Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
And over at OpEdNews, documented incidents of racism, threats to Obama, and really disturbing footage at rallies in which people say that Obama is a terrorist, a muslim, an Arab--and one in which a man holds a Monkey with an Obama sticker on it--this is all just too, too troubling:
[IMPORTANT ASIDE: What is VERY disturbing and under-reported in all of these accounts is the assumption people are making between Arab/Muslim = terrorist. First of all, if Obama was a practicing Muslim or Arab American, that would be FINE. Arab and Muslim Americans are NOT un-American and they are certainly NOT terrorists and it is a function of post-9/11 racism that makes the link between people of Arab descent and Muslim beliefs to terrorism. After all, white supremacist groups like the KKK have been engaged in domestic acts of terrorism during much of the 20th century, and have done so under the umbrella of Christianity. Yet we do NOT assume all Christian Americans are a legacy of this heritage of white racism and white supremacy nor do we assume that if one grew up an Evangelical Christian in the Southern region of the U.S. that one is automatically linked to domestic terrorism. I find the links between Arab descent and Islamic religion with terrorism or being "un-American" patently offensive.]
To his credit, John McCain has tried to address some of this ugliness. A New York Times article discusses how McCain tells his supporters that they shouldn't "fear" an Obama presidency and when another woman says she is afraid of Obama because he is an Arab, McCain shakes his head, says no, and tells this woman and the crowd at this Minnesota rally that Obama is a decent family man. And I appreciate that McCain is trying to calm down his crowd and be respectful towards his fellow running-mate, but in a lot of ways, this is reaping what you sow. In other words, certain members of the Republican party have been clamoring to have McCain and especially Palin attack Obama's character and trying to link him to "terrorists"--of course what they are doing is old-fashioned rabble-rousing, with the added element of institutional and historic (and recent) racism on their side.
So this is what I want to know. Where is the Republican leadership? I'm not just talking about John McCain and Sarah Palin and their campaign. I'm talking about others, like the primary candidates, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and the Bush administration. Where are THEY on calling on all Americans but especially McCain supporters (especially members of the Republican party perhaps since I'm assuming this is the demographics at these rallies) to be better than this rhetoric of hate and fear and prejudice. One Republican representative from Illinois has called on Palin to stop attacking Obama, saying that this campaign should be "better" than these tactics. But where are other leaders and politicians saying that McCain supporters, especially white McCain supporters (because honestly, (A) That's the majority caught on tape making these remarks (B) That seems to be the majority demographic at McCain/Palin rallies) should be at the forefront of talking about racism and prejudice and denouncing these acts.
Finally, here's a 13 plus minute MSNBC clip analyzing these ugly elements from recent days:
[Final Note: I'm not saying that all Republican or John McCain supporters are racist or more prone to racist tendencies. Obviously with the recent discussions of independent voters and die-hard Democrats struggling with their own internalized racism, we know this isn't the case--even with Obama's supporters of all hues, there's bound to be a fair amount of internalized racism. But as someone who has been to two different Obama rallies in the last year and a half, I have to tell you that I have not witnessed the kind of animosity and hatred that seems to be bubbling up in these clips. And at a rally during the primary that was held at Southern U., when Obama talked about John McCain and people booed, he told them that John McCain was a good man--and that he wanted his campaign not to devolve into the typical character assassination--for us to concentrate on the future and on a positive message of hope and change. And I think, for the most part, that has been the tenor of his campaign.
Also, this just in (4:57pm EST): an Op-Ed piece by Frank Rich in The New York Times that essentially echoes many of the things I've written above, except that I'd disagree with Rich about McCain being someone who is a stranger to racism.]