The Colony South Hotel & Conference Center in Clinton, Md., has hosted fundraisers for Barack Obama, held a prayer breakfast for a local Democrat, hosted a meeting for the African-American Democratic club and hosted a home foreclosure program for Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer. But now that they had the audacity to put up a McCain-Palin campaign sign on their front lawn they are being threatened with an angry response from Obama supporters. (h/t Big Dog)
The act has enraged so many Obama supporters that even the NAACP has weighed in on the issue. Other Democrat activists are stirring talk of a boycott with explicit reference to shutting the hotel out of consideration as host for future political conferences; a strong arm tactic that has severe financial repercussions so close to Washington DC.
The sign went up Sunday evening, bold black letters against the stark white background of the marquee at the Colony South Hotel & Conference Center in Clinton: "Country First. McCain/Palin."
By daybreak, pandemonium had broken loose all across heavily Democratic Prince George's County. Many local supporters of Democrat Barack Obama, jolted by the message as they headed down Branch Avenue on their Monday morning commutes, grabbed cellphones and BlackBerrys to notify friends. Operators of neighborhood e-mail group lists cried foul to their memberships. The NAACP logged calls. Community leaders demanded boycotts of the hotel, a common venue for Democratic events.
The Washington Post reported this episode of angry Obama supporters in section C01 of their Sunday paper; which probably explains why you might not have heard about it. The WaPo reporter did however include mandatory mention of Republican rage as a buffer to blunt the acts of Democrats that abhor conservative political speech.
The outcry over the hotel marquee tapped into the passion -- and sometimes anger -- that has characterized this fall's presidential campaign. Supporters of Republican candidate John McCain have vented their rage at rallies this week, applauding thunderously as McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists."
And Democratic activists started talking boycott. That could mean canceling political events at the hotel and urging residents to skip its Wednesday night karaoke events and Sunday brunches.
"While a business has the right to display what it chooses, the public has a right to show its contempt for that decision, including boycotting," said Mel Franklin, president of the Greater Marlboro Democratic Club.
What I found most interesting however was the characterization and vilification of the business as being disrespectful to area residents.
"Businesspeople have to be mindful of the sentiments and sensibilities of their market trading area, and Prince George's County is overwhelmingly for Obama," said community activist Arthur Turner of Kettering, who was among those advocating a boycott. "People I have talked to look at the sign as a slap in the face. They feel it was blatant disrespect. . . . I have heard people say they will no longer patronize Colony South because of that disrespect."
One professor was quoted in the report as equating the sign to a stinking smoke bomb.
The marquee supporting the GOP ticket in "an area that is strongly African American was like putting a stink bomb in the middle of the living room," said University of Maryland political Professor Ron Walters. "What it does show is the emotions that are around this campaign and this election."
Can you imagine what tomorrow's headline would be if anyone said "supporting the Obama ticket in an area that is strongly white is like putting a stink bomb in the middle of a living room"? Whites are already being called racist for opposing Barack Obama's policies and associations. A statement like this would be spoon fed to the mainstream media.
The story turns comical as business owner and Obama supporter Mary Brantley is described as being heartened to see that the marquee had been removed only to be filled with hand wringing consternation at seeing it had been replaced by a McCain Palin banner with the Country First slogan, again!
Mary Brantley, a travel agency owner from Upper Marlboro, belongs to the health club at Colony South and was among those who complained to the hotel. She was heartened to see the marquee changed Wednesday. It now advertises football games.
But as she drove past the hotel Friday afternoon, she couldn't help notice the two large banners in the front yard proclaiming: "McCain Palin. Country First." Again.
Ah the irony.