Supporters of Sarah Palin attending a rally in St. Clairsville, OH on Sunday were not shy about displaying their racist attitudes and their ignorance about Barack Obama -- along with their very real fears and insecurities -- to al-Jazeera reporter Casey Kauffman.
One white-haired old lady said frankly to Kauffman, "I'm afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over." She then added more shrilly, "He's not a Christian! This is a Christian nation! What is our country going to end up like?"
Another woman stated, "Obama and his wife, I'm concerned that they could be anti-white, that he might hide that." A third suggested, "I don't like the fact that he thinks us white people are trash -- because we're not."
A young man holding a baby told Kauffman, "He seems like a sheep -- or a wolf in sheep's clothing -- to be honest with you. And I believe, Palin, she's filled with the holy spirit."
St. Clairsville lies just a dozen miles west of Wheeling, WV, in largely-white southeastern Ohio, which was a Bush stronghold in 2000 and 2004. One Daily Kos diarist who commented on the video wrote, "I am originally from a small town 30 miles away from St Clairsville, and seeing this clip reminds me of what it was like to live there. St Clairsville is actually sort of a metropolis in this rust belt region. To many farmers, steelworkers, and coal miners who live in the surrounding countryside, it's known for being 'where the WalMart is.'"
A few days earlier, a blogger had interviewed audience members at a McCain-Palin rally in Strongsville, OH, in the northern part of the state, and reported that "this is the most strange, ignorant, uninformed, angry, up-to-no-good, and gullible group of people Iíve ever seen at a political rally."
Although ABC News described Palin as having toned down her rhetoric a notch on Sunday, the Kos diarist quoted her as telling the crowd, "We know who the bad guys are, OK? We know that in the war, itís terrorists, terrorists who hate America and her allies and would seek to destroy us, and the bad guys are those who would support and sympathize with the terrorists."
Palin's supporters clearly took those remarks as refering to Obama, with several of them saying to Kauffman, "He's related to a known terrorist" or "He's friends with a terrorist of this country" or "He must support terrorists."
However, not all St. Clairsville residents are Republicans, and another Kos diarist, who reported on a well-received Joe Biden rally in the same town two days later, made it clear that "Ohio and WV Democrats don't like Sarah Palin at all. Much of the conversation before the rally was about her. And you might be surprised to know that a lot of people that you might not think are internet savvy are hip to Palin's ties to the AIP and are horrified by it."
The al-Jazeera crew interviewed one St. Clairsville Obama supporter who, they report, has been "shocked at the names he's been called by his own neighbors."
"I've been called the n-word," this man stated. "I've been called a Muslim, I've been called a un-American." He went on to say, "The tension's getting thicker and thicker. People like that, it's starting to scare me. ... I'm afraid some of these people might try to hurt Obama."
This video is from YouTube and was uploaded October 13, 2008.