Yesterday, I wrote about the sickening turn that the John McCain campaign has taken as it tries to link Barack Obama to former terrorist William Ayers. There are two ways to fight this shameful tactic. The first is to expose it for what it is and warn everyone you know of the dangerous places to which this rhetoric can lead. The other way to disinfect the venom spewing from Sarah Palin’s mouth is to drown out her hateful message with a positive one. That is what I hope to do in this entry.
I have two videos for you. The first is from a New Yorker sponsored panel discussion called “If I Were Running this Campaign”. The video features Democratic strategist Donna Brazile talking about the absurdity of racism, how far we’ve come from when she was a child and how we have reached a brand new day. Her message of recognition of progress, of hope, and of strong determination to never go back again cuts through the choking, noxious fumes emanating from the McCain campaign.
The second video is from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, where she interviewed the Democratic Governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley. Barack is enjoying a lead in NC; some polls putting him ahead of McCain beyond statistical error. The kick that I got out of this video comes at approximately the five minute mark.
Until I heard Mike Beasley say it, it never occurred to me that there could be a Reverse Bradley Effect. Once he said it, it made perfect sense. When all the good ole boys get together and talk about how they could never vote for a “negro”, there is an element of macho swagger to it. An element of giving in to peer pressure. (You’d think a lot of us never graduated from high school!). When they get in the voting booth, shielded from the glare of their ignorant friends, there is the distinct possibility that they may say “McCain just ain’t gonna cut it for me the next four years. I’m just gonna have to vote for the negro. I just won’t tell nobody.” Yes folks, there is a distinct possibility that economics may trump bigotry this time around but we won’t know it from the polls because the bigots can’t bear to have their friends know their intentions.
Listening to Governor Easley made my day! It reminded me that bigotry needs the mob to survive. When we deal with each other one on one, with no one watching, and no pressure to conform to expectations, we take each other as individuals. It’s when the forces of society impinge upon us that we give in to irrational prejudices. In previous posts I’ve mentioned the song “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” from the musical South Pacific.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!
Maybe this year a good number of us, when we go into that voting booth, will focus on the issues and forget what we’ve been taught by the likes of Sarah Palin. Perhaps being behind that curtain away from the glare of a prejudiced society, we’ll be able to vote for our best interest. If we pull the lever for Obama it will be because we think he’s the right man for the job. If we pull the lever for McCain it won’t be because we can’t bring ourselves to vote for a black man.
Maybe this year when we’re behind the curtain, we can do the right thing. And if we emerge from the booth and lie about doing the right thing, to save face with our bigoted friends, well maybe that’s not so bad. Maybe a little bit of progress has been made.