The Racist Backlash To Obama's Presidency

[From Creative Loafing.] As we predicted before the election, Barack Obama's victory has loosed a flood of hatefulness from the racist right in A

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[From Creative Loafing.]

As we predicted before the election, Barack Obama's victory has loosed a flood of hatefulness from the racist right in America. Digby yesterday had a detailed post laying out some of the cases that have erupted so far. From an AP report:

Threats against a new president historically spike right after an election, but from Maine to Idaho law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before. The Secret Service would not comment or provide the number of cases they are investigating. But since the Nov. 4 election, law enforcement officials have seen more potentially threatening writings, Internet postings and other activity directed at Obama than has been seen with any past president-elect, said officials aware of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue of a president's security is so sensitive.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

In rural Georgia, a group of high-schoolers gets a visit from the Secret Service after posting "inappropriate" comments about President-elect Barack Obama on the Web. In Raleigh, N.C., four college students admit to spraying race-tinged graffiti in a pedestrian tunnel after the election. On Nov. 6, a cross burns on the lawn of a biracial couple in Apolacon Township, Pa.

The election of America's first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections. Moreover, the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters' comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Mr. Obama's election to be a potent recruiting tool – one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.

I talked to the SPLC's Mark Potok this morning, and here are his observations:

I think there's something remarkable happening out there. I think we really are beginning to see a white backlash that may grow fairly large. The situation's worrying.

Not only do we have continuing nonwhite immigration, not only is the economy in the tank and very likely to get worse, but we have a black man in the White House. That is driving a kind of rage in a certain sector of the white population that is very, very worrying to me.

We are seeing literally hundreds of incidents around the country -- from cross-burnings to death threats to effigies hanging to confrontations in schoolyards, and it's quite remarkable.

I think that there are political leaders out there who are saying incredibly irresponsible things that could have the effect of undamming a real flood of hate. That includes media figures. On immigration, they have been some of the worst.

There's a lot going on, and it's very likely to lead to scapegoating. And in the end, scapegoating leaves corpses in the street.

According to that AP piece, neo-Nazi Web entities like Stormfront have seen a serious spike in business:

One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day, according to an AP count. The site, stormfront.org, was temporarily off-line Nov. 5 because of the overwhelming amount of activity it received after Election Day. On Saturday, one Stormfront poster, identified as Dalderian Germanicus, of North Las Vegas, said, "I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how 'messiahs' come to rest. God has abandoned us, this country is doomed."

That theme comes popping up a lot:

Grant Griffin, a 46-year-old Georgia native who is white, expressed similar sentiments. "I believe our nation is ruined and has been for several decades, and the election of Obama is merely the culmination of the change," Griffin said.

Last week Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass created a bit of a stir by relaying the story of a Chicago teen who decided to try an experiment in tolerance by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "McCain Girl" to her high school, where Barack Obama was widely favored as a hometown hero. She got something of an ugly reception -- mostly she was told she was stupid, while some fellow students went so far as to tell her she should die.

While it's not terribly surprising -- passions often run high during political campaigns, and people say and do stupid things in the process, on both sides of the aisle -- it should go without saying that this kind of ugliness does not reflect well on the supposed liberals venting it. If nothing else, it makes them look decidedly illiberal in their intolerance.

However, the flip side -- the violence-laced, vile hatred emanating from Obama haters around the country -- is already dwarfing this intolerance. Yet you have to wonder if Kass and the right-wing pundits who made the teen's story a cause celebre will even bother taking a look.

About David Neiwert

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