Saturday, October 25, 2008

Give the kid a break

So they have arrested Ashley Todd and charged her with making a false police report, supported by her own admission that she made up the whole awful story - a story that stroked the deep racial animosities of her neighbors and fellow McCain supporters. Todd, 20 years old and apparently a troubled young woman, needs help. I hope she gets it, and that she is able to live this down without any more harm.

But what of all those on the right who saw political potential in this disgraceful sham of a story? And what of John McCain, whose campaign has whipped up the resentments, fears, and prejudices of the intolerant and under-educated ranks of rednecks, racists and religious extremists?

There is a stain that attaches to people who play the race card, and it is now stapled to John McCain's forehead. If he wants to remove it, he is going to have to speak out, at length and in clear language, condemning those who have attempted to divide America on racial and religious terms.

He won't do that, of course. Just like Hillary, he has painted himself into a corner - just as her campaign in its final thrust boiled down to a naked appeal to racial resentment, his campaign is now all about fear - the fear of being beaten up at an ATM by a big black man, the fear of having a black man in the Oval Office, and the fear that their tenuous hold on lower middle class status may slip away if the lives of black Americans improve in the least.

John Moody, EVP at FOX News, said this: "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting."

Where are you John McCain?

Let's all hope that McCain's defeat leads to a reappraisal of the value of race-baiting in American politics. Let's hope that our future is one in which a story like Ashley Todd's is dismissed as irrelevant, that the racism that lends such a story its power is finally and forever discredited and abandoned.

Until that day. let us condemn those who insult our intelligence and our character by playing on our fears and prejudices. Shame on you, John McCain!

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