Racism Review: White Fear and White Voters: A Florida Example

Racism Review

White Fear and White Voters: A Florida Example

Well, substantial white fear can be seen in many places this week. As Jessienoted yesterday in passing, FoxNews was reporting and nowTampaBayOnline (Tampa Bay Tribune newspaper) has this email from a volunteer in the Florida Republicans’ Temple Terrace office that was passed along by David Storck, chair of the Hillsborough County Republican Party, who tells his team to pass it along and thereby signals he agrees with it helping “us to win this election”:

THE THREAT: HERE IN TEMPLE TERRACE, FL OUR REPUBLICAN HQ IS ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR LIBRARY, WHICH IS AN EARLY VOTING SITE. I SEE CARLOADS OF BLACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS COMING FROM THE INNER CITY TO CAST THEIR VOTES FOR OBAMA.

The email was sent around in these very assertive ALL CAPS, indicating a high level of emotion, including fear. Some of it signals the old white racial frame: Scary black folks “coming from the inner city” voting “in carloads,” in what is apparently a whiter area. One can feel the palpable fear here. The email continues:

THIS IS THEIR CHANCE TO GET A BLACK PRESIDENT AND THEY SEEM TO CARE LITTLE THAT HE IS AT MINIMUM, SOCIALIST, AND PROBABLY MARXIST IN HIS CORE BELIEFS. AFTER ALL, HE IS BLACK–NO EXPERIENCE OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS–BUT HE IS BLACK.

Notice again the level of racialized emotion in this message. Today, some conservative Republicans are back to fighting a Cold War against “Marxism,” a theme that is part of the national McCain-Palen attack line. When in difficulty, the U.S. right-wing likes smear tactics that place a political candidate who is obviously a centrist Democrat as “socialist” or “Marxist.” These themes seem to be just some cover for viewing Senator Obama in old antiblack terms, as the harping here on blackness suggests.

Salon: Is Barack Obama a socialist?

Salon

Is Barack Obama a socialist?

If he is, then so is John McCain. But the charge is just a racial dog whistle anyway. Can you say “welfare queen”?John McCain, struggling to catch up with Barack Obama in the last days of the campaign, has finally found a theme for a campaign that until now has lacked one. He is running for the White House to defend capitalism against socialism. Because Barack Obama in an unguarded moment to Joe the Plumber said he wanted to “spread the wealth,” McCain and Palin are painting the senator from Illinois as a “redistributionist” or “redistributor” (they can’t decide on the appropriate term), a subversive and sinister figure who is peddling “socialism.” It’s not enough for McCain to run against Obama as though he were George McGovern. McCain is trying to equate Obama with Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, the socialist candidates for the presidency of yesteryear. Never mind that Jonah Goldberg has spent a couple of years denouncing liberal fascism. Fascists last week, progressives like Obama are now socialists. Which is to say, “commies.”

Without exception, all of the policies supported by Obama belong to broad categories of public policies that have been supported, in one form or another, by conservative-libertarian thinkers like Friedman and von Hayek and conservative politicians like Reagan, George W. Bush and McCain himself. The differences between them and Obama are differences of degree, not of kind.

But while this is true it may not matter, if McCain’s last-minute clarion call is really a racial “dog whistle.” The McCain campaign may appear to be debating public philosophy, when in fact it is making a disguised appeal to white racism. If that is the case, then “redistributionist” and “socialist” may be intended to be understood by white swing voters as code words that function the way that “welfare queen” did for the Reagan campaign. A “socialist” or “redistributionist” is a politician who taxes white people like Joe the Plumber and gives money to … you know who.

If this is the tactic, then it might be working. The polls are tightening in the final days of the campaign. Should McCain surprise the pundits and pull off a victory, historians may judge that it was because of his desperate insinuation that white people would be taxed to pay for welfare for Latinos and blacks. And if he should lose, conservative operatives planning for the next cycle may decide that this was the right tactic, pursued too late. Whether he wins or loses, by using “socialist” and “redistributionist” in an environment in which they were likely to be interpreted as racially charged smears, John McCain may have damaged not only his reputation but our society.

Newsweek: The Moderate Voice: Socialism is the New Black (Guest Voice)

Newsweek

The Moderate Voice: Socialism is the New Black (Guest Voice)

 

Lately, the word is picking up steam as a way for certain camps to remind the voters of Obama’s heritage as an African American and try to connect the two ideas. A clever new ploy to say the color of skin matters and can lead to dangerous paths. Some are working awfully hard to say, socialism has become the new black.

