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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Latest threat to America: Americans

    Listen up, you lazy, latte-sipping, city-dwelling liberals: You’ve just been kicked out of the country.

    Over the past few weeks, the McCain campaign, in an apparent last-ditch effort to prevail over Sen. Barack Obama, has turned to an overwhelmingly negative approach, attempting to plant fear where they have failed to sow doubt. In their speeches, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin have painted Obama as a shadowy figure who, in the words of Palin, “”pals around with terrorists.”” But beyond the fear-mongering of the candidates themselves, it is the reaction of the crowd that reveals McCain-Palin’s new tone: Cries of “”terrorist,”” “”kill him,”” “”traitor”” and “”off with his head”” have been offered up by the audience when Obama’s name is mentioned at rallies. When Obama confronted him about this during the final presidential debate, McCain said only that he is “”proud of the people who come to (his) rallies.”” Meanwhile, a flurry of “”robocalls”” have been made in swing states on behalf of the McCain campaign claiming Obama is an Arab and a Muslim, and therefore not to be trusted.

    Having already alienated a great many conservatives and Republicans with his melodramatic behavior in response to the economic crisis, open contempt toward Obama in the debates, and alarmingly impulsive vice-presidential pick, McCain has now whittled his constituency down to a mob of its most radical and openly hostile members. Since his campaign took up its banner of malevolence it has lost the support of Christopher Buckley, son of archconservative and National Review founder William F. Buckley; retired Gen. Colin Powell, who roundly condemned the tone of the campaign on Sunday’s episode of “”Meet the Press””; and the Chicago Tribune, which has never, since its establishment in 1847, endorsed a Democrat for president – among many others. What remains now is a motley crew of fundamentalists, partisans and Fox News pundits.

    It is to this audience last Friday that Palin said, “”We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the ‘real America’, being here with all of you hardworking, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.”” While warming up a crowd the following day, Rep. Robin Hays, R-N.C., proclaimed that “”liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.”” That same day, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer distinguished what she termed “”real Virginia”” from Northern Virginia.

    And just like that, in case it hadn’t been clear enough already, the McCain campaign did what no presidential campaign, or certainly no successful one, ever has: They told everyone who wasn’t already a supporter that they could all go to hell.

    Implying that those who don’t already support your campaign are somehow “”un-American”” or “”anti-American,”” as these quotes do, is no way to win an election – even the McCain campaign must know that. They may manage to frighten or intimidate current supporters into staying supporters, but with Tuesday’s polls showing Obama as much as 14 points ahead, that’s not going to get them very far.

    So what exactly is this campaign trying to accomplish anyway? Such antagonistic tactics indicate that winning in November may not be the end goal anymore. Latching on to the McCain campaign’s ideas of “”pro-America”” and, implicitly, “”anti-America,”” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said on MSNBC on Sunday: “”What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating exposé. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or are they anti-America?””

    Many have been quick to liken Bachmann’s sentiments to the McCarthyism of the 1950s, but this comparison is too simple. During the Cold War, the conflict was between Americans and Soviets; American communists, or suspected communists, were agents of that foreign boogeyman. Even Bush’s “”War on Terror”” has directed “”us”” – Americans – to fear “”them”” – Muslims. McCain and his supporters have tried and failed to link Barack Obama with the Muslim “”them”” through the rumors that he is an Arab Muslim and by relentlessly mentioning William Ayers so they can use “”Obama”” and “”terrorist”” in the same sentence; now they have begun to speak in terms of pro-America Americans and anti-America

    Americans, creating a domestic enemy which, by their definitions, comprises half the country.

    For McCain to win now would practically require divine intervention, and if a college student in Tucson is savvy enough to realize that, surely the McCain campaign is too. It seems that, rather than trying to win in November, the McCain campaign and this small cohort of Republicans are trying to spark an ugly new us-versus-them conflict of Americans against Americans around which the party, or at least the more radical elements of it, can rebuild itself during an Obama presidency. Is there anything more un-American?


    – Alyson Hill is a senior majoring in classics, German and history. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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