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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.


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Comment Preferences

  •  They have to be called out just don't expect (5+ / 0-)

    much support. Major elements in the media and society at large think calling out racism is almost as bad as being a racist. It's crazy!

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 11:04:08 AM PDT

  •  Get these conversations taped and get them (5+ / 0-)

    online.  Bother the media with it.  Shame them into acknowledging it.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 11:17:20 AM PDT

  •  It is the Third Rail, for Republicans. The more (6+ / 0-)

    obvious it is to the country as a whole that this party is supported and energized by racists (like those sweet white folks carrying stuffed monkeys to cheer for Sarah Palin), the more moderate and thinking Republicans will change parties and vote for President Obama.

    I hope the Republicans step on this rail in unison come November.

    GOTV for the:

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 11:31:33 AM PDT

  •  We need to address the (6+ / 0-)

    enabling and tacit endorsement of anti-Obama racism that currently exists in our media - the biggest driver of political propaganda. And that goes for the so-called "liberal" media as well.

  •  Me too. (5+ / 0-)

    I am a white woman living in the south and I too have been exposed to these same conversations. The rest of the crowd assumes I am an Obama hater since I am a white southern woman. Their comments are intensely racist. I know people who wil agree with Obama's policies if they are described generally without being attributed to him, but when he is attached to them they balk and try and find problems. I know people who have openly stated they will not vote for him because he is black. These racial sentiments are not being reported. The media is so afraid of being accused of racism they will enable these haters through their silence rather than call them out. Racism is alive and well down south and with Obama in the White House it has come out of the shadows and into the bright light of day.

  •  Sigh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I still don't get it after 30+ years living in Canada. But then I don't get being scared by 'others', of the dark yes but this...

  •  When I was growing up, we spent a year in the (3+ / 0-)

    late 1970's in Northern FL due to a job transfer.  I was absolutely stunned by the racism, back then. (The KKK actually ran a full page ad for a meeting in the Sunday paper.)

    For that matter, they didn't particularly like me as a white Yankee, either.  It seemed to be a constant delight to make me repeat myself over and over, because "I talked too fast."  The game would go on until I gave up trying to say anything at all, and then, I'd get a sweet smile with the meaness shining in their eyes.  

    Yet, if the subject was black people in any way, then I'd find myself enveloped into some creepy, assumed with-the-whites thing, and I'd hear absolutely bizarre things.

    Like what?  My apologies for the offensiveness, but I think it's important to surface some of the specifics.  For instance, a friends father was driving me home, and my friend and I were discussing the upcoming SATs.  Her father said to me, "Can you tell me how those damn jigaboos can pass those tests?  They can't I tell you.  They are changing their scores for them or something."  This came pouring out of the man just out of the blue.  

    I got the message that the name refered to black Americans, but at the time, I had to ask my Mother about it when I got home to be sure.  And, I have no idea who he thought the "they" were who were changing the grades.  I felt like I was in some sort of alien universe when things went down rabbit holes like that.

    I'm getting the impression that things may have not have changed all that much?


    Why do you think the racism and regionalism is so strong in the South?  There seems to be so much barely repressed RAGE underneath.


    What do you think these people really want? What kind of world and situation would make them happy?

    Any insights you might have to offer ... I'd really appreciate it.  I never understood back then, and I don't understand, now.

    Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

    by bkamr on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 12:10:14 PM PDT

    •  No insight other than this. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bkamr, Occam was an optimist, devtob

      After integration, many southern whites held onto their racism, but learned when and where they could express it. They've also learned to use code. For example, instead of wanting to re-segregate schools,, they push for "neighborhood schools" or for school choice.

      •  The school I went to was huge, but I only saw (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Occam was an optimist, annan, devtob

        a handfull of black students, all day.  How?  The administration said there were too many students to be in the halls all at the same time and too many to bus at the same time.  So, they had two arrival times with staggered hall changes all day long ... based on the neighborhoods that got picked up.  

        Congressional districts weren't the only things gerrymandered.

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 12:29:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Has this bee successfully passed down to the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Occam was an optimist, devtob

        majority of the next generation, as far as you can tell?

        Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

        by bkamr on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 12:30:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If racist parents demur, talk radio and Fox "News" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ensure that racism persists as the essence of white working class grievances about government.

          Without the "n" word, of course.

          A public option for health insurance is a national priority.

          by devtob on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:12:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You're absolutely right. How do we address it? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    The casual, blatant racism that is part of everyday life in America, especially (but sure as hell not exclusively) in the former Confederate States, is a virulent reality. And it is a huge part of the furious rage directed at the Obama Presidency. Sure, Bill Clinton was the target of some crazy-ass rage from the future teabagger crowd, but it's surely different in character from what Obama faces. How many openly called for Clinton's assassination, or compared him to a monkey?

    We need to shame people. We need people to feel ashamed of their own behavior for naked racism. And I have to think that starts at home and at school.

  •  My hope is this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Occam was an optimist

    The racism does seem to be lessening with each generation. Right now, there are still a lot of folks around who were adults during the civil rights movement. Although there is racism to be found in youth and young adults, they do seem more likely to have friends of other races.

  •  Whether we choose to call out the racism or not (3+ / 0-)

    (always a tricky matter), we & the media should at least speak out loudly and consistently against its manifestations: like voter I.D. laws which disenfranchise some likely Democratic (or Obama) voters, statements which disparage people of color like the wannabe next Pres. by saying that some people want "free stuff" after speaking to the NAACP, etc.  We should all speak out against such things. Conversely, we should pay attention when Rmoney is held to a looser standard than Senator Obama was 4 yrs ago.  If the MSM doesn't pay attention, someone should.

  •  Bravo for this courageous diary... (0+ / 0-)

    There is also the taboo about discussing racism intersecting with religious doctrine and practice.

    I especially enjoyed a diary by hungrycoyote about an especially well articulated description of what happens for some racists.

    Charles Blow Explains What Makes Little Bombs Go Off In Republican Minds UPDATED by hungrycoyote

    I can vouch for that.  I've seen expressions of it in people who were otherwise intelligent and gracious adults.

  •  Sometimes, I just listen to the first of such (0+ / 0-)

    sentiments and then find an excuse to walk away if I don't think there is anywhere to go from there.

    That may sound cowardly, but it's the "pick your battles" principle.

  •  Othertimes, at the beginning of such sentiments, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    I find that just acknowledging the person can shift their attention to themselves...

    and they will change the subject to something that interests them more... and then giving them attention helps them shift out of their hatred mode.

    Occasionally, if I think it will make any difference, I'll then redirect them back to their earlier comments, by asking simple questions:  "Did you really mean what you said back there?"

    If they are not in hate speech mode, they will sometimes confess vulnerability, confusion, or anxiety, and then I try to plant a tiny seed of truth.

    But in reality, when seeds fall on barren ground it takes a lot of fertilizer and patience before anything new MIGHT take root.

    In my experience, most overt racism is coming from people who are desperately trying to convince themselves they are right and they are testing for allies who will validate something for them.

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