Ashley Todd, the young Texan McCain volunteer who claimed she was mugged, sexually assaulted and had a "B" carved into her face by a "dark-skinned" black man near an ATM in Pittsburgh, has confessed that she made up her story. Just as several of us said would happen. It’s hard to know what the cops and the district attorney will do. Making a false report to the police is usually a felony. Whatever happens in the legal system, let’s hope Todd gets some psychological counseling, court ordered if necessary. She's young. She can get better.
There is no hope, however, for jackals like Drudge, numerous other rightwing bloggers, and executive vice president for Foxaganda, Joe Moody.
Because what we have here is a story that not so many years ago got black men lynched. Dragged from their houses to quiet locations by masked or unmasked men, stripped, castrated, hanged, burned and gruesomely photographed. Although many people – even the usually execrable Michele Malkin - were skeptical of Todd’s report the minute they heard it and saw the alleged "carving" of "B" on her face, the Mandingo button had been pushed. The completely unsubtle message? A big black man, black as coal, wearing black clothes and black shoes, a blackety-black man, had done what black men have done to white women in America since 1619 given half a chance.
Tying this all to the assailant’s fury over a McCain sticker transformed Todd into a heroine for the right against the forces of darkness led by that uppity darkie, Senator Obama, the "B" cut into her face standing, obviously, for "Barack."
And despite what many people saw as grotesque inconsistencies in Todd’s story – like the fact that none of this attack was caught by the ATM’s video camera – the race-baiters ran with the story, and comment threads at various blogs generated the kind of vile remarks you’d expect from aryannation.com. See, America, elect a black man for president and your white daughters will be legitimate targets for black men everywhere. This antebellum viewpoint, covert and coded though it be in the 21st Century, remains as putrescent as it was 40 and 140 years ago.
Foxaganda’s Executive Vice President Joe Moody wrote a commentary that was itself a prime study in how to race-bait while denying it:
It had to happen.
Less than two weeks before we vote for a new president, a white woman says a black man attacked her, then scarred her face, and says there was a political motive for it.
Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old white volunteer for John McCain’s presidential campaign, says she was mugged at an ATM machine in Pittsburgh (my hometown) by a big black man. She further says he threw her down, then disfigured her by carving the letter "B" into her face with a sharp implement when he saw that she supported McCain, not Barack Obama.
Part of the appeal of, and the unspoken tension behind, Senator Obama’s campaign is his transformational status as the first African-American to win a major party’s presidential nomination.
That does not mean that he has erased the mutual distrust between black and white Americans, and this incident could become a watershed event in the 11 days before the election.
If Ms. Todd’s allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.
Revisit their support for Obama not because they are racists? Why then? What exactly is it, Joe, that connects a blackety-black man who attacks a white female McCain volunteer with support or lack of it for the Senator?
It would be encouraging if I could call Foxaganda mere dupes and sloppy journalists for not vetting Todd’s story in the first place. Just an honest mistake in the flurry of day-to-day reporting and commentary. But they don’t deserve to be let off the hook with the incompetence defense. They, Joe Moody included, knew goddamn well what they were doing. Trying against the odds to squeeze out a few more fear votes for John McCain. Using race as the tool. Behaving like a lynch mob, in other words.
The mugger and face carver turned out to be invented. Just as many of us said would turn out to be the case two minutes after we heard the story and saw Ashley's photograph. But the racism of those who exploited that story is no invention. Once again we're shown that whatever strides have been made in the past 40 years, the matter of race is far from being transcended in America.
Some people will say the exploitation of Ashley Todd's bogus story was not really racist. Just as they say that politicians when they try to spur voter fears about the "otherness" or "unAmericanness" of Senator Obama or other non-white candidates for office aren't really racist, not personally racist. It's just campaigning. And campaigns aren't beanbag.
That's puerile nonsense. True, candidates like John McCain (and media execs like Joe Moody and bloggers like Drudge) may not personally believe that African Americans or other non-whites are inferior. They probably don't. But trying to keep people of color "in their place" is, in fact, the very definition of racism.