Adams: Signs of the political times keep disappearing

Pam Adams

Black equals bad.

Bad equals Muslim.

Muslim equals terrorism.

Terrorism equals fear.

Fear equals the economy.

Economic remedies for a fearful economy equal socialism.

Socialism equals bad.

Bad equals black ...

The circular logic leads us to the local couple who believe Barack Obama has a secret plan to turn the country over to Muslims. The Republican who told me about them couldn't believe he heard them say what he heard them say.

And, further along the spectrum of circular logic that makes you go "uhmmm," we go to the retired Peoria police sergeant who can't understand why Obama campaign signs keep disappearing from his yard.

Charles Henry Cannon lives on a long street in a quiet, well-kept subdivision near Northwoods Mall. There are only three Obama signs in the yards along his street and they all keep disappearing.

"Every time mine goes, theirs go," he says. "They all leave the same night, it's always a Saturday night."

It's happened twice in the last two months. Cannon and his neighbors are on their third Obama signs. "Every time they take one, I'm going to put another one out," he says. But his wife has taken to taking their Obama sign inside at night.

People of differing political persuasions throughout the area may be dealing with the mystery of vanishing political campaign signs. It is, after all, the political season, and this is a more volatile season than any in a long, long time. A volunteer at Republican Party headquarters says a few people have told her about missing McCain/Palin yard signs. In the most recent, a resident suspected neighborhood children were the culprits.

Based on his years on the police force, Cannon doesn't think his vanishing signs are the work of kids or pranksters. Back in September, his neighborhood was also targeted with racist fliers warning white people they weren't safe in Peoria. His neighbor's "McCain/Palin" sign hasn't been touched, he says.

"But they're fine folks," he adds quickly. "And you know what else is funny, I've got a Darin LaHood sign in my yard. They never bother that."

LaHood, the Republican candidate running for Peoria County states' attorney, likes to tout his experience on a federal anti-terrorism task force. That gets us back to a tendency on the part of some to conflate differences in race, religion and/or economic philosophy into something fearful. LaHood may know better than to make irrational connections based on absurd evidence, but if Cannon's yard sign is indeed more than a prank, he may benefit from people who don't. His yard sign stays, Obama's go.

To be truly American, according to the inner circles of this circular logic of musical chairs, someone always has to be The Other, the strange, the exotic, the different who can't jostle his way into a seat in the circle. This thinking is anti-American in its ideals, but it's in firm keeping with American realities. Whoever the most prominent Other is at any given time, that Other is almost always portrayed as less American, less patriotic.

The anti-American tactic seems to work less and less, which is a sign of America at its best.

In endorsing Obama for president, former Secretary of State Colin Powell was at his most eloquent when he described the headstone of a young soldier buried in Arlington Cemetery. "It didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It had the crescent and star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American."

If Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan could die for his country, surely Barack Hussein Obama shouldn't have to hesitate to use his middle name. And Charles Henry Cannon shouldn't have to worry about keeping an Obama sign in his yard.

Pam Adams can be reached