Megan really says it better than I can:

This is also not simple name calling: calling someone a traitor, or accusing him of treason, calling for his death of "off with his head" is a call for someone’s death, not an effort to mock or simply belittle him. This is hate speech, this is, in some cases, a series of threats against people’s lives and they should be stopped, immediately and directly by the candidates ,who should say without equivocation that such speech and such threats are not welcome. But they won’t, because this is the new McCain strategy: portray Obama as the outsider, the threat to America, the guy cavorting with terrorists — who, in the minds’ eyes of many of these people are not white college professors, let’s add —, the one who doesn’t understand the "real" America. This is code for "white" America.

I have mixed feelings here. On the one hand, as Megan quotes ex-McCain staffer Frank Schaeffer as pointing out, this is what a lynch mob looks like, and that’s an enormity never to be belittled. But on the other: this is the veneer stripped away. No upholstery on the carseat anymore. No chrome on the wheels. No vaseline. We have before us a deliberate strategy of stoking the ire of white resentment. Even McCain appears to be blinking in the face of what he’s unleashed.

And there’s almost satisfying. Because, to quote a prominent racist undone by his own racism, we’re going to kick their soft teeth down their whining throats. Newsweek‘s poll showed a race knotted at 46 percent last month. Now it shows a double-digit Obama lead. Gallup shows the same thing. Nate Silver concludes his overview of the state of the race by saying "any world in which McCain has a chance to win on Election Day is a world that looks very different from this one."

In the world we live in, isn’t it better to have a reckoning with racism, with the euphemism stripped away? Where the 27-percenters — actually down to 25 if Newsweek is to be believed — expose themselves as the frothing death-rattlers they are, braying for a dying past? I wonder if it’s dilettantish of me, little white boy, to find something potentially redemptive in the face of the Hate Talk Express. But for the first time, without a single match being ignited, doesn’t it feel as if we can burn the remnant of Nixonland to the ground?

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman