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 "that fucking nigger." 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 fromt he 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 left decides 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.