I mentioned yesterday that John McCain had stood up for Barack Obama’s honor when confronted with just how out of hand his supporters were getting. There are probably many reasons for this, not the least of which are increasingly frightening poll numbers for him (for pure poll pornography, head over to fivethirtyeight.com). Another reason could be that outside pressure is increasing for him to stop his dangerous fear mongering. I wondered on October 7 if the McCain camp really understood what it was doing:
This is irresponsible and wreckless and shows the lack of foresight, lack of seeing things out to their possible conclusions that we can ill afford in the country’s highest executives.
Two days later, I quoted Ta-Nehisi Coates on the subject (see here), who was much more explicit than I. Since then, we’ve seen more and more of this kind of calling out of McCain. Yesterday, in the Baltimore Sun, Op-Ed writer Frank Schaeffer wrote:
John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as “not one of us,” I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.
Schaeffer’s creds go beyond the Sun: he worked to get McCain elected in 2000 and, in return, McCain, “…wrote an endorsement of one of (his) books about military service.” McCain’s own are turning on him, recognizing that what he is doing is unleashing powers that are simply beyond his control. Schaeffer hits the nail on the head when this Baltimore writer pens:
Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs.
McCain and Palin need to dial it back … and fast. Over at Too Sense, they put this all in perspective:
The country is on fire, and McCain is pissing gasoline.
Coming from the South, and being a student of her history, I can tell you that these are forces that cannot easily be contained, once unleashed. The old stories of blacks usurping white power during Reconstruction have not gone away, nor have the tales of black violence during the most tumultuous phase of the Civil Rights Movement. These resentments have been out there, covered by a thin coat of anti-welfare rhetoric (and now the effort to blame the mortgage crisis on poor black people who had the nerve to buy houses).
They never went away, they just became the subtext for much of our political discourse. Only now, they are less and less a matter of subtext. They are being brought to the forefront, and inflamed. To all those thinking that somehow America had “transcended race” via Obama’s nomination, here is your undenaible proof that no such transcendance has taken place. For all of the Benetton ads, Cosby Shows, and “Yes We Can” videos, we have not excised the emotional cancer of our collective past. At most, it has only ever been in remission, waiting for the chance to grow again.