Friday, October 10, 2008


Here are some videos of recent McCain/Palin rallies. Look at the kind of hatred and anger they're appealing to and fomenting. Look at the kind of know-nothing, us vs. them, violent passions they stoke. Even as their supporters rant "traitor!" and "socialist!" and "terrorist!" and "off with his head!" and "kill him!" and other such slander and exhortations to violence, neither McCain nor Palin ever once admonishes anyone to cool down, these are *Americans* we're denouncing and threatening to murder.

Think about that for a moment. Not just the calumny of "terrorist" and "traitor" and the rest, but death threats, as well. Against a sitting United States senator and candidate for president. A fellow American. And not a word of protest from McCain or Palin.

A few questions:

What does it say about a party when it is attracts supporters like these?

What does it say about a candidate when he or she repeatedly encourages supporters like these?

Can McCain and Palin control the passions they're stoking? Or is it more likely that such passions, stoked, will lead to real violence?

If fascism comes to America, how will it sound? What will it look like? What will be its slogans?


Anonymous said...

Goodness, this is sad and as you can see these people don't even know what they are talking about.
Its scary to know that these people help determine the future. If they could actually justify their reasons that would be a different story but hell, they have no clue what they are talking about.

As for the leaders of the party it shows you what they are willing to do to win. Should you really have someone like that in leadership? It Divides the country further and creates a much more unhappy place to live.

This election will be interesting, Obama gets in their will be riots, if he doesn't get in there could be riots. (if another Gore v Bush happens again)

Sean Wright said...

Its easy to whip up hatred isn't it. I wonder if this is what it was like with the Jews in prior to WWII in Germany.

I think it's going to be rough whoever gets in. But I think it's going to be really bad if it's McCain.

Anonymous said...

This is so incredibly scary, and sad. I wonder if any of these people have ever read anyththing about Obama or Palin.
After I read Obama's The Audacity of Hope I wanted him to declare his candidacy for president.

Watching the Democratic National Convention you could see that hope in the crowd--a mix of races, cultures, genders--the way America should look. Our future. Switch focus to the Republican Convention. A room-full of aging, white, men. A few days later, some young Republicans, and a few women. All white. The only non-white faces in the crowd were those of older veterans.

I am truly afraid for my daugher, soon to be 18, and has already voted in the primary for Obama. What if her choices are taken away?
And, my sixteen year-old son. Do I want him to go to a war that never ends? Silly question. Scary answer.

I have friends who support the McCain/Palin ticket. Every day I remind them what that will mean for our country, our children if this should come to pass. We can not let that happen.

Juicing up the ticket
Dishonest, cynical men put forward Sarah Palin for national office, but the truth emerges: The lady is talking freely about matters she has never thought about.

Editor’s note: You can find Salon’s complete coverage of Sarah Palin here.
By Garrison Keillor

rebecca said...

i only saw the first clip. this doesn't surprise me because i work with a person who thinks like this and her and i get into constant debate/arguments about it all the time. this election has brought to surface people's true colors and fears. it is a shame that as a people we still have not progressed at all. how are we to ever rise above and become greater than when our visions remain so ignorant and limited? in this case, ignorance is not bliss...ignorance is dangerous.

PBI said...

Quite the parade of geniuses, isn't it?

I think what it says about the GOP, is that it is a party out of ideas, and one that can only survive through division. Amazing, isn't it, how Republicans can tout "country first" and then, in essence, turn their hatred on half of the nation?

I think these videos are indeed frightening, but I also think that they are a call to action. If people like that are ready to cancel out our votes, we need to learn the issues backwards and forwards, be aware of the smears and how to counter them, and educate the undecideds. This kind of thing is something to be fought, not something from which we should - or can afford to - shrink!

Sensen No Sen

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this is what it was like with the Jews in prior to WWII in Germany

No, I truly think that is not the case. The attitude might be similar but that is all. This attitude might be not rational but is is not unusual in political rallies. (If at all then perhaps there was a certain similarity in the times of Jim Crow).

