Alert Paul Krugman and Frank Rich! There’s another outbreak of campaign-induced rage to report. Dissent has been stifled. Free speech is under assault.
Oh, never mind.
This was on page C1 of yesterday’s Washington Post, by the way.
If it were a Republican mob, you know this would be front page on the NYT and echoed on MSNBC, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, etc., etc., etc….
The sign went up Sunday evening, bold black letters against the stark white background of the marquee at the Colony South Hotel & Conference Center in Clinton: “Country First. McCain/Palin.”
By daybreak, pandemonium had broken loose all across heavily Democratic Prince George’s County. Many local supporters of Democrat Barack Obama, jolted by the message as they headed down Branch Avenue on their Monday morning commutes, grabbed cellphones and BlackBerrys to notify friends. Operators of neighborhood e-mail group lists cried foul to their memberships. The NAACP logged calls. Community leaders demanded boycotts of the hotel, a common venue for Democratic events.
“Businesspeople have to be mindful of the sentiments and sensibilities of their market trading area, and Prince George’s County is overwhelmingly for Obama,” said community activist Arthur Turner of Kettering, who was among those advocating a boycott. “People I have talked to look at the sign as a slap in the face. They feel it was blatant disrespect. . . . I have heard people say they will no longer patronize Colony South because of that disrespect.”
The outcry over the hotel marquee tapped into the passion — and sometimes anger — that has characterized this fall’s presidential campaign. Supporters of Republican candidate John McCain have vented their rage at rallies this week, applauding thunderously as McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”
Prince George’s, though, is clearly Obama Country. As the nation’s wealthiest mostly black community, where about 77 percent of registered voters are Democrats, residents have Obama placards in their yards, bumper stickers on their cars and the candidate’s visage on their T-shirts.
The marquee supporting the GOP ticket in “an area that is strongly African American was like putting a stink bomb in the middle of the living room,” said University of Maryland political Professor Ron Walters. “What it does show is the emotions that are around this campaign and this election.”
Colony South General Manager Alan Vahabzadeh said that the hotel, one of several Washington area businesses that has dared to venture into the political thicket, got the message after about 100 phone calls and three dozen e-mails. The sign came down Wednesday afternoon.
“I didn’t even realize it was going to be like this,” he said in an interview. The last thing “we want to do is lose business,” he added.
Welcome to our world.