11 October 2008

US election campaign rhetoric

As I've said elsewhere, the US presidential election campaign has reached the boring stage, in which mud-slinging has replaced rational debate on policies. But some people seem to find it more worrying than boring, especially when it comes to things like this

OPINION Blog | The Dallas Morning News:
It's increasingly worrying that John McCain and Sarah Palin are embracing the acceptability of campaign tactics that play to the most racist and intolerant tendencies among their supporters. John McCain knows that Barack Obama has no links whatsoever to terrorism, and yet he's doing everything he can to create that linkage. And he's unleashing Sarah Palin to do his dirty work while McCain claims to be above this condemnable form of negative campaigning.

Hat-tip to Scyldings in the Mead-Hall who says: "I’m sorry, but intentionally or not, it sounds far too much like the tactics of a certain rabble rousing housepainter from Munich." And tactics familiar to those of us in South Africa who lived through the National Party regime of Verwoerd, Vorster et al.

I haven't been following it all that closely. Much of the rhetoric flying around now does not come from the candidates but from their "campaigns", and their supporters engaging in juvenile tactics of misspelling names in laboured political puns.

If I've seen it once, I've seen it dozens of times, people claiming that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Muslim. That's about as convincing as saying that Sarah Palin is a Muslim because she's the governor of Al Aska.

I read newsgroup headings about the RePUGs and the GOP'ukes and the DemocRATs, and I think of all the benefits that the Internet had brought mankind -- that infantile insults like these can be transmitted around the world instead of being confined to late-night seedy bars.

So I take this kind of rhetoric with a pinch of salt.

I remember that at one time the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh, was charged with terrorism and that one of the items on the charge sheet was that he had said that Brigadier "Rooi Rus" Swanepoel of the Security Police (a nototious torturer) should be shot. It was a casual throwaway remark that anyone could make, and to treat it seriously as evidence of a conspiracy to kill him seemed ridiculous.

The courts thought so too, and ffrench-Beytagh was acquitted.

And so I'm inclined to think that this kind of rhetoric by the US presidential "campaigns" is just silly season hype.

But then I remember that Robert Kennedy was murdered while campaigning. And Martin Luther King, though not a candidate, was murdered a few months before.

So perhaps it's more chilling than I thought.

1 comment:

Burr Deming said...

Before we make a choice we may regret for the next four years, the accusations against Barack Obama should be carefully considered, as they are here.


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