Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The quiet racial campaign against Obama

-- by Dave

There's an ugly below-the-radar campaign involving naked racial appeals being waged against Barack Obama in various locales around the country. In at least one case -- in Roxbury, N.J. -- white supremacists have been involved:

A flier left on driveways in a neatly packaged plastic envelope and distributed by a group named the League of American Patriots, with a Butler mailing address, questioned, "Do You Want A Black President?" and stated "Black Ruled Nations most unstable and violent in the world."

... Roxbury resident Elizabeth Corsetto said she and her husband came home from doing errands Saturday and found the flier at the end of their driveway. She picked it up, expecting a mailer from a retailer but instead found a one-page, black and white sheet featuring unflattering photos of Obama, including a doctored one portraying him with a long beard and turban.

"Why should we seal our fate by allowing a black ruler to destroy us?" asked the flier, which also detailed what it contended to be a series of facts on black unemployment, poverty, HIV and crime rates, while pointing out the woes of a couple of predominantly black-populated countries.

Another racist publication, from the neo-Nazis who brought you the 2006 Toledo riots, even went so far as to publish a coy magazine toying with the suggestion that Obama be assassinated.

Most of these racial campaigns target specific communities -- namely, voters in heavily white districts. In some cases, as the New York Times reports today, the appeals are more subtle (and the people behind them deny racist intent) -- but the racial nature of the ads they're running is unmistakable:

One links Senator Barack Obama to the former mayor of Detroit, Kwame M. Kilpatrick, an African-American whose political career unraveled in scandal. The other features Mr. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A Wright Jr., also black, and his now infamous sermon marked by the words “God damn America.”

The advertisements, from a political action committee that is not connected to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, are running only here, in Macomb County, heavily populated by white, unionized auto workers, once considered “Reagan Democrats,” whose votes could largely determine which candidate wins Michigan, a state vital to both sides.

The advertisements point up the unusual nature of this year’s more potentially pernicious political attacks: They are not coming with the loud, nationally recognized cannon blast of the type launched by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against Senator John Kerry in 2004, but, rather, as more stealthy, narrowly aimed rifle shots from smaller groups armed with incendiary material.

Of course, Team McCain can easily claim it has nothing to do with these low-visibility campaigns, and officially and otherwise, quite truthfully so. But when its own campaign is engaged in wink-and-nudge dog-whistle appeals -- Karen Tumulty noticed such tactics popping up again the other day -- it doesn't exactly discourage the slimier crannies of McCain's support structure, does it?

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