Two weeks ago Philadelphia News regular contributor Fatimah Ali penned an op ed piece "We need Obama, not 4 more years of George Bush." After running through the standard liberal whinefest agenda that McCain equals Bush but Obama will solve all she predicted
If McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness - and hopelessness!
This prediction drew world wide attention, especially on the widely read Drudge Report which featured the column. She received many responses to the column, including some she found--shock, shock and still more shock--offensive.
I stand by the column - but after all of that backlash, I realize I was dead wrong. We don't have to wait until after the election for a race war. We're in one now.
I know that putting the words "race" and "war" together is like hurling an incendiary device. But I wasn't issuing a call to arms, it was a metaphorical prediction.
I hate violence, but I do see a growing wave of intolerance sweeping the nation. And most of the responses were hostile, like one from someone who identified himself as Dennis Van Pelt: "Obama runs like a porch monkey in Alabama during a KKK concert." But, not all white Southerners feel like Dennis. Russ Nelson wrote: "I am a white male who was proud to cast my vote for Barack Obama in the Alabama state primary. He inspires me!"
Nelson sounds more like the liberal whites I grew up with in West Mount Airy, a community that pioneered integration in Philadelphia and kept me wearing rose-colored glasses. I didn't personally experience racism until I was 40, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.
The recent onslaught of hate mail I received is a cruel reminder that racism is a like a simmering pot ready to boil over. But it's diametrically opposed to what democracy should represent.
While unpleasant, in a democracy people should be able to say what they want; that some are less than nice is to be sadly expected.
And just where are the voices of hate?
Flip through right-wing talk radio, and you can hear this type of intolerance daily.
And this is why the US is now in a race and class war.
DECADES after Brown v. Board, after a long civil-rights struggle and the fact that we live in an increasingly multicultural society, our nation's sagging economic state is also causing great racial strife among those who are financially at the bottom.
In some neighborhoods in L.A., violence is rampant between blacks and Mexicans. Gang wars are frequent, and, the LAPD says, are based on race and competition for jobs. In Philadelphia, police believe several recent robberies and murders of shop owners were directly related to race.
Unfortunately events like these--and more--are happening. Does it indicate a race war? To Ms Ali it certainly does.
No, we're not anywhere near "post-racial" times. If we were, the possibility that a black man may well become our next president wouldn't matter. And two words out of 775 in my original column would not have unleashed the kind of hatred that makes me want to retreat to a bunker. *
Apparently it never occurred to Ms Ali that many voters just may reject an Obama presidency, to paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr of blessed memory, because of the content of his proposed actions not the color of his skin.
And if she would think some more, Ms Ali could also ponder the hatred unleashed against Governor Sarah Palin, a woman who dared to have five children including one with Down syndrome and be a Republican. Is that a gender war, or a public display of intolerance among liberals?