Living in Europe, sorry to say, theses pictures come to many of us not as a surprise; less educated and less well clad these people convey the same ignorance their present president demonstrates.

Looking ahead at all the problems Bush accumulated it would be a disaster for the world if McCain/Palin would succeed.

Spy Scribbler said...

The second clip has been removed, but I watched the first and third one. That's like my friend, who was over last night. She didn't know who Sarah Palin was, she didn't know anything about McCain, nothing, and yet she's voting for them. It's bizarre to me.

Reason and common sense just don't work. Their mind is made up. With absolutely no foundation in fact, they are completely 100% convinced Obama is a terrorist, and nothing anyone says will change that.

How do you work with that?

Anonymous said...

I think the videos are disturbing, but that they need to be placed in context. They are not impartial journalism; the interviewer/cameraman is clearly goading the audience (as noted by the New York Times in its piece on these videos: While it's true that the supporters give a lot back, and I find it completely chilling when the son of a woman being interviewed about Obama says 'You can't even touch him with gloves', this is not representative of a significant portion of American society, nor a new one, but a vocal minority of bigots that has always been there.

What is interesting, I think, is how quickly Palin's insinuations brought this tendency out and, more importantly, what it says about the election and the state of the media in the United States. I think we now use the word 'fascist' to mean horrible, or to refer to *any* infringements of civil rights we dislike. I don't think America is anywhere close to a true fascist state, and I doubt Barry would argue that, either. But his question about what it would like is very thought-provoking.
With a two-party democracy and an almost completely even split in the last two elections, there seems little danger of any kind of take-over of the country by the extreme right, unless one considers McCain/Palin to be that.

However, Bush has been in power for eight years and is a right-wing ideologue who has actively pursued those ideologies. The US is in two wars and an economic mess, and has certainly had its civil liberties abused while he has been in office - but it has not become fascist.

The freedom of the press in the US is immense, and I think it is undeniable that several major networks favour the Obama campaign. Why shouldn't they? Freedom of the press, right? Unfortunately, with only two parties, of equal size, if you favour one candidate you risk losing half your viewers. For that and other reasons, most major US TV networks attempt to be neutral in the election. What, then, can they do if one campaign appeals to the lowest and vilest instincts of the electorate? That is the irony of this situation - they can criticize the party, but only to an extent. At what point would they *really* criticize?

I think Sarah Palin is a terrifying individual, and my instincts tell me that she could indeed introduce something far closer to fascism in the United States, if she were to become president (which is not that unlikely a scenario). I'm not judging her on her opponents' insinuations or anything other than her being asked fair questions in three interviews and her performance in one debate. I think if the relationship with state and press were working ideally, in this particular case the media should have been able to critique Palin significantly more than they have, and to call her outright unsuitable. To look at Barry's question of what would fascism look like, what would it take for the mainstream media in the US to *truly* attack Sarah Palin, to stand up and unapolgetically say 'This is the road to fascism.' If Palin stood up in a rally tomorrow and said 'I want to know if Barack Hussein Obama is a secret Muslim planning to attack this country, and I think the American people have a right to know, too!' there would be outrage from many people, the media included.

But what would they actually *do*?

One problem with democracy is that you can't stop people electing a dictator.

PBI said...

Just saw this over at Crooks and Liars. Looks like McCain is finally realizing what he and Palin have helped sow...

Sensen No Sen

Anonymous said...

Thats truly sad that Mccain and Palin wouldn't say anything to these people when they shout things like that. I voted early the other day for obama, cuz i live in ohio. I hope he wins.

However, i don't think you can blame Mccain explicitly for drawing these types of supporters. They probably naturally were drawn to him due to their attitudes towards obama. However, Mccain could say something to the extent that he does not want the support of racists.

David Terrenoire said...

This is what happens when the culture derides intellectual curiosity, learning, nuanced thought and openness.

These people are ignorant and consider that a virtue.

Anonymous said...

I believe the answer to your question is

"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

~~ Sinclair Lewis

Flippant as it may be.

