In a country of more than 300 million people, there are bound to be some who reflect humanity’s darker side. And it seems that John McCain’s campaign has attracted many of these sickos. The most recent example is Ashley Todd, a McCain campaign worker who made up a story of being robbed, pinned to the ground and having the letter “B” scratched on her face by a big, black Obama supporter. The 20-year-old college student from Texas admitted Friday that her story was fabricated, and police said she would be charged with making a false report.
Todd (photo at right) told investigators she was attempting to use an ATM when a man approached her from behind, put a knife to her throat and demanded money. She said she handed the assailant $60 and walked away. According to her report, the man then noticed a McCain sticker on her car, became angry and punched her in the back of the head, knocking her to the ground and telling her “you are going to be a Barack supporter.”
She said he continued to punch and kick her while threatening “to teach her a lesson for being a McCain supporter.” He then sat on her chest, pinned her arms with his knees and scratched a backward letter “B” into her face with a dull knife, Todd said.
But, confronted with inconsistencies in her story and video scenes from the ATM site that showed she was not even there at the time she claimed she was attacked, Todd broke down and confessed she had concocted the report and scratched the “B” into her own cheek.
This story would prompt more pity than anger, were it not for the way in which the McCain campaign attempted to make political use of it. The campaign pounced on the fantasy, evoking one of the oldest myths in America – the violation of white womanhood by a primitive black male. Ultra-conservative bloggers and media outlets, including the Drudge Report on the Internet and television’s Fox News, played up Todd’s tall tale, eager to paint Obama and his followers as savages unfit for decent American society. And buying into this improbable story, both McCain and Sarah Palin personally called to console Todd.
This is just one example of the incendiary course the McCain-Palin campaign is taking as the presidential election draws near and the polls increasingly favor Obama. I received a flier in the mail accusing Obama of being “soft on crime” and consorting with terrorists. Robo-calls are repeating the same fiction. Palin claims that Obama “pals around with terrorists,” and McCain warns that Obama is linked to voter registration fraud, which threatens “to destroy the fabric of democracy.”
Shouts of “terrorist,” “traitor,” “kill him” and “off with his head” are heard at their rallies, and Palin emphasizes in her speeches that Obama “is not like us.” Surrogates accuse the Democratic presidential candidate of being anti-American and stress McCain’s appeal to the “the real America.” McCain is claiming that Obama is a “socialist” and is planning to “take your money” (presumably to give it to poor, black people).
This kind of divisive demagoguery inevitably stirs up racial prejudice. I saw a man carrying a monkey with an “Obama” hat at a televised Palin rally, and Obama monkey dolls are offered for sale on the Internet. Poll after poll suggests that a portion of the white electorate will vote against Obama because of his race.
The most virulent fabrications are on the Internet, where every aspect of Obama’s life is under attack. Among other accusations, he is painted as a Muslim (even though nothing in the Constitution bars Muslims from American politics), a native of Kenya – or Indonesia – (who would then be disqualified from becoming U.S. President), and a black-liberation agent who was recruited and trained by revolutionaries. A lawyer named Philip J. Berg is suing to block Obama’s presidency on the grounds that he is not American by birth. And a perennial political gadfly named Andy Martin asserts that Obama is afraid to show his birth certificate because his real father was a civil rights activist named Frank Marshall, not his mother’s Kenyan husband.
This ugliness is more than distasteful. It is incendiary. With only days remaining in this historic – and at times repulsive – campaign, we can only pray that the seething racial hatred now coming to the surface does not boil over into physical violence.