Sunday, October 12, 2008

The All-American Witch Hunt

The increasing venom of crowds at McCain-Palin rallies indicates that a certain segment of the population has taken the innuendo and slanderous accusations of unscrupulous Republican campaign strategists completely literally. In other words, they believe that Obama is a Muslim terrorist. They imagine that through some strange and cruel chain of events, the evil "other" represented by 9/11 hijackers and by Osama bin Laden is now incarnate in the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. Many of these people already hold some form or other of Biblical apocalypse fantasy alive in their imaginations, so it is not hard for them to believe that God is testing, or Satan is tempting, the good people of our country in this election as some necessary step in a process that also includes the breakdown of our civilization (i.e., economy), a war with heathens in the Middle East, the End of Days (global warming?) and the Rapture. Considering this point of view, it's not terribly difficult to understand why some people consider Obama's identity as the Antichrist to be a matter of fact beyond any question whatsoever. So it's even sort of poignant when, for example, a woman tells McCain how terrified she is of Obama because he "is an Arab." She really believes Obama is an Arab and is terrified that the United States will be ruled by an Arab terrorist. It's easy for us - the "reality-based community" - to dismiss a lot of the Republican lies and smears about Obama as laughable and obviously untrue. Of course, that's what they are. But the mistake we're making is to trust that while some are laughing and others are keeping a straight face, everyone is in on the joke. That even if McCain supporters want to believe them or pretend that they're true, they must know they're lies. The chilling fact is that many people believe them wholeheartedly, sincerely. They are terrified to the core of their souls that Barack Obama, an Islamist terrorist, will be elected president. "Kill him!" "Off with his head!" they scream. This election is an all-American witch hunt. That's what we're up against.