I just read a very interesting analogy comparing John McCain’s crowds to Rev. Jeremiah Wright in an article by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini is the Afghan American author of two best selling novels, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Night. Hosseini first points out the blatant anti-Muslim hate speech at McCain Palin rallies where speakers use Obama’s middle name, Hussein, with “unveiled scorn”. Hosseini writes,
Never mind that this evokes — and brazenly tries to resurrect — the unsavory, cruel days of our past that we thought we had left behind. Never mind that such jeers are deeply offensive to millions of peaceful, law-abiding Muslim Americans who must bear the unveiled charge, made by some supporters of Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, that Obama’s middle name makes him someone to distrust — and, judging by some of the crowd reactions at these rallies, someone to persecute or even kill. As a secular Muslim, I too was offended. Obama’s middle name differs from my last name by only two vowels. Does the McCain-Palin campaign view me as a pariah too? Do McCain and Palin think there’s something wrong with my name?
The fact of the matter is that McCain Palin rallies have increasingly become hate fests, what Jonathan Capehart calls “McCain’s Chilling Dance wit the Dark Side“. Yesterday, McCain toned it down a little by asking his supporter to be just as ferocious but more respectful. But Hosseini is unconvinced. He argues that McCain’s failure to definitively and convincingly condemn the hate speech make McCain and his crowd no different from the Jeremiah Wright that Republicans deplore.
What I find most unconscionable is the refusal of the McCain-Palin tandem to publicly condemn the cries of “traitor,” “liar,” “terrorist” and (worst of all) “kill him!” that could be heard at recent rallies. McCain is perfectly capable of telling hecklers off. But not once did he or his running mate bother to admonish the people yelling these obscene — and potentially dangerous — words. They may not have been able to hear the slurs at the rallies, but surely they have had ample time since to get on camera and warn that this sort of ugliness has no place in an election season. But they have not. Simply calling Obama “a decent person” is not enough.
Is inaction tantamount to consent? The McCain campaign certainly thinks so when it comes to Obama and incendiary remarks from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. By their own inaction, then, are McCain and Palin condoning these slurs? Or worse, are they willfully inciting the angry and venomous response that we have been witnessing at their rallies? If not, then what reaction are they hoping to evoke by their relentless public suggestions that Obama is basically an anti-American liar who won’t put “country first” and has an affection for terrorists? Do they not understand the kind of fire they are playing with?
On a semi-related note (Afghanistan), John McCain’s authority on everything, General David Petraeus, has recently remarked that the U.S. may want to engage the Taliban in Afghanistan. How would McCain reconcile negotiating with the Taliban? As the Christian Science Monitor asks, wouldn’t that be pallling around with terrorists?