With all the hoo-hah over Sarah Palin’s documented desire to ban books from the Wasilla public library, and her vindictive effort to fire a popular city librarian who openly expressed her opposition to mayoral censorship, perhaps we should have been focusing less on the books Palin wanted to ban, and a bit more on the books she actually reads.
As New York Times columnist Frank Rich astutely pointed out on Sunday, Americans should find Palin’s apparent reading list downright scary:
This was made clear in the most chilling passage of Palin’s acceptance speech. Aligning herself with “a young farmer and a haberdasher from Missouri” who “followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency,” she read a quote from an unidentified writer who, she claimed, had praised Truman: “We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity.”
[…] There were several creepy subtexts at work here. The first was the choice of Truman. Most 20th-century vice presidents and presidents in both parties hailed from small towns, but she just happened to alight on a Democrat who ascended to the presidency when an ailing president died in office. Just as striking was the unnamed writer she quoted. He was identified by Thomas Frank in The Wall Street Journal as the now largely forgotten but once powerful right-wing Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler.
Palin, who lies with ease about her own record, misrepresented Pegler’s too. He decreed America was “done for” after Truman won a full term in 1948. For his part, Truman regarded the columnist as a “guttersnipe,” and with good reason. Pegler was a rabid Joe McCarthyite who loathed F.D.R. and Ike and tirelessly advanced the theory that American Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe (“geese,” he called them) were all likely Communists.
So… exactly how right-wing was Pegler? As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. points out today on the Huffington Post, so right-wing as to have publicly called for his father’s assassination.
Fascist writer Westbrook Pegler, an avowed racist who Sarah Palin approvingly quoted in her acceptance speech for the moral superiority of small town values, expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that “some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow flies.”
When a vice presidential candidate can admiringly quote a fascist, racist, anti-semitic hate-monger like Pegler—in her acceptance speech no less—and America barely bats an eye, it tells you a lot about where our nation is potentially going.