10 Horrifying Racist Attacks on Obama
The warm months of 1969 came to be known as the "summer of love." Surely the past months of 2009 will go down in history as the "summer of hate" -- with fearsome crowds of thuggish, and almost entirely white, conservatives railing against Barack Obama's stimulus package and proposals for health care reform and "cap-and-trade" climate legislation.
At least, those are the ostensible targets.
But the overheated rhetoric masks a more fundamental complaint about the perceived loss of white America's tribal power in an era with the first African American president.
At this summer's "tea parties," town hall meetings and the recent march on Washington organized by Fox News talker Glenn Beck, signs with Obama portrayed as an African witch doctor, complete with a bone through his nose, and signs claiming Obama is the rightful president only of Kenya and other thinly disguised racial markers have been commonplace.
Clearly, these demonstrations of inchoate rage are about more than public policy. Former President Jimmy Carter stepped into the fray this week, stating the obvious: "intensely demonstrated animosity" toward Obama, the 39th president said, is "based on the fact that he is a black man." This elicited a torrent of angry denunciations from right-wing media.
While Carter might have overstated the degree to which the anger is motivated by racial animus -- saying it was behind "an overwhelming portion" of the criticisms lobbed at Obama -- it's clear not only from the street protests, but also from the rhetoric employed by the conservative media elite that racism is indeed alive in "post-racial America," and is certainly ratcheting up the temperature of the country's discourse.
We took a tour of that discourse and present 10 recent examples of the kind of racially charged barbs that played a part in Carter's statement.
1. Oh no! Evil monkeys stole our balls!
You know who really had their act together? British colonists in India. But oppressing a country of hundreds of millions for more than a century was not without its dangers. For instance, sometimes monkeys descended on the Brits' golf courses and stole their balls.
And that it is how former House Whip Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chose to illustrate the challenges facing conservatives in the Obama era. Friday, AlterNet's Adele Stan reported Blunt's words to the conservative Values Summit:
"... Something they didn't anticipate was monkeys came running out of the jungle, and they grabbed the golf balls ... and they might throw the golf ball back at you. ... So for this golf course, and this golf course and this golf course only, they passed a rule, and the rule was, you have to play the ball where the monkey throws it."
The crowd roared with laughter.
He went on to say that he recently saw a bumper sticker he liked that read: "Don't let Obama find out what comes after a trillion."
2. Rush Limbaugh, worried about future of favorite cookie, blows off steam by making racist joke about Obama
In a July broadcast, Rush Limbaugh voiced his displeasure -- nay, outrage -- about food-safety advocates potentially "going after" Oreo cookies. Added the great wit: "Might have to put that off until Obama's out of office, but they'll eventually go after Oreos."
3. When you weren't looking, Obama snuck reparations into the health care bill
This is why we have to be vigilant. According to Beck and Limbaugh, Obama is using health reform to force reparations for slavery from white America. Beck: "Everything getting pushed through Congress -- including this health care bill -- is transforming America. And it's all driven by President Obama's thinking on one idea: reparations. ... He believes in all the 'universal' programs because they ‘disproportionately affect' people of color" (All of whom Obama knows personally, cause … you know … ).
Not one to be outdone, Limbaugh cast a wider net, saying: "Obama's entire program is reparations!"
4. Addendum: When you weren't looking, Obama snuck affirmative action in the health care bill
Obama's plan to make African Americans the white man's evil overlords doesn't end with secret reparations: Apparently, the health care bill is also being used to smuggle in affirmative action. "The medical schools will get more federal dollars if they have proven … that they are putting minorities ahead" according to Beck.
5. Obama responsible for school bullying
Last week, a Drudge headline screamed: "White Student Beaten on School Bus; Crowd Cheers."
Drudge is presumably aware that this isn't the first time school children have engaged in fisticuffs. But in highlighting the item as breaking "news," the site was clearly trying to tap into the bizarre race paranoia sweeping Wing-Nut Nation. It did not take long for Limbaugh to make Drudge's implicit race bating explicit:
"In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,' " said Limbaugh, in a very accurate approximation of how black kids talk, of course.
6. Limbaugh comes up with a solution to America's complex race issues: Separate but equal!
Then, Limbaugh used the incident to essentially propose a return to the doctrine of "separate but equal," saying, "I mean, that's the lesson we're being taught here today. Kid shouldn't have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses -- it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama's America."
Or, you know, the black kids could just sit in the back of the bus.
7. Our president is angry?
Obama comes across as a pretty even-keeled, pleasant person. But maybe it's all an act, meant to mask his true nature, which, according to Limbaugh, is that of a really common racist archetype: the angry black man.
"[T]hey're finally hearing me. 'He's an angry black guy.' I do believe that about the president. I do believe he's angry. I think his wife is angry."
Surprisingly, Limbaugh did not add that Michelle Obama was also good at nursing other people's kids or preparing pancakes.
8. Birther conspiracy
A while back, a bunch of people felt kinda weird publicly saying that Obama shouldn't be president because he's black. They came up with this enterprising solution: latch onto an insane conspiracy theory claiming that the president is illegitimate because he's not a natural-born citizen of the U.S.
One of those people was Lou Dobbs, who managed to destroy the last shreds of his reputation and dignity by pushing the birther conspiracy onto prime time on CNN.
9. Half-white president hates whites?
Carter's remarks that many of the attacks against the president are fueled by racism really, really hurt conservatives' feelings. Beck, for example, sniffed (but didn't break into wild sobbing, as he often does) that it was wrong to accuse someone of racism without hard evidence. This lesson in etiquette is one Beck must have learned recently, because less than two months ago, the shock-jock accused Obama of being a racist with a "deep-seated hatred for white people … and white culture."
Beck did not elaborate on what he meant by "white culture."
10. General tea-baggery
Conservatives are trying to sell town hall disruptions and the various forms of tea-bagging going on as legitimate protests against the Democrats' agenda. While that's certainly true of many people who show up at these events, it's hard not to be a little wary of the real reason some people take part, when we see signs like this, this, this and this.