But not unexpected, perhaps. Given Palin's nature and (lack of) intellectual capacity, the only approach she could have is to be a demagogue, which means, simply, that she's going to stoke emotion until people cannot even conceive voting for the other guy.

Demonisation is simply the easiest way to do so.

Anonymous said...

Thats a whole lot of middle aged and older white people...

I wonder if they grasp that you can be other than a middle class white person in AND American?

The fact that they honestly believe that a man who has spent half his career as a community organizer, is a sitting US Senator, and has also spent his life in service to this country

Is somehow actually a terrorist...
I can't even wrap my head around it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that they believe obama is a terrorist, just that he has questionable connections with a domestic terrorist.

Fran said...

No, Ben, these are not rational people, and they're terrified of anyone who's not-like-them, and it's easier for them to believe Obama's a Muslim terrorist than to have to think rationally.

McPalin have appealed to the power of fear, which the Republican party has spent several years building as its base, and they simply threw a match on kindling ready to explode.

And it will take brute force to control it, so we'll see military law enacted "for the good of the country", and there's the end of the United States of America.

Am I being pessimistic and cynical? Perhaps. But that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree with you fran that some of them are not rational. But you can't just lump them all together like that. You believe that all Mccain supporters are racist and believe Obama is a terrorist?
I've read in a recent article that Mccain at a campaign stop tried to say he respects Obama and he would make a fine President, and he got booed big time.

Anonymous said...

I don’t condone violence or calls for public unrest, it is despicable, and it is a mark against Senator McCain that he did not instinctively hush these noises. But I think you have to be careful about attributing who has created the fomenting unrest that is broadly felt across the country, especially now that it is becoming as visible as these clips show.

Economic uncertainty and a long political campaign targeted against the core myths of America culture are leading to frustration and to the events you are seeing. I believe that it all started with our universities, and it’s now engrained in our political discourse.

American academic institutions are deeply afflicted with a philosophical holdover of the “radical” early 1970’s that American traditions of self-reliance, individualism, personal responsibility are the remnants of a racist heritage of dominance and exploitation - which might be true, but that is not the point.

They are so attached to this point of view that academic theorists have deconstructed and discredited vast swaths of the foundational myths America. Peoples’ careers are based on it. Rather than a fringe element of the past, these ideas have been institutionalized in tenure review boards, doctoral granting committees and administrations. Get along or get out means that your philosophy as well as your data better toe the line or you can forget your career in academic.

This tone is so deeply entrenched in these vast institutions as to be pushed to the background. It’s like the air. American’s past is bad, America’s future must be different. (There are of course hold-outs, both intuitionally as well as by discipline. If you want a fun discussion about politic correctness put an NYU Stern Finance prof in the same room with an Arts and Sciences literature associate. It’s as if they are speaking about different species. )

As was once said, “philosophy matters” and this inferred anti-American philosophy is also deep in the bias of news reporting, media and the “chattering classes” here on the East Coast and on the West Coast, because it is perceived as “intellectual” and in many ways “cool”. My argument here is that there is spillover from those that teach us into our daily lives. These philosophies are so endemic that both leading Democrat candidates (Obama and Clinton) chose to run against America in this political season, on a platform of “change” that is a subtle repudiation of the cowboy values of America.

But this change wasn’t just change is a specific way, it was change in general. The Obama campaign in particular adopted change and gave no policy platform as an alternative. The core theme of the campaign, until we all got distracted with Sara, was the vapidity of Obama and his proposals. It drove Hillary nuts. Obama was just about change. And change is about rejection.

And while they can’t articulate it, those angry people you see in your video clips know instinctively, or at least think, that they are being rejected and told they are wrong. The reaction to that kind of undermined credibility is often rage.

Make no mistake, the platform of change means that something must be wrong, that someone must be wrong, and when used as broadly as the Dems have this season it translates into everyone who isn’t with us is wrong. It’s not a platform of acceptance but one of rejection.

