Swing State Report: The “Terrorist” Question in Ohio

Al Jazeera English released a video this week revealing the fears of McCain supporters at a rally in rural Ohio that Barack Obama is secretly an Islamic terrorist.  In recent days, several public figures have come forward to condemn what they believe is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Republican party to stoke zenophobic and racist fears relating to Obama.

Frank Schaeffer, a former McCain campaigner wrote an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun calling on the Republican nominee to “definitively condemn” the comments of some of his supporters.  He wrote:

If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as “not one of us,” I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

Colin Powell went further in his endorsement of Obama on MSNBC, questioning the casual conflation of Muslim and terrorist that permeates this conversation:

The really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being Muslim in America? No, that’s not America.

As the election nears, it is clear that our conversation about race and identity in America is only beginning.

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