This picture of a t-shirt worn by a Romney supporter taken at a recent Ohio campaign has taken the internet by storm, as well it should.
A good friend of mine remarked that at least this man was honest about his feelings instead of hiding behind a euphemism and I wholeheartedly agree with this.
Now to be fair to Romney, his people disavowed this man’s t-shirt, calling it reprehensible.
That’s all nice and dandy. However, what no one can disavow is how President Obama’s election four years ago has revealed how subtle racism is.
Let’s be honest.
A portion – not a majority, and probably not a vast majority – of folks who attack Obama and his policies do so because they simply cant’ deal with the fact of a “darkie” in the White House. And an educated guess is that this group includes prominent people, wealthy people, and Congressional leaders who are especially adept at hiding their prejudices.
We all know this, but very few will to talk about it without getting defensive. And that’s sad because when we don’t talk about it, we get deceived in how some folks can exploit the subtleties of this racist thought and permeate it into our mindsets.
When it comes to racism, folks go out of their way to give it a free pass. What I mean is that if folks aren’t wearing obvious t-shirts like the ignorant man in the picture, if they aren’t burning crosses, or making foul racial slurs, then they generally get a free pass for speech and actions that can be seen as borderline bigotry.
The American public is like a teacher who has a choice between giving a student a passing or failing grade on a test based the benefit of that teacher’s doubt.
Too often, when it comes to words and deeds seen as borderline bigotry, the American public tends to give out too many passing grades than some folks deserve.
My friend labels this borderline bigotry as “euphemisms,” but another phrase which can be used is “dog whistles.” A good example is when Romney said the following after his failed speech at the NAACP:
Romney didn’t say the “N” word and I don’t believe that he is the type to do such. However, in his statement, he clearly exploited the idea that African-Americans are lazy and are voting or Obama to get “free stuff.”
That seems be a train of thought which has befouled the political discussion since Obama’s election – i.e. that he will give “free stuff” to people who don’t deserve it and take away things from folks who work hard to acquire what they have. Race is not mentioned, but don’t think it’s not lurking in the back of the mind.
And let’s not forget Fox News, who in 2010, transformed a ridiculous story involving rag-tag racist African-American group (The New Black Panther Party) into a conspiracy by the Obama Administration to turn a blind eye to racist actions against whites. According to Media Matters, Fox News hyped this story up 95 times by devoting eight hours of discussion to it. And by discussion, I mean innuendo, false claims, and out-and-out lies against the Obama Administration.
When it was all finally said and done, no proof that the Obama Administration had done anything wrong was given. All it came down to was a network spending a considerable amount of time scaring its white viewers about scary black men and a black president who, if not stopped, would allow these scary black men to run roughshod.
Hell, Fox News did everything but talk about the potential rape of white women by “big black brutes.” It’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t been done before.
This sort of hysterical belief exploited by Fox and Romney - that Obama is going to shortchange whites - is just one cover for folks who despise Obama, but are too cowardly to say the obvious reasons why they hate him.
Another cover is demonstrated by this Romney supporter in a recent exchange with Chris Matthews at an Obama rally (starting at .17):
This woman provided no proof of her claim and pretty much humiliated herself on national television. When pressed about her claims, all she could say is “go study it out.” However, in a room full of folks who may agree with her point of view (people stoked by Glenn Beck, the late Andrew Breitbart, and Fox News), she would probably be applauded without the need of showing proof because they all share the connotation that “Obama is not one of us. He is an outsider who will destroy this country and he had no business in the White House in the first place.”
The only irony is that the word “communist” seems to have become a dog whistle for the “N” word. Also the words “colonialist,” “Marxist,” “socialist,” and “Kenyan” are other dog whistles
And nowhere is this more evident than in welfare wingnut Dinesh D’Souza’s cornucopia of Obama-bashing . In his “documentary,” Obama 2016, D’Souza accuses the president of hating and wanting to destroy America because of his father’s beliefs – a man whom he met briefly as a child.
D’Souza’s documentary combines unprovable ominous conspiracy theories and awful portents for the future if Obama is re-elected. The only thing missing is the epilogue announcing D’Souza’s mysterious disappearance with the spooky strains of Ave Satani playing in the background. But it basically comes down to one thing – “Obama is not “one of us.”
But even without D’Souza’s documentary, so many Americans are ready to believe this tripe.
Here is the infamous moment from 2009 when the former senator, Mike Castle, is challenged by a constituent who claims that Obama is not a United States citizen. A lot of folks focused on the inanity of her birther claim, but they missed her rallying screech of “I want my country back!”
I’ve heard that nauseating phrase “I want my country back” or “let’s take our country back” in so many different forms than I care to remember.
Take America back from what? From whom? The “darkie” who has no business in the White House? It disappointed me tremendously that for the most part, the Beltway media and punditry allowed such sinister phraseology to make its way unchallenged into the country’s politispeak alongside other code words like “welfare queen” and “reverse discrimination.”
This implication that Obama somehow stole the election or is a tyrant is something that has nagged on me since day one. Some Americans have been screeching hysterically about dictatorships and communism and “not wanting to end up like Russia.” They have blathered slogans about the “blood of tyrants watering the tree of liberty” while inanely carrying loaded rifles to political speeches. And frankly, they have looked like idiots dressed as bastardized versions of our Founding Fathers with their colonial costumes and tri-cornered hats.
But the plain truth is that some of these “patriots” would either wet their pants or die of shock if faced with a real government dictatorship.
They don’t know anything about being snatched from their beds in the middle of the night by government officials, being beaten to death by sledgehammers and having their bodies fed to crocodiles, being lined up against the wall and shot, or watching their family members being sexually violated before hideously slaughtered.
Instead of spinning notions of Stalinistic endgames, they should get on their knees and be thankful that they never had to endure what some in other countries had to. And they should have the decent common sense to know that Obama wouldn’t invite such atrocities.
The plain fact of the matter about President Obama is this: he is not a “Marxist” or a “communist” or a “socialist” or whatever other label some have used to scandalize him. He is not another Hitler, nor another Stalin. He is not a dictator or a tyrant. He does not hate America nor is he plotting to destroy America.
He is simply a man from a broken home who worked his way up into Harvard, to the United States Senate, and then the White House.
He is the American Dream personified and should be seen a role model for us all, except for one thing that so many people are too cowardly to openly admit.
To them, Obama is simply the wrong color.
And because of their cowardice, these folks have unleashed a plethora of bad euphemisms and four years of dog whistles so odiously numerous that they would create a whole new market for dog whisperers.
It would naive to not admit that Romney – whether knowingly or unknowingly – is benefiting from the racist feelings held against President Obama, regardless of whether these feelings are as pronounced as the wearing of a blatantly racist t-shirt or covertly pushed behind jingoistic drivel.
At the very least, it raises the hair on the back of my neck when I hear Romney describing himself and Paul Ryan as “America’s comeback team.”
It’s a seemingly innocent phrase, but in this climate, it can have subversive meanings to so many.