Palin’s words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee “palling around” with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn’t see their America?
In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers’ day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.
Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as “not like us” is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.
Most troubling, however, is how allowing racism to creep into the discussion serves McCain’s purpose so well. As the fallout from Wright’s sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America’s promise to treat all people equally.
John McCain occasionally looks back on decisions with regret. He has apologized for opposing a holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. He has apologized for refusing to call for the removal of a Confederate flag from South Carolina’s Capitol.
When the 2008 campaign is over McCain might regret appeals such as Palin’s perhaps more so if he wins.
Kim Priestap responds:
She called him a radical and a socialist who doesn’t agree with our view of American exceptionalism, but of course they don’t hear that in her comments. Because she dares to question his judgment in who he chooses to associate with, the Associated (with Obama) Press to goes out of its way to paint her and anyone else who does the same as a racist. Yes, 2008 is the year journalism died.
I think it’s been dead. But the campaign of Barack Obama for president has seen enough nails put in the “media objectivity” coffin to actually make the age of impartial journalism at most news outlets officially dead – and buried.
Update: Jeff Goldstein unloads.