Friday, October 10, 2008

Fear

One night recently I ended up watching the last half of Mississippi Burning on one of the free movie stations. I had seen parts of the movie before but had never seen all of it. It’s easy to say that America has come so far in its acceptance of all people of color since the Civil Rights Movement. Personally, I think that the bigotry and racism depicted in the movie remains a part of this country today, albeit just below the surface. Sure, there are places where people are progressive and willing to embrace diversity, but that open-mindedness can be found in only small areas of the country like Vermont and San Francisco. I’m tempted to include Lawrence, Kansas in that list of places, but I know from having lived in Lawrence years ago how deep-seated the negative attitudes toward Native Americans remain and how much risk the students run when they leave the campus of Haskell.

I think the smear campaign directed toward Barack Obama by Palin and McCain, one in which they label him a terrorist and a traitor, and one in which members of the audience yell out, “Shoot Him,” will end up causing some gun-toting Republican to take that campaign too far. James Howard Kunstler said in one of his columns early in the campaign that Obama could possibly end up losing his life if he were elected President. If Palin and McCain continue to hide their own ineptitude and continue to evade the more important issues facing this country (like the ten trillion dollar national debt) by finding fault with their opponent, it’s possible that the racism and bigotry lurking in this county will resurface in the kind of violence that I lived through in the 1960’s when political figures and cultural leaders were gunned down. If such an event were to occur, I don’t think that McCain and Palin would ever accept the responsibility but would instead delight in ridding the country of someone not like them.