So I’d be careful with your characterization. The anger out there is real, and it is inarticulate, and it feels threatened because it is under attack. When that happens especially in a period of economic unrest these emotions erupt. But don’t confuse the prime mover of these cultural emotions with the result.


(my web site is usually not about politics, but this is a very political time, so...)

Fran said...

Exactly, Ben. One of the many problems, as I see it, is that the Republicans have worked so very hard to fill us with fear about happenings and people-not-like-us, that they're reaping what they've sowed, and I wouldn't mind it if it was just affecting them.

But it isn't.

I don't honestly think McCain is racist, although I suspect Palin is.

I'm not saying all Republicans are hatemongers; I have some friends who are staunch Republicans and they're not totally crazed. But I think the Republican party has drawn on and courted the fringe element for so long that they've tapped into the truly fanatical base, and that lot is hard -- if not impossible -- to control.

It's like the extremists don't feel the need to hide behind social conformity, that they are justified in promoting violence. Those hate-fueled fires are growing.

Yes, I do believe they're entitled to their weird beliefs, but I also believe they're not entitled to act on them to the detriment of others. That's not a distinction I see being made. I suspect we're going to see more acts of violence before this is over.

I think McCain's attempt to calm the crowd was too little, too late, and besides, it didn't work.

I most sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I think it's going to get a lot uglier in the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

I hope it doesn't get worse. I think Mccain is honorable, as is Palin. They need to control their crowds.

But it's not as if the Democrats are the party of purity or something. Like Al Gore telling his followers that it is okay for them to vandalize in the name of preventing global warming. Or Barack Obama telling his supporters to get in people's faces, or some of his followers in chicago preventing and protesting against somebody going on a chicago talk show to discuss Obama's ties to Ayers. Neither party's hands are clean in this.

Kitsuno said...

When I saw the "angry mob" joke on the Daily show the other night, I thought it was just that - a joke. Now I'm somewhat disturbed.

David Farnell said...

I have a question that a few Google attempts did not clear up--maybe somebody here knows the answer:

In his long, illustrious career, has John McCain ever "associated with a former terrorist"? Like, for example, did he ever attend a state function with Yassir Arafat? Has he ever shaken hands with, say, one of his former captors from Vietnam?

Because these things are the equivalent of Obama's association with Bill Ayers. If the McCain camp is going to object to Obama "palling around with terrorists," then has McCain refused to do so himself?

Of course, if he did, we would consider that rude, even somewhat crazy behavior. Enemies of America need to be fought with determination--until they're no longer enemies. After that, we sometimes have to be willing to work with them if they're willing to work with us. And sometimes, like Ayers, they turn into forces for good.

Does McCain mean to imply, by his current criticism of Obama, that he would not deal with Kim Jong Il in any way other than war? Is that how unstable this man has become? Or is it just that he's jettisoned every last bit of honor he had just to get a job?

There was a time I preferred McCain over Gore as president. There was a time I thought "Obama, McCain...hell, wouldn't it be nice if one of them became president and the other one VP? And I wouldn't care which was which." That time is past. Not only do I hope that McCain is pummeled by a tidal wave of support for Obama, but I hope that he and his dippy insult-to-our-intelligence of a running mate both lose their offices when their reelections roll around.

Maybe then the Republican Party can get to work on returning to something that I recognize.

Anonymous said...

It is upsetting that people in general can muster this kind of animosity for people they've never met, regardless of which side of the political fence they fall. But it's hardly just a McCain-camp problem:

In your words, what does it say about a party when it is attracts supporters like these? Does it cut both ways?

Barry Eisler said...

Thanks, Mike, and agreed, the people in that video are appalling. But do you really think calling Sarah Palin a cunt is equivalent to the kind of behavior I criticized in my post?

May I propose an exercise? For the sake of argument, could you try to distinguish what is going on on the McCain side with what you've brought up WRT Obama? I would recommend focusing on the potential for violence and on campaign complicity. If you'd rather not give this a try, I or someone else will spell it out for you. It's just that the distinction is so obvious I wonder why you'd suggest there's any equivalency.


Barry Eisler said...

