Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Racism Update

Election spurs 'hundreds' of race threats, crimes

Incidents include (the following is taken from the article):

Four North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head." Obama has received more threats than any other president-elect, authorities say.

At Standish, Maine, a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store read: "Osama Obama Shotgun Pool." Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. "Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count," the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written "Let's hope someone wins."

Racist graffiti was found in places including New York's Long Island, where two dozen cars were spray-painted; Kilgore, Texas, where the local high school and skate park were defaced; and the Los Angeles area, where swastikas, racial slurs and "Go Back To Africa" were spray painted on sidewalks, houses and cars.

Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted "assassinate Obama," a district official said.

University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. "It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork," Houston said.

Black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the Bangor Daily News reported. The president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas said a rope found hanging from a campus tree was apparently an abandoned swing and not a noose.

Crosses were burned in yards of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J., and Apolacan Township, Pa.

A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted 'Obama.'

In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying "now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house."


While it's certainly unreasonable to credit all or most of these incidents to the tone of the McCain/Palin campaign, one cannot argue that a political machine that counts among its weapons The Southern Strategy, dog-whistle politics and tolerance for groups that repeatedly accused Obama of being a foreign-born muslim with terrorist ties certainly opened the door for some of this behavior.

When all you're left running on is portraying your opponent as "The Other," as mysterious and dangerous, you essentially dehumanize him to a point where these kinds of thoughts and acts seem acceptable to some elements of the population.

Moreover, refrains about "redistribution of wealth," and "street-level thugs" (used to describe ACORN members) and "softness on crime" were all excellent dog-whistle phrases for baiting the worst members of society who would read those as "free checks for shiftless blacks," "drug gangs" and "sympathy for theft and murder."

Finally, when you uncritically endorse the ugly Jim Crow-inspired narrative of an innocent southern white girl having her face carved up by some menacing lurking negro, you have no more recourse to protest. Especially when even a VP of FOX News condemns the story as the worst sort of race-baiting.

McCain/Palin and their advisors let the racist genie out of the bottle, and now the onus is on them to forcefully, thoroughly and repeatedly castigate this mentality and behavior, if not to stamp it out then at least to do their level best to try to cram it back in.

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