I Approve This Message

I’m releasing Thursday’s cartoon early because of its newsworthiness and because my syndicate’s online division has decided not to release it on its official website.

I know that some readers, particularly supporters of John McCain, will be offended by my referencing of a classic 1931 Life magazine photo of an Indiana lynching which shocked the nation. However, I believe it is fair to call McCain, Palin and their campaign for their dangerous tolerance of intolerance among some of their supporters.

At a number of their campaign rallies, attendees have shouted comments like “kill him!” and “terrorist!” and “treason!” about Barack Obama. Now, as my readers know, I have been sharply critical of Obama and will continue to criticize him and his policies as I see fit in the future. Furthermore, I am well aware that crazy people show up anywhere and everywhere, and that the McCain-Palin campaign is not responsible for the random hateful comments of some of their supporters.

It is shocking, however, that neither candidate is willing to tell racists that their support—and attendance at rallies—is not wanted. When McCain, and especially Palin and their surrogates, hear these comments, they are silent. This amounts to tacit consent. When they appear on television to answer questions about hate speech at their rallies, both of them deflect. They do not directly confront the issue by saying, as they should have said at their rallies: “Bigots and racists are not welcome in our campaign or the Republican Party. We do not want their votes or their support.”

Instead, at the third presidential debate, McCain responded to Obama:

Let me just say categorically I’m proud of the people that come to our rallies. Whenever you get a large rally of 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 people, you’re going to have some fringe people. You know that. I’ve and we’ve always said that that’s not appropriate.

But to somehow say that group of young women who said “Military wives for McCain” are somehow saying anything derogatory about you, but anything—and those veterans that wear those hats that say “World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq,” I’m not going to stand for people saying that the people that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women that are in this nation and they’re great citizens.

And I’m not going to stand for somebody saying that because someone yelled something at a rally—there’s a lot of things that have been yelled at your rallies, Senator Obama, that I’m not happy about either.

In fact, some T-shirts that are very unacceptable.

In other words, says McCain, calling racists to account is tantamount to insulting war veterans. And he dares to compare his supporters’ calls—calls he didn’t speak out against at the time–for Obama’s assassination to T-shirts (he didn’t say what he didn’t like about the shirts).

I was only three months old on November 22, 1963, but I am reminded of historical accounts of the hateful atmosphere that had poisoned Dallas before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. McCain and Palin are playing with fire. I am calling them out for their drive to win at any cost—including that of our national soul.

Before releasing this cartoon, I searched archives of editorial cartoons to see if anyone else had done anything else similar. Apparently, no one else has. I don’t know why—the idea seemed obvious to me. And it needs to be said.

Now let’s see how many newspapers have the guts to print this.

32 Comments. Leave new

  • This will be bigger than Tillman, Ted.

    McCain will be responsible if something happens to Obama. I saw a PBS documentary about the media coverage in Dallas during the time of the JFK assassination.

    There were crowds of people booing Kennedy and calling him a communist. One of these rednecks even hit one of the Kennedy administration's officials.

  • Nice!!

  • I don't think you meant to talk about "the Obama-Palin campaign" in para 3!

  • Indeed, I didn't. Fixed it; thanks!

  • Ted —

    Just a note — no one but the journalist who broke the story has been able to remember "kill him" being shouted out.

    Having said that, the tone of this campaign is way way too shrill on both sides — it's much worse than in 2000. For our sake, I hope there is a clear-cut winner in both the popular vote and the electoral vote, whichever moron wins.

    Also, if Obama wins, I totally called it back in 2006 (you said he was too young and too black). w00t. Of course, I don't think I win anything. I don't think any of us will win anything with the current Changist Mavericks running.

  • Bachman-Palin Overdrive!! RAWK!!!!

  • Ted, this is going to get you some attention. I was floored by McCain's faux-angry response during the debate, because he demonstrated outright that he wasn't going to address the issue. It was a 'wink-wink' moment. Further, Sarah Palin's defense is that she just 'didn't hear the comments.' So which is it, is she lying about 'reading all' the newspapers and magazines, or is she just stupid?

    Further, when a woman claimed directly to McCain's face that Obama was an Arab, he responded 'no, he's a decent, family man, an American.' So which is it, Ted, is Obama an Arab or are Arabs not capable of being 'decent family men' and Americans?

    To his credit, McCain doesn't seem willing to win this election based on that stuff -especially when he realized that it was going to be his legacy. The cat is already out of the bag now, and McCain shamelessly goes about "rebooting" his campaign as though they had nothing to do with it. It's all the vicious media.

    The worst issue with McCain's campaign is that it's chaotic and he doesn't have control over it. This is not an organization we want to hire to run the country. McCain will not be in charge, and Sarah Palin will use her position the way DICK Cheney did. That's the real message in this.

    As for the racism. This country needs to toe the line and decide what's acceptable and what's not. In the midst of a worsening financial crisis, I have no doubt that the right wing will try to reclaim power by pinning the economic mess on President Obama. That will create a backlash in this country which will further wreck out future.

    Interestingly enough, Organized Racism in America is laying low.

