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.