Mike Signorile listens to the The Hate Out There
Holy smoke, the downward spiral of anti-Obama sentiment fomented by McCain/Palin is spilling out into one-on-one harassment. Mike Signorile has had callers dial in to share hair-raising stories about being lashed out at by members of the “McCain mob.”
The short video clip here depicts one of several eerily similar calls we received on the show last week from people who are being confronted and harassed by anti-Obama individuals. In this case, a man had just yelled “Don’t vote for a black man!” at the caller, a woman named Jillian, after dangerously speeding up to her bumper on the road in Westchester, New York, having seen her “Obama ’08” bumper sticker.
We received several calls about “Obama 08” bumper stickers and people lashing out at motorists who had them on their cars — all in the same week that John McCain and Sarah Palin began spewing incendiary rhetoric on the campaign trail. And I heard in emails as well from people being accosted in the bank, at the hair salon, on the street, in the supermarket. Were the rallies and the coverage in the media emboldening people to lash out at Obama supporters? Or were Palin and McCain tapping into something that was already happening on the streets and highways and elsewhere? Probably a mix of both.
A man from small town in Missouri wrote me explaining that his boss at a hair salon heard him talking to a client about Obama and butted in, screaming that Obama is the “anti-Christ!” (A heated exchange followed, which eventually involved the police — the owner called them — and the man was fired from his job). An African-American woman from Los Angeles wrote to tell me how she was on line at a bank in Pasadena, CA when a woman in back of her, a white woman, completely out of the blue turned to her and said, “I was going to vote for Obama, but I heard something that makes me just unable to vote for him now.” She then went into a diatribe about abortion. A Kentucky man called the show to say that his pastor approached him on the street and told him he was going to go to hell if he voted for Obama.
A man in California called the show after he had just pulled into a gas station. A car had pulled up alongside him and the driver pointed to the man’s “Obama 08” bumper sticker and began verbally abusing him.
The sad truth is that we have people walking among us who are filled with so much irrational hate that all they needed was license from McCain/Palin to explode. That is the shock factor for some people out there — black, white, brown and all colors in between are experiencing first hand for simply supporting the Democratic candidate running for POTUS.
The coded (and not-so-coded) strategy of the McCain campaign was like flipping a switch — the Base was awakened and took the message, along with Palin as their standard bearer, as a sign that anything goes, any frustrations, real or imagined, can be projected onto Barack Obama in order to dehumanize him — monkey dolls, Obama Waffles, racist caricatures. None of these reactions has anything to do with policies or political worldview — it’s base racism, fear of the portrayed “other” and it’s unchallenged by the Republican candidate and his running mate as significant enough of a problem to condemn their campaign’s own tactics.
Go ahead, Senator McCain, ask about Bill Ayers at this last debate; while people are being sh*tcanned because their companies can’t meet payroll, I don’t think most Americans have any more patience for irrelevancies like this. When the economy is in the toilet, there is no other subject on the table. I don’t know what all your high-priced lobbyist consultants are being paid, but you’re getting a crap ROI.