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.
If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.
For Pittsburgh, a city that has done so much to shape American history over the centuries, another moment of truth is at hand.