Horror of horror! Run for the hills!
The sign went up Sunday evening, bold black letters against the stark white background of the marquee at the Colony South Hotel & Conference Center in Clinton: “Country First. McCain/Palin.”
By daybreak, pandemonium had broken loose all across heavily Democratic Prince George’s County. Many local supporters of Democrat Barack Obama, jolted by the message as they headed down Branch Avenue on their Monday morning commutes, grabbed cellphones and BlackBerrys to notify friends. Operators of neighborhood e-mail group lists cried foul to their memberships. The NAACP logged calls. Community leaders demanded boycotts of the hotel, a common venue for Democratic events.
“Businesspeople have to be mindful of the sentiments and sensibilities of their market trading area, and Prince George’s County is overwhelmingly for Obama,” said community activist Arthur Turner of Kettering, who was among those advocating a boycott. “People I have talked to look at the sign as a slap in the face. They feel it was blatant disrespect. . . . I have heard people say they will no longer patronize Colony South because of that disrespect.”
The outcry over the hotel marquee tapped into the passion — and sometimes anger — that has characterized this fall’s presidential campaign. Supporters of Republican candidate John McCain have vented their rage at rallies this week, applauding thunderously as McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”
Prince George’s, though, is clearly Obama Country. As the nation’s wealthiest mostly black community, where about 77 percent of registered voters are Democrats, residents have Obama placards in their yards, bumper stickers on their cars and the candidate’s visage on their T-shirts.
The marquee supporting the GOP ticket in “an area that is strongly African American was like putting a stink bomb in the middle of the living room,” said University of Maryland political Professor Ron Walters. “What it does show is the emotions that are around this campaign and this election.”
Colony South General Manager Alan Vahabzadeh said that the hotel, one of several Washington area businesses that has dared to venture into the political thicket, got the message after about 100 phone calls and three dozen e-mails. The sign came down Wednesday afternoon.
“I didn’t even realize it was going to be like this,” he said in an interview. The last thing “we want to do is lose business,” he added.
But Friday afternoon, motorists noticed new signs — broad banners attached to wooden stakes in the hotel’s front yard — again touting the Republicans.
Vahabzadeh did not return later calls seeking comment, but an employee said the phones were again ringing with complaints.
And Democratic activists started talking boycott. That could mean canceling political events at the hotel and urging residents to skip its Wednesday night karaoke events and Sunday brunches.
“While a business has the right to display what it chooses, the public has a right to show its contempt for that decision, including boycotting,” said Mel Franklin, president of the Greater Marlboro Democratic Club.
But check this out:
Other business owners who have gotten into the political game have drawn less grief. At the Big Bad Woof pet store in liberal Takoma Park, bumper stickers urging people to “Vote for Bark Obama 2008” are available for sale. No such items were available for “John McCanine.”
At B. Smith’s restaurant in Union Station recently, a waiter sported an Obama campaign button. At the Old Town Trading Post in Alexandria, which sells hemp necklaces, African figurines and incense, among other novelties, an array of McCain T-shirts and a bumper sticker that reads “Friends don’t let friends vote Democrat” are available for sale. A giant sign at Parson’s Farm nursery in Prince William County proclaims the area “McCain Country.”
Richard D’Amico, a stylist at Axis, a hair salon on Connecticut Avenue NW, has declared his work area a “Sarah Palin-Free Zone” by posting on his mirror a photo he cut out of a magazine marked with a red circle and a slash across it. The salon has Obama bags in the window. None of the clients has protested or demanded equal time for McCain, he said.
“It was such a topic of conversation — everybody wants to talk about Sarah Palin. Even my clients stop me on the street and say, ‘How about that Sarah Palin?’ ” said D’Amico, an Obama supporter. “So I decided I had to put a sign up.”
The political partisanship, residents said, is their right as Americans.
Some Prince George’s Democrats acknowledge as much.
“This is a highly charged election where the stakes are extremely high and emotions are running high on all fronts,” said Orlan Johnson, a lawyer who lives in Bowie and is on Obama’s national finance team. “But it is difficult for me to believe that individuals shouldn’t continue to have the opportunity to exercise their right to free speech. It would be un-American to not allow that to happen.”
Others say residents have a right to register their dissent.
As usual, they get it wrong. Nobody’s talking about taking away anyone’s rights – it’s about whether or not it’s right to say/do in the first place, or whether or not it’s right to say/do it in the manner it was said/done.
Another day, another example of Democrat hypocrisy. What’s good for me is not necessarily good for thee, etc.