Thursday, October 16, 2008

What John Lewis said

One of the more interesting parts of the debate last night was when McCain played the victim of John Lewis' "hurtful" comments. Here's what Lewis originally said:

"As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin
campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse. During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama. As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better."

The McCain campaign called these comments "vicious character assaults" and called on Obama to repudiate Lewis' remarks.

Here's the deal. McCain has called Obama unpatriotic and guided by "blind ambition." Palin has repeatedly proclaimed that Obama "pals around with terrorists" (note the present tense verb and plural noun), and says "he doesn't see America the way you and I do" (code language for you-know-what). A lot of McCain's supporters really believe Obama is Muslim, Arab, connected with terrorists, and many use racist epithets in interviews conducted outside of McCain rallies.

John Lewis personally got the shit beat out of him by Wallace's police. Lewis' criticism was of McCain's specific behavior in this campaign, not his character. So I'm inclined to give Lewis the benefit of the doubt here.

1 comment:

Acrobat said...

Thank you for this post. I missed the debate, but continue to appreciate your clarity. You (hippie commie) Ivory Tower folk can be so black & white.

And, I wouldn't even call it a benefit of the doubt. On the quotes & actions in your post, you put this one beyond a reasonable doubt, counselor.