B-Serious already did a most excellent post on the inflammatory, dangerous and racial games that was pushed by the McCain campaign. This tags on to B-Serious’s point that McCain is counting on last minute racial animosity to cling to PA.

My initial thoughts when the story emerged, took me back years and miles away to Charles Stuart and Susan Smith.

Boston was never quite the same after Charles Stuart, a white man, murdered his pregnant wife after a maternity class then conspired with his brother to cover it up and blame a generic criminal black man. The “hoax” was wrong of course, but the effect on the city was the most devastating aspect.

When we say that McCain (and Palin) are trafficking in dangerous fears, hatreds and potential violence, I recall how the Charles Stuart case ripped apart an already racially tense Boston, the effects of which I felt even though I didn’t arrive in that town until 1995.

Here’s an excellent magazine piece written a few months after the incident. (emphasis mine)

The classic suburban nightmare: White yuppie couple Chuck and Carol Stuart go home to suburban Massachusetts from a birthing class at an inner city hospital. Black everyman, 5’5″, 150-165 lbs., with a raspy voice and a ubiquitous black jogging suit with red stripes, abducts the couple, robs them, and forces them to drive back to his “home turf” of Mission Hill. There, with no witnesses, he shoots the pregnant wife in the head and her husband in the stomach, a surprisingly flexible move from the back seat. He then runs off to the sanctity of his crime-ridden, drug-infested neighborhood. The husband’s first instinct, of course, is to call 911 on his car phone and give them all the details, ignoring his dying wife next to him. Police and ambulances, after tracking the lost gentleman by the frequency of his car phone, make a triumphant rescue that the television cameras which had rushed to the scene captured for the thankful nation.

The country was stunned and outraged by this senseless, random murder of both mother and baby. The familiar call for the reinstatement of the death penalty was heard, and the Boston police, aware that the eyes of the nation were upon them, rose to the occasion by initiating what is affectionately called the “stop-and-search” method: the idea being that if you stop every black man within a ten-mile radius, you are going to find your killer much more quickly. Civil liberties thus suspended, a number of black jogging-suit-clad men soon turned up. One might think that perhaps the easiest, most definitive (and legal) method of identification would have been to show Chuck mug shots… but he was apparently too weak and then too emotionally exhausted to take part. On Nov. 15, Willie Bennett, arrested on other charges, emerged as the prime suspect—thanks in part to the fine work of the Boston police who had thrown his 63-year-old mother against the wall and trashed her apartment. On Dec. 28, a rejuvenated Chuck Stuart picked Willie Bennett as the man who most closely resembled their attacker. The case was progressing to its inevitable and just conclusion.

And then it fell apart. Matthew Stuart, Chuck’s brother, identified Chuck as the real killer. Now Chuck Stuart has killed himself, Willie Bennett was freed, and the whole web of lies is finally being exposed.

Now, a shaken and polarized Boston tries to pick up the pieces. Ray Flynn, always one to take the offensive, said in his State of the City address, “We can’t let a single incident, no matter how terrible, set us back.” The evil thing about this awful fraud was that it hurt the heart and soul of a city that has worked so hard to break down the racial barriers that have divided it for so many years

It’s worth continuing to read the entire piece. This was written in 1990.

This is the threat people. It’s not the isolated incident of a clearly disturbed young woman. It’s not even the impact it might have on people’s votes. The threat is the collateral damage of an armed instrument of the state (police) or just plain vigilantism turning us against one another exactly at a time when we need to come together. Obama might be hurt by such dangerous games, but it’s every black man in Pittsburgh and indeed, every citizen of that city, who has the most to lose. How many black male Obama canvassers were looking over their shoulders for signs of the police? How many white women carried an increased level of fear over the possibility that such a random and insane act of violence could befall them? How much trust was put on the line or lost?

Seeing the blowback of such incidents is what upset me most about McCain and Palin’s silence during audibly ugly and violent rhetoric from their crowds. So again, this raises the question of leadership. When faced with society on the edge of embracing the dark side, the McCain campaign fuels the fire, endangering not just Obama’s electoral chances, but every citizen’s chance to live in a just and peaceful world.

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