    I hope that you post any of the outrageous responses you get to this cartoon. I agree with Gambers, this is probably going to be a bigger stink than Tillman. However, unlike Tillman, I think the media has a vested interest in keeping this issue in the spotlight. It's salient and it gets peoples' blood boiling, and that's what the media wants. They're like that kid in elementary school who yells "RACE WAR" every time two people of different phenotypes get into an altercation.

    Faux News is just itching to come right out and say "Dammit, people, can't you see he's BLACK??"

  • Just a note — no one but the journalist who broke the story has been able to remember "kill him" being shouted out.

    Not sure I understand this comment. "Kill him" was captured on video. It really happened.

    The funniest clip I saw was when some fascist whack-job was shouting and McCain paused for a moment when he heard it–you could see his horror at what his campaign had unleashed, and he was thinking about how he should react. He finally decided to just proceed, without addressing the sentiment, pretending he didn't hear the shout.

  • As television and the Internet provided the public with increasing examples of people caught in the act of crimes, alander, fomenting hate and violence and other bad behaviors, we got to see the subculture of adults who will never, never, never admit to what they were recorded saying and doing. Ted Rall used his jounalistic and artistic talents to communicate what many law-abiding, repsonsible citizens have already thought: Sarah Palin is a tape-recorded drone who never looks far beyond her scripted nonsense, much less her ad-lib nonsense. John McCain knows better, but he chose to become a sick hack for his already listing-badly ship of the GOP. We shouldn't say, "America, right or wrong." Our duty as citizens and voters is "America is wrong and we're going to fix it. But not by repeating the same mistake we made in 2000 and 2004."

  • Ha Ha… I don't get it.

    You denounced Obama for distancing himself from the wackos, racists, and vigilantes who were allied with him. Now you're denouncing McCain for not distancing himself the wackos, racists, and vigilantes who are allied with him.

  • There's a difference, Anon 12:41 PM. The "wackos" (I don't agree with the characterization) that Obama had to distance himself from had a message that was accurate and not at all racist. There was nothing racist in Rev. Wright's statements, he specifically targeted behaviors and not the phenotype of those who committed them. There is a substantive difference between who Obama felt he needed to distance himself (and the honesty with which he did so, I don't think Obama is extreme in any way), and the failure of McCain to adequately address the bigotry within his own party.

    This is a much deeper issue with the GOP than a few fringes. Racism has been at the heart of their political message since Nixon, and now they can't hide it behind innuendo. The GOP is nekkid and it ain't purdy.

    I also wanted to comment on Palmer's statement about not winning anything. If Obama wins, I will feel that I have personally won something, if only a little self-validation. I think I deserve a little self-validation.

    I have yet to get a republican riled up enough to bet me money on this election, so I'm not going to win there. I'm in Michigan, all the Republicans here are poor.

  • This is what Obama is up against:

  • I live in one of the most liberal cities in America. A friend stopped by this morning. She takes care of a blind, bed-ridden 97 year old. She had just helped this person go through the election material so they could vote.

    This citizen wrote in Hillary Clinton for president because they did not want the country run by uppity black people.

    The McCain campaign knows what it is doing. I've heard the same "reason" in numerous interviews. If the campaign was not empowering bigots and those prone to violence, I suspect they would not be so candid in public.

    Lack of concern for consequences and belief that only intentions matter is the antithesis of what to look for in a politician. We've heard about the hate speech. There are now verifiable reports of harassment of early voters and tire slashings (50 vehicles) at an Obama rally. A member of the press was kicked hard enough to send them sprawling to the ground–from behind, of course.

    The McCain campaign knows what it is doing.

  • Thanks Aggie Dude. That needed to be said.

    And: If you actually read Rev. Wright's speeches (instead of just hearing the media's sensationalist soundbites), you'll hear a nuanced and largely accurate critique of the country. I agree with about 90% of what I've heard from Wright.

    Ted is not being inconsistent. If you've been reading him, you'll know that he feels that Wright has a valid point of view, unlike the ignorant hatemongers who believe Obama is a "Muslim," "terrorist" or "traitor."

  • The mcpain campaign tried to spin this back on Obama citing a rally where anti-McCain things were shouted by some nut-job and saying see it happens everywhere.

    BUT, the difference is Obama shamed the heckler and said heckler was then escorted out by security. AND it's that ending that distinguishes the campaigns on this.

  • Amazing comic Ted. Very blunt, very to the point, very necessary. I think I'm reminded of how people accused HRC of "burning down the house" in the Democratic primaries. I was one of those people. And I think there was truth there at a time. But the act of "burning down the house" for a political structure is one thing. When it's burning down the racial and social fabric of the country, it is another.
    I somehow imagine John McCain will have a long time to reflect on his decisions when he reaches the coming end of his life. I know somewhere in there is a man with honor and dignity. He will not like the man in the mirror.

  • I wonder if the "honorable" senator from Arizona would resign after losing the election, since he's spent the last several months demonizing the person he would have to work with to put "the country first".


  • if you change every utterance of "Honor" to "Glory," and change every utterance of "Country" to "John McCain," then what McCain starts to say makes sense:

    John McCain seeks glory in Iraq, and John McCain puts John McCain first.

