“No Racism in the Booth”
Timothy Shriver, a writer on religion with the Washington Post, in his column today condemned the racism and increasingly violent attitudes of those attending McCain’s rallies…and Sarah Palin’s comments which have fostered those hatreds.
The ugly turn to racism in the presidential campaign presents a bold opportunity for American religious leaders–a way to promote core religious beliefs and make themselves relevant at the same time. It’s time for a unified spiritual message: no racism in the booth.
This is more of an emergency that we may realize. Just last week, ugly crowd responses were reported at some McCain-Palin events. The Washington Post reported that one person at a rally shouted, “Kill him” about Obama while an African American member of a TV crew had to be escorted from the building after being taunted with racial slurs.
But the stakes are higher still. If the so-called “Bradley effect” were to take place in this election and the Obama-Biden ticket were to lose because of racism, the country would be devastated. The uproar following the 2000 Supreme Court decision that awarded the election to George W. Bush would look mild by comparison. Our values? Mocked. Our leadership on issues of reconciliation and tolerance? A joke. Our capacity to come together as a nation? Deferred, like other dreams for another generation.
The legacy of this campaign would be national shame.
A highly placed adviser to the Obama campaign caught me off guard this week when he told me how far he thought it had gone: “If anything happens to Barack, the other campaign will have to bear some responsibility.”
How did we get to the end of this election and find ourselves speaking about the unspeakable? On the whole, this has been a campaign of unprecedented enthusiasm and hope with new energy from all sides of the political spectrum. After an amazing year of debate and discussion, how have we found ourselves in the gutter of racism?
Shame on people of faith if we don’t confront it with a united voice.