Monday, October 13, 2008

The Hate Out There

The short video clip here depicts one of several eerily similar calls we received on the show last week from people who are being confronted and harassed by anti-Obama individuals. In this case, a man had just yelled "Don't vote for a black man!" at the caller, a woman named Jillian, after dangerously speeding up to her bumper on the road in Westchester, New York, having seen her "Obama '08" bumper sticker.

We received several calls about "Obama 08" bumper stickers and people lashing out at motorists who had them on their cars -- all in the same week that John McCain and Sarah Palin began spewing incendiary rhetoric on the campaign trail. And I heard in emails as well from people being accosted in the bank, at the hair salon, on the street, in the supermarket. Were the rallies and the coverage in the media emboldening people to lash out at Obama supporters? Or were Palin and McCain tapping into something that was already happening on the streets and highways and elsewhere? Probably a mix of both.

A man from small town in Missouri wrote me explaining that his boss at a hair salon heard him talking to a client about Obama and butted in, screaming that Obama is the "anti-Christ!" (A heated exchange followed, which eventually involved the police -- the owner called them -- and the man was fired from his job). An African-American woman from Los Angeles wrote to tell me how she was on line at a bank in Pasadena, CA when a woman in back of her, a white woman, completely out of the blue turned to her and said, "I was going to vote for Obama, but I heard something that makes me just unable to vote for him now." She then went into a diatribe about abortion. A Kentucky man called the show to say that his pastor approached him on the street and told him he was going to go to hell if he voted for Obama.

A man in California called the show after he had just pulled into a gas station. A car had pulled up alongside him and the driver pointed to the man's "Obama 08" bumper sticker and began verbally abusing him. These and several other stories related to us on and off the air are surely just a glimpse of the hate that seems to be rising to the surface in this campaign and which is not going to just go away when it's over.