Besides her post, which is interesting in its own right, the comments also caught my attention. Several people were of the opinion that McCain didn't intend for his rhetoric to stir up the level of militant racism that his supporters are now exhibiting. Some people feel like he's now trying to turn course and discourage people from reacting to his words in the way that many of them have. At the same time, some of the commenters on Belle's thread expressed very different sentiments about his running mate's intentions. No one seemed to have any doubts about whether Sarah Palin is purposely inciting violence at these rallies. Now, I completely agree about what's being said with regards to Palin. She isn't backing down one bit. However, I'm just not understanding where folks are coming from with this McCain theory.
I am more than a little bit perplexed when I hear folks say things along the lines of, "Boy, McCain sure has let this election change him from the fairly decent bipartisan sorta guy he used to be" or "I don't think he meant to open up a Pandora's box THIS much". I'm sorry, I just don't see it. This is the same guy who voted against making Martin Luther King day a Federal holiday back in 1983. He wasn't even fifty years old at the time. This is the same guy who was still calling Asians "gooks" back in 2000. This guy has purposely fanned the flames of racism in very precise ways.
In the past couple of days, he's made a couple of statements that some people see as proof he's trying to dial back the hatred. I'm sorry, but this just looks like a textbook case of how whites use racism. How many times have we seen highly influential white political figures make the most blatantly racist statements and then let those statements stand long enough for the virulently racist people in this country to use as fodder for their causes? After awhile, the politician then comes back and claims that their view is really not as extreme as their original statements/actions might suggest. Let's examine some cases:
In 1984, when Helms faced his toughest opponent in Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt, the late Bill Peterson, one of the most evenhanded reporters I have ever known, summed up what "some said was the meanest Senate campaign in history."
A year before the election, when public polls showed Helms trailing by 20 points, he launched a Senate filibuster against the bill making the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday. Thurmond and the Senate majority were on the other side, but the next poll showed Helms had halved his deficit.
All year, Peterson reported, "Helms campaign literature sounded a drumbeat of warnings about black voter-registration drives. . . . On election eve, he accused Hunt of being supported by 'homosexuals, the labor union bosses and the crooks' and said he feared a large 'bloc vote.' What did he mean? 'The black vote,' Helms said." He won, 52 percent to 48 percent.
Philadelphia, county seat of Mississippi's Neshoba County, is famous for a couple of things. That is where three civil rights workers -- Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman -- were murdered in 1964. And that is where, in 1980, Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan chose to launch his election campaign, with a ringing endorsement of "states' rights."
It was bitter symbolism for black Americans (though surely not just for black Americans). Countless observers have noted that Reagan took the Republican Party from virtual irrelevance to the ascendancy it now enjoys. The essence of that transformation, we shouldn't forget, is the party's successful wooing of the race-exploiting Southern Democrats formerly known as Dixiecrats. And Reagan's Philadelphia appearance was an important bouquet in that courtship.
I don't accuse Reagan of racism, though while he served, I did note what seemed to be his indifference to the concerns of black Americans -- issues ranging from civil rights enforcement and attacks on "welfare queens" to his refusal to act seriously against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He gets full credit from me for the good things he did -- including presiding over the end of international communism. But he also legitimized, by his broad wink at it, racial indifference -- and worse.
Duke pioneered the now common effort on the far right to camouflage racist ideas in hot-button issues like affirmative action and immigration, successfully appealing to race and class resentments. Similarly, he was one of the first neo-Nazi and Klan leaders to discontinue the use of Nazi and Klan regalia and ritual, as well as other traditional displays of race hatred, and to cultivate media attention.
When he was governor of South Carolina in 1948, Thurmond ran for President on a "states' rights" (code for "white power") ticket, advocating "segregation of all the races". In 1964 Thurmond stumped the south for the blatantly racist presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater (as, of course, did the independent counsel Kenneth Starr). Ever since, in his deplorably long political career, Thurmond has continued to appeal to the racial prejudice of an electorate which has rewarded him with an eternal place in the Senate.
This man's basic crime was that he refused to work on a Saturday when the white plantation owner, William Walker, demanded his presence. Boss Walker, enraged by Osborne's refusal, stormed over to his shack carrying his .32-calibre pistol and the club with which he regularly beat his tenants. Osborne was sleeping and woke to find Boss Walker standing over him with a pistol. He reached for his own shotgun and fired, killing Walker.
Even in the south and even in the 1940s, Osborne was entitled to be tried by a jury of his peers and to rely on his right to self-defence. The Supreme Court had ruled just a year before the trial that the exclusion of blacks from juries was unconstitutional. Yet Thurmond allowed an all-white jury to try Osborne. He failed in his summing up to mention the right to self-defence. And when the jury duly found Osborne guilty, he sentenced him to death.
The early 1990s writings became liabilities for Paul long before last week's New Republic story. Back in 1996, Paul narrowly eked out a congressional victory over Democrat Lefty Morris, who made the newsletters one of his main campaign issues, damning them both for their racial content and for their advocacy of drug legalization. At the time, Paul defended the statements that appeared under his name, claiming that they expressed his "philosophical differences" with Democrats and had been "taken out of context." He finally disavowed them in a 2001 interview with Texas Monthly, explaining that his campaign staff had convinced him at the time that it would be too "confusing" to attribute them to a ghostwriter...Is it just me or is there not a clear (and often rather effective) pattern that McCain is following? Nothing that he's done so far, including his latest mealy-mouthed words, differs from the same strategy that all these other racists have benefited from adopting.
...The publishing operation was lucrative. A tax document from June 1993—wrapping up the year in which the Political Report had published the "welfare checks" comment on the L.A. riots—reported an annual income of $940,000 for Ron Paul & Associates, listing four employees in Texas (Paul's family and Rockwell) and seven more employees around the country. If Paul didn't know who was writing his newsletters, he knew they were a crucial source of income and a successful tool for building his fundraising base for a political comeback.
The tenor of Paul's newsletters changed over the years. The ones published between Paul's return to private life after three full terms in congress (1985) and his Libertarian presidential bid (1988) notably lack inflammatory racial or anti-gay comments. The letters published between Paul's first run for president and his return to Congress in 1996 are another story—replete with claims that Martin Luther King "seduced underage girls and boys," that black protesters should gather "at a food stamp bureau or a crack house" rather than the Statue of Liberty, and that AIDS sufferers "enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick."
Eric Dondero, Paul's estranged former volunteer and personal aide, worked for Paul on and off between 1987 and 2004 (back when he was named "Eric Rittberg"), and since the Iraq war has become one of the congressman's most vociferous and notorious critics. By Dondero's account, Paul's inner circle learned between his congressional stints that "the wilder they got, the more bombastic they got with it, the more the checks came in. You think the newsletters were bad? The fundraising letters were just insane from that period." Cato Institute President Ed Crane told reason he recalls a conversation from some time in the late 1980s in which Paul claimed that his best source of congressional campaign donations was the mailing list for The Spotlight, the conspiracy-mongering, anti-Semitic tabloid run by the Holocaust denier Willis Carto until it folded in 2001.