  • Alexander D. Mitchell IV
    October 21, 2008 6:28 PM

    Okay, I'll call you, scum-sucker Rall.

    In exchange for McCain publicly repudiating the scum that have called for violence against the Obama campaign,. I fully expect Obama to publicly call for people to vote for him based solely on the content of his character, and not one bit whatsoever on the basis of his perceived race or skin color.

    In my dreams, that is.

  • Grouchy, excellent points about Rev. Wright. I hope that if Obama wins, he somehow pulls him back out from under the bus. But that may be asking too much.

  • Ted,

    BECAUSE McCain never stopped the people at his rally from behaving like ignorants, a better speech bubble for comic McCain would be:

    "I'm John McCain and I never disapproved/disavowed this message".

    It would be accurate and get your point across.



  • ahhh, well played. but how would Dolemite have handled the situation?

    Whitey's gotta pay!

  • Ted i'm liking your new web page better and better all the time! When do you open up again for E-scriptions on the yearly basis?

  • I'll be looking for the benevolence that is Jesus' love in the phrases "Race Traitor" and "Nigger Lover" in the coming weeks. Dorme bene…

  • The T-shirts McCain was referring to.

    Honestly, this cartoon crosses the line as far as I'm concerned. Still, if you're willing to go there with McCain, then you should draw a companion cartoon featuring a woman being raped and your caricature of Barack Obama saying he approves of the message. Sadly, that is what this campaign season has come down to.

  • This comic is right fuckin' on. While American politics might be a bit mean on both sides of the political dial, conservatives more often employ violent rhetoric than liberals.

    Most of us here are willing to say that Dubya is a shitty president, but not many of us want to kick his ass. Compare that to the Freepers, some of whom still hold a violent vendetta against Bill Clinton, for gods' sakes. How can you hate a guy who didn't do anything for 8 years?!?

    Obama is a perfect storm for these violent conservatives: he's lib'rul, he's not white, and he's Muslim (in their minds). I don't completely respect the politics of Obama, but I will respect him any day of his presidency that he goes to Appalachia / the Deep South without a bullet-proof window between him and the Americans that he should rightfully fear.

  • Seth, I was unaware that at any Obama rallies/events, Obama had mentioned any woman, and then had an audience member yell out "She should be raped", and then proceeded to not verbally repudiate this audience members' comment.

    …perhaps I am unaware of this happening because it has not happened? Or maybe you are attending Obama rallies/events that are happening only in your brain? And thus your comparison to the "Sarah Palin is a cunt" t-shirt has …nothing to do, at all, with what Ted's comic is commenting on?

    Alexander, are you seriously trying to insinuate that Barack Obama uses his non-white skin colour to his political advantage? Are you so scared of affirmative action that you think non-whites actually have an easier time in the USA?

  • (greetings from berlin)

    It is so much funner to watch a disaster from a distance.

    During the 2012 campaign, when Obama's name is linked to Afghanistan and the depression, will the republican's even need to worry about screening their audience?

    My guess is no.

  • As a foreigner who's watching this whole election thing from the outside, I've got to admit that I'm a little confused about something – the constant affirmation that John McCain is a man of honor, and all of this negative campaigning is somehow beneath him.

    I don't see it. Apart from the fact that just allowing all of these scummy attacks to continue on his behalf calls any suggestion of better character into question, it's tough to see where this reputation came from in the first place.

    When I look into his background, I see a guy who never distinguished himself in his military career, who's serially cheated on both of his wives, who was corrupt until he got caught, then championed the cause of campaign finance reform to save his career (and because his new wife was rich enough that he could afford it).

    In fact, the only thing truly admirable I can find anywhere in his record is the whole 'refusing the chance to come home' decision – a terrifyingly tough decision to have made, no doubt.

    But that decision seems to be exception in McCain's record, rather than the rule, which leads me to the question: We know that a single honorable act is enough to base a political campaign on, but is it really enough that we can use it to make pronouncements about the man's character?

  • If your cartoon has a flaw it's that the reasoning that leads to it is not explicit.

    If people are acting like the lynch mobs in those unsettling historical photos, or the deputies with snarling dogs intimidating peaceful marchers led by Dr. King, then we as journalists have to catch them in the act and turn on the Klieg lights.

    Get some volunteers at the rallies with phone cams and microphones, then capture what they report. Otherwise there is the risk of being dismissed as a partisan, and the underlying facts will not reach people who want to know what is happening where.

    One man's opinion, inspired by a strong piece of work.

  • "It is shocking, however, that neither candidate is willing to tell racists that their support—and attendance at rallies—is not wanted. When McCain, and especially Palin and their surrogates, hear these comments, they are silent. This amounts to tacit consent."

    Here is proof that you are full of shit Ted Rall when you say that McCain and his surrogates are silent:


    Sure looks like the McCain campaign telling them that their support is not wanted to me.

    More proof:


    Ted, you are full of half baked bullshit just like you were with Tillman.

  • McCain's supporters will beat themselves and carve a backwards "B" into their faces to get him elected. And lie about who did it. (A black man). What is the genetic problem with Republicans?

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