This is a country that revels in great oratorical homage and introspection, usually after something tragic or unseemly has occurred. Tributes can go on for what seems an eternity, as if a superfluity of words can make up for the fact that many times the ones paying homage, are the very ones who savaged the character and good name of injured person while they were hail and hearty. At the end of all the sanctimonious posturing I am usually left hoping that someone will have the courage to rip the façade off the false platitudes and deliver the type of brutally honest message like Princess Diana’s brother gave in her eulogy.
I say all that because I am shocked and alarmed at the level of the attacks both Palin and McCain have launched at Senator Obama. I have lived in the United States for almost 40 years, having arrived shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. I remember distinctly my father taking me to Newark to show me the buildings that had been burned to the ground in the outpouring of grief and anger after that fateful time in history. And while I’m not sure what his point was in taking me there, it was an eye opening experience that I have never forgotten.
Forty years later, I can say times have changed, I live in Alabama and while I exercise caution in going out at night, it is nothing more than the prudence I would practice if I lived in any city, in any country. I am, however, aware as I drive by homes with rebel flags displayed, that there are still areas where resentment still simmers and that not everyone wishes me well. I am sure Sarah Palin and John McCain are also fully aware of this fact, which is why I find their behavior over the past few days totally reprehensible and even more so because members of their own party who should be speaking up have chosen not to.
The United States is a country of laws where people are allowed to agree and disagree on a variety of issues, without the type of vitriol being spouted at these campaign events. When is it ever acceptable in a civilized society for anyone to yell “Off with his head!” or “Kill him” or “Traitor!” without being called out by the speaker. Is this the level to which this country has sunk? And what about those “decent” people who espouse such “conservative Christian” values, why have they not spoken out and distanced themselves from this type of onslaught. Are they not aware of the quote by English philosopher Edmund Burke, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ Is this what the Republican Party has become, are they once again reverting to their once shameful history, as a haven for perpetrators of this type of evil. Is this what is meant by “appealing to the base.” Are those code words for the type of incendiary violence Palin and McCain hope will resurrect itself, while they wait passively, speech at the ready for something disastrous to happen, so they can pay homage in dubious tributes and expressions of grief. Yes I’m saying it! And I’m saying it now! Because I’m angry, I’m not running for office and I don’t feel the need to be diplomatic, or mince my words.
God forbid anything untoward should befall the Senator from Illinois and God forbid any of these unrighteous, vile perpetrators of this type of malevolence should be allowed to grace the front door of the White House, because it would indeed send the strongest message to the world that we have sold our souls and that we are indeed a nation of violent men, who will use whatever method is at hand in order to secure victory, no matter what the cost.