Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Politics of Fear

PerryScope: by Perry Diaz

Never in the history of the United States was "politics of fear" used to bring out the worse in people and sow fear in them. And by doing so, John McCain has created a "lynch mob" mentality among white voters.

McCain unleashed his running mate, Sarah Palin, to attack Barack Obama with lies and innuendoes. At a Florida rally, the event turned so ugly that it prompted the Secret Service to investigate an alleged death threat when someone shouted "Kill him! Kill him!" Others shouted "terrorist" in reaction to Palin's inflammatory rhetoric that Obama was palling around with Bill Ayers -- co-founder of the radical Weather Underground in the 1960's -- whom she called a "domestic terrorist" As Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, says in his column, "Unleashed, Palin makes a pit bull look tame." Yes, indeed. Palin's vitriolic attacks against Obama have earned her the moniker "Attack Dog."

It is interesting to note that Obama was only eight years old when Ayers was involved in the student unrest in the 1960's. Today, Ayers has reformed and is now a respectable professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois and holds the title of "Distinguished Professor."

In an attempt to tone down Palin's hate-mongering tirades, McCain told a Minnesota rally, "We want to fight, and I will fight, but we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments and I will respect him." McCain said further, "I want to be president ... but I have to tell you that he is a decent person and a person you don't have to be scared of as president of the United States." But the crowd booed him -- Sarah had already turned his supporters into a lynch mob.

Obama, who never digressed from his focus on the country's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression 80 years ago, rebuked McCain for preaching "anger and division." At an Ohio rally, Obama said, "In the last couple of days we have seen a barrage of nasty insinuations and attacks and I am sure we will see much more over the next 25 days." Indeed, the intensity of personal attacks against Obama has increased dramatically. At another Palin rally, a supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African-American camera man and told him, "Sit down, boy!" -- an apparent warning that tells African-Americans to stay away from McCain rallies.

In his column titled "McCain and Palin's lynch-mob tactics," Tod Robberson said, "It's increasingly worrying that John McCain and Sarah Palin are embracing the acceptability of campaign tactics that play to the most racist and intolerant tendencies among their supporters. John McCain knows that Barack Obama has no links whatsoever to terrorism, and yet he's doing everything he can to create that linkage. And he's unleashing Sarah Palin to do his dirty work while McCain claims to be above this condemnable form of negative campaigning. This is unconscionable, and it shows how desperate John McCain has become. He promised repeatedly that he wouldn't campaign this way. And he said that when politicians campaign that way, it shows how little vision they have of the future. But most dangerous in this form of campaigning is that he and Sarah Palin are standing by, with smiles on their faces, while their supporters yell things like, 'Kill him!' in reference to Obama. They have done nothing to calm down this lynch-mob mentality. Instead, they are doing everything they can to promote it. John McCain must make a full-court, public push to stop this 'kill him' mentality now."

These hate-mongering attacks by the McCain campaign started in earnest after the Vice Presidential Debate two weeks ago; however, I have been receiving hundreds of hate Obama emails since the primary season from -- of all people! -- Filipino-Americans. I received an email from Ed F. titled "More Family Pictures of the new First Family??" which contains photos of Obama's "African heritage." I received another email from Elena A. titled "Is America FOR SALE to the Arabs?" which seems to suggest that Obama is an "Arab" and therefore a Muslim.

I received an email from Thelma E. criticizing support of Obama. She said that she is not voting for Obama because he is a Muslim. She said that Obama used the Koran when he took his oath of office as Senator. I replied saying that there is a picture in the Internet which shows that he used the Bible, not the Koran.

The other day, I got a call from Celly C. She told me that Obama grew up in Indonesia and since Indonesia is a Muslim country, therefore Obama is Muslim. She also said that Obama is linked to terrorists including Libya's President Kaddafi. I told her that these statements aren't true.

I received another email from Jess H.R. which says: "Hi you all!!! Hope you don't mind me sharing this open letter with you all which is written by someone I don't even know but I truly agree with his opinions about Barack Obana as a future president of this country. In all my life time here in the United States, I never thought that there would be a time when I would really fear for the security of this country. The opinions expressed in this letter are so much like mine, and also really like my opinions as well. It is only that the author expressed them better than I can ever do. My mind is so worried , and my physical being so scared and being so I don't think I would be able to delineate those same opinions better myself. Urging you all therefore to read and give this letter some thought, and decide whether which of the two candidates have the best interest and serve this country better." The open letter that Jess attached to his email was another hate Obama letter. It has nothing to do with real issues such as the economic crisis and financial meltdown.

What I found distressing from all the emails I received is that the senders didn't seem to care about the real issues. They indulge in "politics of fear." As one of my readers said, "I think they're trying very hard to out-white the whites, out-conservative the conservatives, and out-Republican the Republicans." If that is the case, I feel sorry for them. This election will be won by the candidate who can convince the voters that he is the one who can handle the economic problems of the country. And recent polls showed that a majority of American believed that Obama is the man who can do the job.

As Bill Clinton said in 1992 when he ran against then President George HW Bush, "It's the economy, stupid," Obama can say the same thing. But this time around, the economy is worse than it was in 1992.