It was clear to me a long time ago that should Sen. Barack Obama lose to Sen. John McCain, racism will be the major reason why. Problem is, few people will admit that they are reluctant to vote for a brown-colored candidate. But bigotry lives in the US and many people are not as enlightened or open-minded as they may pretend. Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive sees this sickening reality too.
I got an inkling of [it] in the spring when I went to give a talk in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, about an hour north of Milwaukee. At the dinner beforehand, I was sitting with three elderly white women, who told me they had never voted against a Democrat in their lives. But this time, they couldn’t vote for Obama.
I asked why.
One woman instantly said, “Race has nothing to do with it,” which I took to be a tell.
I asked her what was it, then. And she could not give me any coherent reason.
An article in the Wisconsin State Journal on July 20 mentioned Allan Peck, a white, 50-year-old repairman from Beaver Dam, who said his friends think, “with a colored President,” the government “will lean more toward the colored people, and we’ll be a minority.”
JoAnn Wypijewski covered the Ohio Democratic primary for The Nation. A white man in a bar in Springfield, Ohio, told her: “I’m not going to vote for the nigger.” Another man from across the bar exclaimed that he knew he wasn’t voting for “the nigger.”
Kevin Merida of The Washington Post reported on the race issue in a May 13 story. Obama campaign workers were startled by the racism they encountered, he said. During the Pennsylvania primary, one woman working the phone bank to voters in Susquehanna County, which is 98 percent white, barely got anywhere. One caller told her: “Hang that darky from a tree.”
The article also mentioned a letter to the editor in a local Pennsylvania paper from Tunkhannock Borough Mayor Norm Ball, a Hillary Clinton supporter. He wrote: “There is so much that people don’t know about his upbringing in the Muslim world. His stepfather was a radical Muslim and the ranting of his minister against the white America, you can’t convince me that some of that didn’t rub off.”
These are not random and atypical responses. A New York Times/CBS poll in July asked white respondents if people they knew would cast a ballot for a black candidate. A whopping 19 percent said their friends would not.
The appeals to racism started subtly. Actually, they began not so subtly with Hillary Clinton, when she talked about “hard-working Americans, white Americans.” But on the Republican side, for a while, coyness was the order of the day. The McCain campaign discussed race explicitly only after Obama said he doesn’t look like other people on the dollar bill. The McCain folks were only too eager to say Obama was playing the race card. They also used all the talk about Obama being arrogant, or an elitist, or a celebrity as a cue for the unspoken epithet of “uppity.”
Then it was spoken. Representative Lynn Westmoreland, Republican from Georgia, called Obama “uppity.” When The Hill newspaper followed up by pointing out that the word was racially loaded, Westmoreland did not back off. “Uppity, yeah,” he said.
It’s likely to get uglier.
With Election Day approaching, McCain surrogates or supporters may not be able to resist the temptation to fan the flames of racism. Expect the snippets of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright to resurface. Expect video of Michelle Obama sounding militant. Expect disgusting ads about Obama’s admitted drug use as a very young man. Expect that picture of Obama in Muslim garb again.
This campaign will ultimately be a referendum on the intractability of racism.
by Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive: Racism and the Race
And don’t complain about it, or you’ll be labeled anti-American. What a country…