Decent people are baffled by atrocities. They want to believe that regular folks don’t engage in horrible acts of mass violence. That attitude was pronounced in the years following the Holocaust: we in the West have a superiority complex, and we just couldn’t imagine that ordinary Europeans took enthusiastic part in Hitler’s Final Solution. His Brownshirts and the SS had to be filled with ranks of crazed, godless, evil fuckers, not average European citizens. Civilized people wouldn’t do such things.
It’s terrifying to realize that civilization is a thin veneer, that decency and humanity can so easily be stripped away by politicians playing on ordinary people’s fears and insecurities. All it takes is a set of leaders giving people permission to unleash their inner demons on easy scapegoats. They blame an indentifiable minority for the country’s ills: Jews, blacks, liberals. They whip up the hate. They work the crowd into a frenzy. And then, suddenly, ordinary people become a howling mob. Ordinary, civilized folks find themselves willing to do the unthinkable, because they’ve been given permission. It’s normal. It’s okay. It’s patriotic:
It’s no wonder that the slightest incitement from Sarah Palin or John McCain will turn one of their rallies into a lynch mob. Just talk to the folks who attend.
My camera was rolling for literally seconds before people happily said to me, on camera, that Barack Obama is a terrorist. If I hadn’t spent most of my time at the event inside, waiting for the candidates to show up, I could have gotten dozens of these people on tape.
I’ve been doing blog video for a while, and presidential rallies a lot longer. And this is the most strange, ignorant, uninformed, angry, up-to-no-good, and gullible group of people I’ve ever seen at a political rally.
These people have been told for years that their lives are threatened by scary brown Islamofascists. They’ve been told that their problems are caused by the minorities taking over America. Then, when a man with a Kenyan father and a white mother runs for office, they’re told he’s a closet Muslim with a militant black pastor who befriends terrorists – and the easy conclusion is jumped to. They’re terrified and primed to strike out. All they need is permission.
It seems McCain and Palin are more than willing to give them that permission for the sake of winning an election.
Of all the evil McCain’s responsible for, this is the worst.