I may have to take a break from following the dumb shit John McCain has to say on the campaign trail. It's too heartbreaking listening to that mean-spirited liar rattle the cages with ridiculous assertions.
Look, I'm from western Pennsylvania. John Murtha is right --it is a racist part of the state. Hell, most of Pennsylvania has a higher than expected share of racists given that Pennsylvania was one of the leading abolitionist states. I remember in the 1990's checking out a Multicultural Student's Guide to Colleges that stated that the area around State College (where Penn State University is located) was home to "many white supremacist organizations" -- and you don't have to take a book's word for it if you grew up there. While it's true that the majority of people would never admit it and in fact many of them would never take part in anything specifically racist like a Klan rally, there remains a strong undercurrent of white supremacy and everyday racist attitudes. When the Aryan Nations were kicked out of Idaho, where'd they go? Potter County, Pennsylvania.
When I was getting ready to leave my hometown and begin graduate school in Washington, DC, I remember a co-worker asking me how I was going to handle it down there when "one of those big niggers grabbed hold of me." A friend of mine was in a bar not far from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. On parting for the evening, a guy he didn't know but had been conversing with during the night flashed him a hand sign -- index fingers pointed up and hands joined at the thumbs, so the hands made the shape of a W. "What's that stand for?" my friend asked. "White Power," came the reply.
Anecdotes, I know. Just anecdotes. Could happen almost anywhere. But it saddens me to see McCain pandering to the basest populist elements when he declares western PA free of racism. I'm not sure I can take seriously a candidate who refuses to acknowledge that we still have deep racial divisions in this country -- obviously not as deep as before, since we have a Black candidate not only running for President from a major party, but also currently winning in the polls.
Actually, I should elaborate on McCain's stance and strategy. McCain may refuse to acknowledge that we have deep racial divisions in this country, but his strategy is to exploit those divisions -- to play on the fear of Obama as Other: the Arab other, the Black other, the Muslim other.
If for no other reason than this racially divisive campaign strategy, John McCain is unfit to be President.