In an ugly act of racial and political intimidation, four supporters sympathetic to John McCain who are students at the the small Christian George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, confessed to hanging a life-sized Obama effigy from a tree at the entrance of the college with the words, "Act 6 Reject" scrawled on the figure. The Act 6 program is a minority scholarship program.
The goal of those that hung the life-sized cardboard figure of Barack Obama in effigy seemed pretty clearly aimed at both intimidating any supporters of Barack Obama and also making any minority students feel unwelcome and unsafe at the college. It was like posting a death threat to any Obama supporters or to any minorities that they are not welcome at the Christian college and should leave for their safety. It is closely related to terrorism in attempting to incite fear to control others.
Administrators were outraged at this disgusting display of racial and political intimidation and held an event at the school's chapel to address this outrageous hate act. And the FBI is actively investigating the act of racial prejudice and may file federal charges against the four students who are currently under suspension from the school.
So far the McCain-Palin Campaign has been silent on this hate crime act. But both McCain and Palin are on record as opposing hate crimes laws at both state and federal levels. Both have a clear of record of weakness when it comes to support for prosecuting those who use racial intimidation or death threats against minorities. It seems highly unlikely that anyone from the McCain Campaign will offer any statement condemning this hate crime.
The John McCain record is so poor on minority issues that only a mere 36 African American delegates were at the Republican National Convention this year. One of the lowest numbers in years. Many minorities recognize that John McCain is no friend to their shared values of justice, equality or law enforcement against hate crimes. John McCain's right wing economics continue to keep many minorities in economic slavery as well and have diminished their standard of living.
John McCain has continued to compare himself to Barry Goldwater over the years. However, during the 1964 campaign it was Barry Goldwater's vice presidential candidate, Arthur Miller who accepted the support of the Ku Klux Klan during the campaign, creating an embarrassing situation for Goldwater that year which was just another factor in his landslide loss that year.
With his opposition to the Martin Luther King Holiday, civil rights legislation and hate crimes laws, John McCain has one of the worst records of any GOP candidate for president in many years on combating racism in America. It is hard to imagine that such a candidate is running in the party of Abraham Lincoln who was so devoted to racial justice for all Americans. And the racist incident at George Fox university is just an ugly reminder of the shallow reason that a few supporters are drawn to John McCain.
But one major Oregon Republican seems to have stepped up to make a strong statement perhaps inspired by this hate crime. Republican Senator Gordon Smith has begun airing new ads last week that show his bipartisan support with Senator Edward Kennedy for supporting increased penalties for hate crimes. Senator Smith represents the broad number of decent Republicans who reject hate crimes, racial violence or using racist effigy figures to intimidate minorities or Obama supporters.
While some supporters of John McCain such as the racists who hung the Obama effigy may want to make this election a referendum on race, the Obama Campaign has always taken the high road in this campaign, making this election about the economy, character and issues. That's where most Americans are and will be on election day as well.
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