Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Event: "Here's how Gov. Sarah Palin's Clearwater visit unfolded"

"Palin goes on the attack in Clearwater"
"Palin Wows 'Em In Clearwater"
"Palin rally brings 20000 to Clearwater"

I'm starting to feel fearful.

"Palin goes on attack in visit to Clearwater"
"Clearwater crowd welcomes Sarah Palin to Florida"
"Palin folksy, feisty in Clearwater"

While I'm politically on the same page as most of my friends, I often think that they're alarmist. We're up against the banality of evil, which operates most effectively when it can hide under a superficial veneer of esteem and respectability. I've made it a point to disagree with those who've compared the Bush administration to the fascists of the 1930s; we shouldn't have, I argue, to attain the atrocity of those regimes for something to be unacceptably bad. We needn't prove that Republicans are all degenerate monsters; we need to demonstrate policy flaws. A policy flaw can be repudiated without name-calling. That ought to be a liberal strength.

But there is a time to start feeling fear.

"Palin Supporters File Into Clearwater's Coachman Park"
"Palin In The Park"
"Palin in Florida at critical time for McCain"

The above are top-of-the-list headlines for a Google News search on the word "clearwater" today. You may think that I post these to underline a fear that the McCain ticket will turn the tide and win in November. But that is not my fear. In fact, this is looking less and less like a close election, and each day I am more confident in the success of the Obama-Biden ticket.

My fear is what these articles and headlines do not report.

Just in case you don't follow that link:

Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew.

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Presumably in reference to Ayers, though possibly to Obama.

One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

And while I can't pull up an uncensored quote on this, I think we can probably guess what was shouted.

Here's the thing. Why does the news cover this as if it were an ordinary political rally, with crowds and cheering? With a little digging, the event sounds like the precursor to a lynch mob. Shouldn't we be seeing at least some prominent headlines like:

"Palin supporters turn on media"
"Palin rally attendees threaten violence"
"Cameraman harrassed at Palin speech"

Why is this acceptable?

Why is this buried?

Why isn't this news?

And this is where I take one, two, no, one-and-a-half steps back, in consideration of some of my more alarmist friends.

They have earned that ground.

I can't think of a more reliable predictor to bigotry and catatrophe than this. Oversight is telling; it tells us what is assumed. What is unusual is worth reporting. What is accepted is left unsaid. What does it say, that the reportage of harrassment, of vigilante threats, of racism is taken off the table?

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