Becoming the Enemy
By Kit-Bacon Gressitt
In our zeal to win, our passion to topple the opposition, our thirst to put our favored candidate in the throne, we’re transforming the traditional campaign groupies — the mothers with kissable babies, the cheering sign bearers, the grannies who stuff envelopes, the enthralled hand-shakers — into troglodytes, littering the road to the White House with verbal rough-hewn clubs, false accusations and defaced yard signs.
During the presidential primary, one idiot asked about Hillary Clinton, “How do we beat the bitch?” which a flustered John McCain fumblingly described as “an excellent question.”
More recently, a couple hoodlums yelled "Kill him!" and called Barack Obama a “Terrorist!” which Sarah Palin ignored, but the Secret Service did not.
Another doofus reviled Obama with, “He’s an Arab!” which tweaked even McCain. Apparently she was led by some other nitwit to believe being Arab is bad and having an unfamiliar name confirms it.
And a palterer from McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign fanned the flames of a racially charged accusation by a white volunteer that she’d been attacked by a large black man who challenged her affiliation by carving a ‘B’ in her cheek. The disturbed volunteer admitted the incident was a hoax and the campaign worker danced away from the unsubstantiated details he’d previously tossed to the media.
Now, there’s a schmuck in my own neighborhood who tried to change my Obama bumper sticker into a NObama bumper sticker and in the process disfigured my car with permanent black marker.
My first reaction was horror that some jackass would interfere with my First Amendment right to free speech. Damnit! My husband, my father, my uncle, my grandfather, my great grandfather (and I could go on) fought for that right. They laid their various fannies on the line so my neighbors across the street can put McCain-Palin signs in their yard and I can sport my Obama-Biden stickers and two neighbors around the corner can have dueling ballot proposition yard signs. They did not risk themselves and their future issue so we can batter each other with hostile, threatening words and vandalize the property of those who don’t agree with us.
My second reaction was fury that some cretin slathered permanent black marker on my chili pepper-red midlife-crisis VW bug convertible. Cretin and kindergarten dropout: What happened to drawing inside the lines? Damnit, again! This is the first non-utilitarian car I’ve owned; it’s good for nothing but fun; and it makes me happy.
So my third reaction was to jump in my wounded wombobile and drive to the soothing tunes of Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder as my fiery ire cooled — until it occurred to me that any number of the hateful dolts out there would hurl the “terrorist” barb at Toure simply because he’s Muslim, except he died in 2006, a hero to his Malian village for funding its electricity, among other things, and the thought of his gentle artist’s soul being slandered by churls was riling me up all over again. But then I hit a lovely stretch on the east side of town, and I turned up the music and bopped my head to the meditative rhythms of the Ghimbala spirit world and imagined drifting to serenity on the Niger River.
That’s when my fourth reaction kicked in with a nasty jolt: I realized I was becoming the enemy, denigrating their intelligence, maligning their characters, vilifying the fearful and ignorant for being just that, when sympathy and a comforting hug should have been my instinctive response.
That’s what a good person would have done.
But right now, I just want to know which nimrod of a neighbor messed with my bumper sticker. I'll be good after the campaign.
©2008 Kit-Bacon Gressitt