By happy coincidence, today Andrew Sullivan has some excellent links on the disease (apparently communicable) of false equivalence:

-- Barry

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thoughts. I always appreciate your well-stated reflections. And let me say that I am in no way defending the appalling behavior of any of these individuals, nor do I believe they accurately reflect the general character of either candidate or party.

Ok, the potential for violence - I think there are nutcases on both sides of the fence whose views have moved them to aggression.

Here's a story of 2 Obama supporters who threw Molotov coctails at a McCain campaign sign posted in a Portland family's yard.

Heard outside a Republican rally in Philadelphia where Palin was speaking: “Let’s stone her, old school!”

Some of the video you originally posted label Obama a terrorist, which has understandably outraged his supporters. But this is a term that was applied to Pres. Bush by his detractors as well.

Comedians often use political news as fodder, though comedic crosshairs pointed at conservative targets usually tend to be more violent in nature. Sandra Bernhard is the latest Obama supporter to take aim, lobbing some great gang rape jokes toward Gov. Palin.

A few particularly passionate scamps spraypainted “Republican means slavery” on the door of a campaign headquarters in South Carolina this past week.

Imagine seeing "Abort Obama" stickers being sported at McCain rallies...

Heck, I’ve seen artwork at a recent Democratic rally referring to Gov. Palin as a M.I.L.P.: Mother I’d Like to Punch.
I guess my only point is that we should never judge the many by the actions of the few. There are nutcases on both sides of the fence, vastly outnumbered by their calm and genuinely well-meaning brethren. I recall a particular rally in Philadelphia where Barack Obama was lustily booed by his own supported after praising John McCain’s service to America and calling for civilized debate of the issues (interestingly, he didn’t directly respond to this retort). McCain met with a similar reaction when he asked his supporters to respect Obama. But the question remains, does political restraint apply only to Republicans? I don’t really want to step into the familiar “mainstream media is biased blah blah blah” chant, but from my armchair, it just seems that one side’s lack of decorum is noticed more readily than the other. But maybe it’s just me.

Tia Hu said...

Hi Barry and All,

That darned flu is finally going away now. I haven't been that sick in a long time. And yes, feeling better physically has helped my perspective.

I know this message is rather long; but please bear with me.

Barry, I get it now. Why you did things the way you did. So sorry I over reacted. That was about me, not you. You are still a voice of reason in all this political mess.

And what I've found in this campaign I haven't seen since I was a kid. I'm 56, so I grew up in a time of huge racial tensions and fights for civil rights for both Blacks and for women in this country.

I don't believe that all McCain supporters are racists and hate mongers. I know my son and his wife certainly aren't. They want to stay with the Republican Party with the hope that it will again become more moderate. And I know quite a few people like that.

But what I've run into in regard to how people from other Republicans more like those in these videos, has become very personal for me. I have been receiving hate mail from supporters of McCain and even some Libertarian and other very conservative voters. I know that the people of this forum don't know me well; but I'm fairly well known in this country and internationally in other circles. So I get a lot of email anyway.

It's just that when I said I was probably voting for Barack Obama; this hate mail started pouring in, and yes, these people were saying the same kind of racist, religiously intolerant, and even threatening things. And even telling me I should should get run out of the country with Obama and sent with him, (and excuse me, but these are some of the actual words used), "Nigger, Arab, Muslim terrorist family back to Africa." And that, "People like me who support terrorists shouldn't even be allowed to live in America at all." Only the spelling is usually more incorrect in those letters.

I'm not exaggerating. And obviously these people have not been prompted by reporters, etc. They are doing this on their own volition.

So I decided to try an experiment. I sent out messages that I am not a Democrat, that I am an Independent voter, and that I hadn't decided for sure who I am voting for, and I have respected McCain for many years. Also, that when the party was more moderate, that I had been a Republican for several years. And that I am still considering voting for McCain. All of which has been true.

As soon as I did that, all of a sudden the hate mail and threats stopped, and I even got a few apologies from these conservatives who had been doing this to me.