It’s like a grownup version of the old Ovaltine decoder ring that helped loyal viewers discover the hidden message. Be afraid of Obama because he’s not just like us, wink, wink.

Instead, whip out the word socialist to divert, confuse and inspire fear in the voters. Ah, at last, an insult that might work even if it has no basis in fact.

Let me translate this one for voters. The manipulation is to get us to look at Obama and see someone who may not act in the best interests of anyone who doesn’t look just like him. Maybe if the fear creeps in just enough we won’t look at his proposals in detail and realize that there are tangible tax breaks for small to mid-size business owners. Tax breaks that are plausible even in our present circumstances.

Maybe we won’t catch that part where he was pointing out that ‘spreading the wealth’ referred to the large corporations who actually pay less in taxes. The same ones who are mopping up billions in taxpayer bailouts to save their hides without pondering whether or not that would slide them into the socialist category. No moral issues there.

The best news, though, that is coming out of all of the socialist baiting is that it appears most of us have grown weary of being treated as if we have no common sense. Polls are reflecting the strength of the new diverse culture where every voice is given the opportunity to speak.

 

Talking Points Memo: Race-Baiter McCain

Talking Points Memo

Race-Baiter McCain

New McCain Line: Obama’s taking your money to give to his welfare-lovin’ peeps.

Judis could see it yesterday before McCain uncorked this latest belch of his filth.

    Talking Points Memo: All From the Same Script

    Talking Points Memo

    All From the Same Script

    From John Judis

    “I mention the Bradley effect because I think, too, that McCain and Sarah Palin’s attack against Obama for advocating “spreading the wealth” and for “socialism” and for pronouncing the civil rights revolution a “tragedy” because it didn’t deal with the distribution of wealth is aimed ultimately at white working class undecided voters who would construe “spreading the wealth” as giving their money to blacks. It’s the latest version of Reagan’s “welfare queen” argument from 1980. It if it works, it won’t be because most white Americans actually oppose a progressive income tax, but because they fear that Obama will inordinately favor blacks over them. I don’t doubt that this argument will have some effect, but I suspect it’s too late and that worries about McCain and Republican handling of the economy will overshadow these concerns.”

    Just more McCain filth.

    Politico: Right tries to make ‘socialist’ tag stick

    Politico

    Right tries to make ‘socialist’ tag stick

    A seven-year-old radio interview of Barack Obama lamenting that the Warren Court “never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth” resurfaced on Sunday, giving conservatives and Republicans a new opportunity to pin the “socialist” label on the Illinois Democrat as the 2008 presidential campaign winds to an end. 

    A recording of then- state Sen. Obama speaking with Chicago public radio station WBEZ was posted Sunday on YouTube by Naked Emperor News, a conservative site that focuses on Obama videos, many related to his association with 1960’s radical William Ayers. 

    “Obama Bombshell Audio Uncovered,” the headline on the site reads. “He wants to radically reinterpret the constitution to redistribute wealth!! Obama is discussing the best way to bring about a redistribution of wealth!!!” 

    Early Monday morning, the Drudge Report highlighted the video with the blaring headline “2001 OBAMA: TRAGEDY THAT ‘REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH’ NOT PURSUED BY SUPREME COURT.” 

    Having gone viral in a manner of hours, Obama’s rivals jumped on the video as further proof that an offhand comment Obama made to an Ohio man now dubbed “Joe the Plumber” — that it was time to “spread the wealth around” — was not a slip, but a statement of ideology. 

    Right Wing News: If Obama’s Administration Takes Your 401K, Can We Call Him A Socialist The

    Right Wing News

    If Obama’s Administration Takes Your 401K, Can We Call Him A Socialist The 

    A dear reader wrote yesterday that using the term “socialist” is a code word:

    Martin Luther King Jr, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, A. Philip Randolph, etc were all denounced as “socialists”. Just as with Obama, the term is employed as a euphamism for something else entirely.Righties have simply reached back in history to use an old code word for black. It set whites apart from those deemed unAmerican and those who could not be trusted during the communism scare. It’s funny, McCain wants to buy your house – and Obama’s the socialist.

     

    Well, I don’t know about whether the aforementioned men were socialist or not. What I know is this: socialism is soothing ideology in troubled times and for people who are afraid about their survival. And socialism never turns out the way people hope or plan.