Remember where Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 general election presidential campaign? Philadelphia, Mississippi. Odd place to start, unless you were trying to wink to Southern racists that you were one of them, just as Sarah Palin is doing, to judge by the performance reported during her appearance at a Clearwater, Fla., rally.
There, while she launched a red-baiting false accusation against Barack Obama, and blamed "the media" for the fact that her campaign is losing traction, an African-American cameraman had racial epithets shouted at him, concluding with the order to "sit down, boy."
At another moment, as Palin declaimed her falsehoods, the crowd booed and someone called out "kill him," unquestionaby meaning to encourage an old-time lynching of Obama.
Palin did not criticize such taunts, any more than Reagan took time to honor the three civil rights workers murdered there by white supremacists in 1964. The murders were recalled in the film Mississippi Burning.
Indeed, just as Palin threw the red meat of political slurs at a black political candidate, Reagan told his audience in 1980 that "I believe in states' rights ... [I] believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment ...," promising to "restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them."
We all know that "states rights" is Southern white racist code for bringing back the Confederacy and keeping out federal troops and the FBI from efforts to keep the South racially segregated and unequal.
Is there any mistaking Palin's egging on an ugly crowd representing the un-American worst and failing to curb enthusiasm for political murder for the lowest-common-denomination, hate-filled demogoguery it is?
I wish there were a way to strip Palin of U.S. citizenship. I wish there way a way to expel the South from the Union, or at a minimum, to reoccupy militarily the miscreant region again, back to the status it richly deserved in 1865 and from which it has yet to show recovery.
Palin and the South represents everything that is embarrassing and horrible in this country.
Let's hope it can be driven to a well-deserved, ignominious defeat in next month's presidential election. In the coming bad times, an administration of right-wing hatemongers could easily rip up what's left of the Bush-disregarded Constitution that represents the greatness of the United States.