Threats against a new president usually increase after an election, "but from Maine to Idaho, law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before."
Here are a few examples as reported by AOL News.
* In Vay, Idaho, a sign with Obama's name was posted on a tree with an offer of a "free public hanging."
* Racist grafitti "targeting Obama" was "found in a tunnel near the North Carolina State University campus."
* A Maine convenience store invited "customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin.
* One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day."
Doug Rushkoff, in his book, Coercion - Why We Listen to What "They" Say, describes how sports spectacles, along with political and religious rallies, impact those involved.
"The modern sports spectacle is cousin to a much more pointedly political sort of rally ... in which the same basic set of crowd-unifying techniques are used to promote something much more potentially dangerous that simple consumerism: ideology. It is a tradition that finds its most extreme expression in the political rallies of dictators like Adolf Hitler, who depended on pageants and spectacles to keep their followers committed to a collective mission and free from taking individual responsibility for what they were doing."
And therein lies the power of a religious or political rally: "...when we are caught up in the madness of a crowd, we no longer feel individually responsible for our emotions or actions. We can allow ourselves to shout, sing, cry, or strike without the temperance imposed by personal accountability.
"The more repressed a culture, the more pent-up its passion becomes. In those rare opportunities when we are permitted to vent this energy, we are brought into unfamiliar emotional territory. We feel alive as never before, and strangely honest -- as if in our daily lives we have been living a lie. We may shed tears of joy or sadness, but underlying these tears is a sense of rage at not having been allowed to express these feelings all along, which magnifies the rage even more."
Rushkoff notes that a political rally often begins with "unifying rituals" which builds commonality among those present. The talk is frequently about the "values" held by the group as opposed to "outsiders" who don't.
The "outsiders", thus become the enemy. The rally-goers are unified against the enemy. And the rage and frustration builds.
Most importantly, Rushkoff says that often people are left to stew in their rage as they are not given any tools to change the situation. "Because of the many unresolved emotions it leaves in its wake, spectacle [a rally] is a dangerous way to generate enthusiasm for one's cause ... "
Please understand that I'm not comparing Sarah Palin to Hitler. I find it frustrating, however, that she refuses to take responsibility for the rage and racism she unleashed at her rallies.
Nor am I saying that Palin is directly responsible for the increased threats against Obama. Yet it seems very likely that the rage and unresolved emotions dredged up by the McCain/Palin campaign have led some of their more frustrated followers to give expression to their rage by issuing threats and/or engaging in actual physical violence.
Day after day on the campaign trail, Sarah Palin told her adoring fans that "He [Obama] is not one of us!" Obama doesn't share the same values! He's an "elitist." Day after day, she and McCain asked the question, "Who is Barack Obama?" Day after day they enraged the crowds with the cry, "He pals around with terrorists!"
Perhaps neither McCain nor Palin realized they were using time-tested techniques to turn a crowd into a mob -- a mob where people are given license to behave irresponsibly and irrationally, and to even engage in violence against their perceived "enemy." But they should have!
To this day, Palin refuses to apologize for her cries that Obama "pals around with terrorists." Just a few days ago, in an interview with Larry King, she said she thought she was right to use that language and feels it is still appropriate to tie Obama with Ayers, who she claims is an "unrepentant terrorist."
I'm fairly certain that neither Sarah Palin nor John McCain wished that Obama would be assaulted or killed. But they are both adults. They had to know that the cries of "He's not one of us" and "He pals around with terrorists" would unleash very dangerous emotions in the crowds gathered in front of their podiums.
They had to know they were enraging their base. And they should have known that leaving people with unresolved emotions and unresolved rage could very well create a surge of hatred and violence toward Barack Obama.
They have no excuse. For that alone, both should be forever banned from the political life of our nation!