I’m hesitant to dip this blog directly into politics, but I’ve been so irked by something I saw yesterday that I just had to get it off my chest. On Sunday, the boys and I were in the mountains and went for a short hike in the Coopers Creek Scenic Area, enjoying the fall color, the cool air, the cornflower skies. But on our drive back to the in-laws’ house in McCaysville, we passed this sign on GA 60, just north of Suches:
Paddle faster, I hear banjo music.
Horrified, I turned around and came back to snap a picture, pulling in on the far side of the pumps at the convenience store/deer processing business (“Confederate Owned”) that the sign belonged to. I was quite self conscious taking the picture, basically hiding behind the car while I got the shot and then speeding off. Will kept asking questions, wanting to know what the big deal was, but I decided he wasn’t quite ready for this teachable moment. Thankfully I parked too far away for him to read the sign clearly.
When I showed my wife the picture last night, her immediate comment was something like “That ought to be illegal.” Actually no, our First Amendment clearly gives this backwoods galoot the right to put anything he likes on his sign. It’s a right I would fight for if called to serve. But by the same token I can put this picture on the internet and say just what I think: The person who owns this sign is an embarrassment to his community, a festering sore on the ass of Georgia, and living proof that humans are closely related to apes (and that’s being frankly unfair to apes).
I’m not surprised that the owner of a backwoods convenience store might still think this way, but to see racism expressed so baldly (in a commercial context!) was absolutely shocking in this day and age. But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, given the increasingly desperate and divisive and reckless tenor of the McCain/Palin campaign in recent weeks. When you open Pandora’s Box, you cannot be surprised or avoid responsibility when people yell “traitor” or “terrorist” or “kill him” at your rallies—or when your supporters feel legitimized in advertising their hate in front of their place of business.
I should say here that I was a HUGE supporter of John McCain in 2000 and that I enthusiastically voted for him in the Republican Primary earlier this year. Not any more. Even if I hadn’t jumped off the Straight Talk Express the moment he brought Sarah Palin on board, his campaign over the past several weeks would have convinced me. Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama on Meet the Press pretty much sums up my feelings exactly. Please, God, get this election over with and help us start to heal these divisions.