Obama run brings out the racists

Editor's note: This originally appeared on David Neiwert's blog Orcinus.

It really shouldn't be a surprise, I suppose, that Barack Obama's run for the presidency is bringing out innate racism of so many right-wingers these days. After all, so many of them have had to suppress their Inner Theodore Bilbo for so many years now, it's bound to come squirming out when given the opportunity -- and nothing draws them out like liberal blacks running for political office. Making it the presidency drives them into another sphere altogether.

So far, we have been regaled with the oft-repeated "Hussein" note, the Fox smear of Obama's Muslim background, followed by Limbaugh's astonishing riff on "Barack the Magic Negro". That these reflect a barely concealed racial animus mixed with general white xenophobia should be obvious, and notably, these are all occurring on a national scale, within ostensibly mainstream media sources.

For right-wing audiences, cues like this signal just how far they can take things themselves. So on the public level, the result of this kind of talk is a regular outpouring of old-fashioned racist bile, permission having been granted by leading right-wing voices.

That may be why CBS has had to disallow comments on any of its Web stories about Obama:
Today CBSNews.com informed its staff via email that they should no longer enable comments on stories about presidential candidate Barack Obama. The reason for the new policy, according to the email, is that stories about Obama have been attracting too many racist comments.
"It's very simple," Mike Sims, director of News and Operations for CBSNews.com, told me. "We have our Rules of Engagement. They prohibit personal attacks, especially racist attacks. Stories about Obama have been problematic, and we won't tolerate it."
CBSNews.com does sometimes delete comments on an individual basis, but Sims said that was not sufficient in the case of Obama stories due to "the volume and the persistence" of the objectionable comments.
You also have to wonder if a similar problem was afoot with the recent announcement that the Secret Service was now protecting Obama.

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