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Letter: Exploiting the fear factor

About 300 people gathered at a mosque in Dayton, Ohio, to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

During Ramadan the Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset so families had come for a prayer service and to break their fast. The toddlers and the babies in cribs were in a basement room watched by one woman and a 10-year-old girl while the adults held their prayer service.

The girl was near the open window when the two men outside sprayed a chemical irritant inside. Coughing, crying and fearful, they evacuated the mosque. Some were Iraqis who had fled from death threats because of their help for American forces.

Speculation is that the mosque attack was "inspired" by an anti-Muslim DVD delivered by 70 different newspapers across the country as an ad paid for by right-wing groups.

I believe the DVD was added to eight years of using fear as a political tactic by the Bush administration. Tom Ridge, former head of Homeland Security, admitted that he was directed several times to raise the terror index when he couldn't see a reason. But the increased fear was politically expedient.

Instead of focusing on the issues, the McCain-Palin campaign has attempted a subtle twist of the fear factor. With the frequent evocation of Barack Obama's middle name, of Bill Ayers' name at rallies and robo-calls, they try to change the fear of foreign attacks to fear of Obama. Their supporters who shout "traitor," "kill him," "off with his head" and "treason" show that the strategy is dividing our country. "Minnesota nice" wasn't so nice when McCain's supporters booed him as he tried to lower the rhetoric.

A time warp descended on the nation as Chris Matthews interviewed Michele Bachmann. She went beyond partisanship when she said that she was "very concerned that he may have anti-American views" and she also believes that the FBI and the media should investigate whether congressional members have "pro-American or anti-American views." Shades of McCarthy!

This rhetoric widens the divide between conservatives and progressives when we need to work together to solve our economic and world problems.

Barbara M. Edwards