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A Rage No One Should Be Stoking

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Saturday, October 18, 2008; Page A15

"Kill him": the battle cry of a lynch mob and words yelled out by a man at a Sarah Palin rally in Clearwater, Fla., this month, according to my Post colleague Dana Milbank.

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Some observers claim that the proposed killing was directed not toward Barack Obama but at Bill Ayers, the co-founder of the radical Weather Underground that bombed public buildings during the turbulent Vietnam era. Ayers, now a college professor who has served with Obama and other noted Chicagoans in civic enterprises -- and hosted a campaign event for Obama's initial run for the state legislature -- is being portrayed by John McCain's campaign as Barack's bosom buddy, the facts notwithstanding.

Whether the call for assassination was aimed at Obama or Ayers is immaterial. It represents a dangerous new low in American politics.

Tell a rabid audience that Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" (as Palin has done), imply that Obama is friendly with people out to destroy America (as she also has done) and what do you expect?

The ugliness is stunning.

Milbank also reported that in Clearwater, one of Palin's supporters shouted a racial epithet at a network soundman and told him, "Sit down, boy."

This month, an angry white man was arrested in Monroe, La., after allegedly threatening election officials who had not sent him a voter registration card. He badly wanted to cast his vote, he told police, so that he could "keep the nigger out of office."

Dangerous stuff. That's why Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon, spoke out.

It is no accident that the English-language operation of al-Jazeera, the Arab-language news network, tried to capture and broadcast to the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere a glimpse of America's more sinister side.

Al-Jazeera found it in St. Clairsville, Ohio, a white, working-class community that was the site of an Oct. 12 Palin rally.

Armed with a video camera and a hand-held mike, interviewer Casey Kauffman -- who by appearance could pass as a Buckeye State native -- recorded the following observations about Obama:

From an older white woman: "I'm afraid if he wins, the black [sic] will take over. He's not a Christian. This is a Christian nation! What is our country gonna end up like?"


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