As Karoli and Blue Texan have been observing today, the fever swamps of the American Right are, predictably, coming completely unhinged over the re-election of President Obama. This is especially true the farther you move from right-wing pundits out to the conservative base -- where the hatred of Obama is bubbling up a fresh heaping helping of steaming racism.
See, for instance, the gallery of racist tweets put together by Jezebel this week. Go ahead, spend a little time there. Then come on back, get a shower, and let's talk about it.
Megan Garber at the Atlantic reports on the provenance of these tweets:
Floating Sheep, a group of geography academics, took advantage of that fact to turn hatred -- and, just as often, stupidity -- into information. The team searched Twitter for racism-revealing terms that appeared in the context of tweets that mentioned "Obama," "re-elected," or "won." That search resulted in (a shockingly high and surprisingly low) 395 tweets.
The leading states from which these tweets emanate are Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Dakota, and Utah. Now there's a big surprise.
What's shocking and disturbing about these tweets is just how many people out there reflexively and thoughtlessly indulge in outright and outrageous racism -- and then express surprise that they're accused of being racists!
Indeed, the pervasiveness of this response indicates just how degraded Americans' understanding of racism has become -- mainly because, whenever it raises its head now, the right-wing media shouts down and belittles anyone who calls it out. So now there are millions of people out there who think that there's nothing particularly racist about using racist slurs.
For example, there's this young woman from Turlock, CA, who tweeted the following:
As the Modesto Bee story explains, Helms was shocked when the Secret Service came knocking on her door:
She told the Fox 40 reporter: "I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. … The assassination part is kind of harsh. I'm not saying like I would go do that or anything like that, by any means, but if it was to happen, I don't think I'd care one bit."
Helms has since deleted the post and posted again about the incident. It reads: "So apparently my post last night about Obama got onto Twitter and Fox 40 came and interviewed me cause apparently a lot of people in Sacramento think I'm crazy and racist. WOW is all I got to say!! I'm not racist and I'm not crazy. just simply stating my opinion.!!!"
Also unsurprisingly, the ice-cream parlor where the woman worked decided it could not afford to employ her any longer:
But the incident and surrounding outrage caused her to lose her job at Cold Stone Creamery, where she had worked for less than a year. Turlock Cold Stone Creamery store director Chris Kegle said he was shocked to read her racist slur and see her accompanying interview.
"We found her comments to be very disgusting, and they do not reflect our opinions here," Kegle said. "We never saw anything from her at work like those comments."
When he arrived Thursday at the store on Monte Vista Avenue, he said, there were more than 20 angry voice mails about Helms.
"We made the decision because of her comments, but also the community feedback," he said. "We are very into working with the community and doing community service. So when your community does not like you because of an employee, that's bad. We have a business to run."
But the bottom line in this incident was the woman's complete cluelessness:
"OK, but what did I do wrong? That's fine if they want to," she told the reporter. "But I don't understand what I did wrong."
What kind of world do we live in when you have to actually explain to people that (A) wishing aloud for the president's assassination is the same thing as publicly advocating it, and (B) the use of the 'N word' or any other racial slur-- especially by a white person flinging it in a manner intended to degrade not just any singular target but any member of that race -- is an act of racism in itself?
Answer: The world made for us by right-wing media and assorted right-wing pundits, who adamantly insist that racism is a dead letter, that it really doesn't exist, and that their political campaigns don't exploit and foment racist attitudes -- when all the evidence to the contrary stares us daily in the face.