Making Sense Of The Issues And Ideologies That Shape Politics In The United States

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Racism: The Third Rail of the 2012 Election

(also published as a diary on dailykos)

I know that it's real. I have witnessed it firsthand. More times than I care to recount.

Being a white male living in a small town in the South, I am often privy to conversations where everyone is assumed to be a conservative Obama-hater. I have heard him called the n-word. I have heard his assassination called for. I have heard the theory expounded at length that white men founded this nation, that a white man should always be in the White House, and that Obama's presence there represents the decline of a once great society.

When I go online, however, and try to talk about the racism that is real and that undergirds much of the anti-Obama sentiment found on the right, I am usually accused of being small-minded and racist myself. I wish more folks could have my experience of hearing the bigotry and the race-based hatred firsthand.

Which begs one very important question as Barack Obama runs for reelection. What role, if any, should race and racism play in the conversation? It is clearly part of much of the behind-the-scenes conversation on the right, with bigotry that is as old as the nation itself being baited to energize certain aspects of the Republican base. We have even seen Republican officials admit that there have been meetings to plan how to block black voters from the polls.

In short, if the rest of us decide to talk about these disturbing matters, it is not injecting the race card. It is merely responding to the veiled and not-so-veiled racism that is already influencing the campaign.

My opinion? It's time to call out the racist elements on the right when and where we uncover it. The more we let this sort of reprehensible politics go unchallenged out of fear of being called politically incorrect, the more we enable the bigotry that our nation should have moved past long ago.

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking about how this manifests itself in subtle (yet yucky) ways, in addition to the very explicit comments that you unfortunately hear in your context. A couple of days ago, I was hearing people on the radio talking about a movement (was it a conference?) of some Jewish people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but who plan to vote for Romney in November. There is nothing racist, of course, in changing a vote. But people kept using the phrase "buyer's remorse." I understand that the phrase is most easily understood in a context of capitalism (that might be a conversation for another day). But given the history of slavery and racism in this country, isn't that a terrible phrase? - not only to use, but to deliberately CHOOSE for a conference?