Monday, November 28, 2011

Playing the Race Card

Last night, a friend who lives in the boondocks of a middle-American state, a peace-loving woman with hardly a harsh thought in her heart, told me she had to firmly resist hitting someone upside the head, because she saw a bumper sticker on a car that made her see red.  It showed a [normal] picture of Obama and read: Don’t Re-Nig in 2012.

It took her a while to fully digest what “re-nig” was clearly meant to imply, because she just couldn’t believe what she was seeing.  “I wanted to wait for the owner of the car to come back from wherever they were, but they’re all armed out here, and I was afraid.”  Not chicken, just sensible, particularly in a place where more people have gun racks in their cars than baby seats.  But it sure was a reminder that race (as in racist) was a player in 2008 and is rearing its hooded head again in 2012.

In fairness, many people genuinely dislike and distrust Barack Obama, because they truly believe he’s a Socialist (primarily in reaction to what they like to call ObamaCare), a tax loving/blood sucking Democrat who wants to steal from the middle class and redistribute to the poor, and the man who nearly bankrupted the nation by bailing out Wall Street and the auto industry.

There are many who strongly object to his pro-choice position on abortion (baby killer!) and his acceptance of gay rights and gay marriage (even though Mr. Obama has made clear he supports same-sex unions, not marriage, but so what: he supports sodomy!).

There are also those who think he’s arrogant, anti-Semitic and just plain unqualified for the job.  And there are those of us on the Left who, while understanding what he’s been up against since taking office, still feel very betrayed by his Republican Light behavior in a futile attempt to foster bipartisan cooperation in Washington.

That said, I can’t help but feel that lots of people are resisting seeing – or at least talking about – the obvious element of racism in at least a considerable portion of the Far Right’s disrespect of America’s first black president.  While I was somewhat shocked by the bumper sticker my friend saw, it was only somewhat, because I’ve had no doubt that racism is the 600-lb. gorilla in the political room that nobody wants to acknowledge.

Many folks feel it would be counter productive.  I disagree.  I think one of the big mistakes the President has made is not bringing up the issue of race since his splendid speech on the subject during the 2008 campaign.  Contrary to some popular belief, just because we have a black president does not mean that racism in America is a thing of the past; indeed, this achievement has only brought the reality of racism closer to the surface – but not any closer to meaningful discussion.

I told my friend that, in a way, I was glad the racist messages were starting to come out, because it shows what an important role racism plays in the country’s resistance/refusal to accept the President’s legitimacy.  The birther craziness, the claims that Mr. Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim not an American-born Christian, the sneering attitude towards his background as a community organizer, the inability to understand the First Lady’s apparently unforgivable statement in 2008 that for the first time she felt proud of her country (!!!), and, just last week, Rush Limbaugh calling Mrs. Obama “uppity,” are all intertwined with racist sentiment.

The presence of Herman Cain among the current Republican presidential hopefuls is supposed to demonstrate that the Right doesn’t object to black people per se; as Conservative poster girl Ann Coulter observed, “Liberals can’t stand that our blacks are better than their blacks.”  (You can’t make up shit like that.)

But the simple racist reality is that even if Cain wasn’t a know-nothing blowhard and an alleged sexual harasser, there is no way that both major parties would put up a black candidate.  Many white people’s heads would explode from coast to coast.  And the fact that Cain doesn’t seem to know (or at least acknowledge) this racist reality adds another level of political naivety to his other idiocy that completely boggles the mind.

Anyway, I did an extensive Internet search for the “re-nig” bumper sticker and couldn’t find it.  Perhaps it was a custom job; a number of the Web sites that sell hundreds of anti-Obama bumper stickers (and T-shirts, mugs, etc.)  give customers a chance to write their own messages.  But I did find the following bumper stickers, available individually for very reasonable prices and at bargain basement rates in bulk:
Obama To Tax Aspirin – It’s White And It Works!
Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For The White Guy
If He Wins, Can We Still Call It The White House?
Obama Loves America Like O.J. Loved Nicole
Hey Obama, Yo Mama!
King Had A Dream, We Have A Nightmare
Big Brotha Is Watching Us
Obama: White Guilt 2012
High Five For Failure
If You Get Close Enough to Obama’s Ears, You Can Hear
     The Ocean
No Mo’Bama
Give Tiger A Break, Obama Is Screwing 
     The Whole Country
I’m Not Racist, I Hate His White Half, Too
Obama’s Chillin’ While The Oil’s Spillin’
Welcome To Economic Slavery
Don’t Tax Me, Bro
We Shall Overcome [with Obama’s “O”
     logo as both letter Os]
Rush Is Right
I’m Not Racist, I Don’t Like Biden, Either
Mo’ Drama Bama.

The photo above is my personal favorite of the racist visuals available; others include the always-popular Obama as a monkey, Obama in caricature with huge lips and ears, and of course, Obama as Hitler (and Mao, and Marx, etc.), Obama as the devil, and, in a bow to the Democratic Party as a whole, Obama as a donkey.

We on the Left would do well to start including race in our political conversation, not as a way of dismissing the President’s shortcomings or his opponents fiscal and “moral” objections, but in order to demonstrate how unbalanced and ignorant and personal so much anti-Obama feeling is.

It’s a reminder that no matter how disappointed we are about how he handled his first term, he must have a nothing-to-lose second term, in which he will, hopefully, live up to the Right’s greatest fears and our greatest hopes.  We can't afford to permit Teabag Republican heartlessness, self-righteousness and ignorance to take hold.  If it does…Lawdy, Lawdy, what we gonna do?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally depressing..what a list of hate slogans