Throughout the presidential campaign, I have been waiting for the media to expose the McCarthyism surrounding McCain/Palin's campaigns. To take it out of the category of legitimate criticism. As a historian I keep wishing that we will learn something from the past.
McCain should know better he lived through the forties and the fifties and knows the evil of smearing someone through guilt by association, using the patriotism as a shield. They rationalize that the smears are justified because they love America. Those of us who lived through the McCarthy Era remember the self righteousness of patriotic Americans who manufactured half-truths and outright lies; we also remember the lives that were destroyed.
There is little doubt that McCain/Palin have intentionally smeared Obama. As in the case of the Iraq war, associations are made between him and terrorist. He is a Muslim! Obama is foreign.
Take the incessant harping on William Ayers who today is a respected professor working for school reform in a city that is heavily black and Latino They allege that forty years ago he was a member of the Weatherman Underground. Putting things into context, many of us at the time shared Ayer's criticisms of the war and his condemnation of racism in the United States. The truth be told, the U.S. was not a model nation at the time, and it was not a nation that I loved. .
For instance, when I arrived at then San Fernando Valley State there were about 50 students of Mexican origin, and racist remarks were frequent. Police brutality was common.
If I had any criticism of Ayers it was his tactics -- in truth he had much more faith in America than I did, and believed that he could change it. I was older than Ayers so my tactics were less militant, and I was not ready to fight for a nation ruled by white patriots. I was not a martyr.
I also had the advantage that I was of Mexican origin, had a community, and did not have to feel guilty about my race. We weren't oppressing anyone.
Another example of McCain/Palin McCarthyism is the distortion and maligning of ACORN. I have never contributed to ACORN because most of its leaders were, let's say, so white. They reminded me of church people.
I respected them, much the same as I respect the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers). They represented the best in white America. They were true believers who were critical of the United States and were out to save its soul. Its members are motivated by love.
Now, the party that stole the Florida Election in 2000, and that routinely tries to disenfranchise poor voters by confusing them, accuses ACORN of voter fraud.
ACORN has registered over a million voters. Self-righteous Republicans who love to quote Martin Luther King have sanctimoniously found about a dozen cases of registration errors.
It is almost laughable. They label about a half dozen instance as fraud. Some of the examples are almost laughable. They are jokes like registering the entire Dallas Cowboy Roster in Nevada. Others involve registering Mickey Mouse. Would an honest observer take them seriously? If you wanted to commit fraud, wouldn't you be more creative? The end is to have them vote.
I don't know about you but I have signed those ridiculous California referendum petitions against same sex marriages and for other racist proposition as "Mickey Mouse" and "Joe Bigot."
Now a good organization is smeared -- an organization that McCain himself has praised in the past. To what purpose? McCain is not stupid! He knows when he is doing in invoking the ghost of Joe McCarthy.