I am a truly peace loving person who would never deliberately harm any soul unless there was absolutely no other choice in defending my life, or the life of another. And most of these people who had been saying these hateful, threatening things to me know that.

And please listen to this. Since announcing that I might be voting for McCain; I have not received even one nasty, threatening letter of any kind from any of Obama's supporters, or other liberal candidate supporters....not one.

I gave it some time here to see what would happen.

People, when a person can't even support a Democratic candidate in this country without receiving hate mail and threats to get run out of the country from the opposition; something has gone terribly wrong.

I feel like I've been transported back to the 1950s and 1960s again with all the racial and religious tensions, what is again bordering on rioting, and vicious things that happened back then with those who opposed the inclusion of Black people and women receiving their full civil rights in this country. Only now, these people have included Arabs and Muslims on their list of hates.

These more ignorant and violent form of McCain Republican and other very conservative supporters don't seem to even slightly get it that they are acting like terrorists themselves in how they are treating Obama and his supporters. This is the politics of heavy coercion, threats to personal safety, and getting run out of the U.S. for supporting Obama. They call him an Arab, a Muslim, a racist, and a terrorist. Yet Obama has proven over and over again that he is none of these things. To have McCain supporters and other conservative candidate supporters behave this way is truly the politics of terrorism. They are projecting onto Obama and his supporters what they themselves have become.

And I reiterate that NOT all McCain supporters or supporters of other very conservative candidates are behaving like this. So my deep respect to those of you who are more moderate, or at least more respectful of the basic human and civil rights of those who do not share your political views.

Well, in the light of this hideous turn of events in getting threatened like this from these supporters of the extreme right wing, combined with believing that Obama has a better understanding of the changes needed in this country; I'm definitely voting for Obama now.

I don't agree with all of Obama's ideas and policies; but I still truly believe he will do better than McCain in his leadership. I won't get into policy differences in this particular blog because that isn't the main theme.

I am heart sick that this has happened. I have Arab, Black, and Muslim friends who are terrified right now. These are good, peace loving, law abiding, moderate people who live good lives. I have friends from all ethnic and religious heritages and preferences, and we all get along just fine. Now in this current political environment, that apparently makes us to far too many, seditionists and people who are trying to destroy America by being terrorists. When all we are actually doing is continuing to live our peaceful, responsible, law abiding, moderate lives. We love this country and want very much to see it heal. I'm not Muslim or an Arab or Black; but I stand firmly beside my friends who are. They don't deserve this. None of we who support Obama, and support full civil rights and liberties for all in this country deserve to be treated like this.

And this profiling of all Muslims and Arabic people as terrorists has got to stop.

This election and the prejudices involved bode not well for our country, and not well for our hurting world.

This has to stop. People are getting threatened, and hurt. And I'm talking just about hurt feelings. This is the kind of environment that creates assassinations of Presidents, Presidential candidates, and civil rights activists. I personally remember very well the assassinations of President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Only now, this takes on international implications and consequences in this new coming of profound racism, religious intolerance, denials of basic human rights, and denials basic civil rights and liberties for all who are citizens of the U.S.

It has to stop. If it doesn't it will destroy our own country right here in the U.S. Because adding this racial and religious tension to all the economic problems, lack good public education, lack of health care for millions, etc., is a cauldron of disaster brewing rapidly to a boil at this point.

I truly hope things calm down after the elections. But if they don't; then we are in even deeper trouble than most would surmise. I've lived long enough and seen enough in my lifetime to know that.

I'm supporting the politics of respect, dignity, and honesty on all sides and in all political parties.

We can not use other people's attitudes and behaviors as an excuse for our own attitudes and behaviors. We are each 100% responsible for our own thoughts, attitudes, emotions, actions, and reactions/responses. It starts here, with me. And with every other individual. No excuses.

I love our country, and she has gotten very ill in too many ways. Let's heal her together. She needs all of us genuinely working together. And if we don't make a commitment to work together, we will all pay the price, and our children and grandchildren will pay the price even more.


~Tia Hu