can only imagine how his family feels.
I don't look at this country the way Sarah Palin does, either. I don't think only right-wing Christian white people are fit for citizenship or to hold office, and I don't think it's right to play off that kind of prejudice in others. And as dangerous as I believed Bush was and still is, and Cheney, too, I never called them terrorists until they actually committed some terrorism. And even then I never thought John Kerry ought to try to demonize them as part of his campaign strategy, although I guess it would have been better than the strategy he went with, which was none.
Barack Obama was never a member of the Weather Underground, but Sarah Palin's husband was a member of a secessionist movement whose leader Sarah Palin avowedly still admires. Sarah Palin is as close to a klansman as the McCain camp could find without actually tapping David Duke. Did they all along decide this would be their strategy? To be losing so badly that everyone would understand if they made the worst possible attacks against their opponent? Is that why they picked someone who could really get behind inciting a crowd to the brink of riot and assassination without compromising her principles?
Harping on this Ayers thing is not just politically cheap, it's dangerously nasty. Violently nasty. Do you think if the danger were brought to Sarah and John's attention they would stop it? Me neither.
I expect this kind of garbage from Limbaugh and Savage and Malkin. It's their job to spew evil. But the responsibilities of a public servant, even during a campaign, should include keeping his activities within bounds that don't threaten the civil safety. I guess you don't get to be president by trying half as hard as you think you should, but this is really not good for the country. And John McCain knows it. And he just doesn't care. I certainly hope that, when he loses, McCain comes out and says, "All that stuff about Obama being a terrorist supporter was just campaign mudslinging. Please, crazy racist white people, don't riot or start blowing up federal buildings."
Because this is a real dangerous game John and Sarah are playing, and I will not hesitate to point the finger at them should Obama become a victim of the violence they're inciting. Does anyone doubt that if the worst should happen, the streets will catch fire and the gutters will run bloody? And that will be John and Sarah's fault, too. You can only mock people's hope for so long before they snap. Do you really want to be responsible for the first US race riots of the century? Because we will hold you, John and Sarah, responsible for every wound inflicted in the name of hate.
And if you think I'm overreacting, I hope it doesn't get to the point where you find out how wrong you are.