Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ANTI-OBAMA RACISM: THE FACT THAT YOU DON'T SEE IT DOESN'T MEAN IT ISN'T THERE

An odd experience I'm having lately is that even as I'm expressing exasperation at the Clinton campaign -- and feeling that I'm one of the awful "Blogger Boyz" who are being condemned as sexists for it -- I'm getting hits for a post I did last fall denouncing the Hillary nutcracker. I still think the nutcracker is disgusting, and yes, it's appalling how much overt, unabashed, unapologetic sexism is directed at Hillary Clinton.

But I think there's a perception out there that there simply isn't anything comparably racist -- no merchandise, no Photoshop "humor" -- directed against Barack Obama. When my nutcracker post is linked (for example, here), it's often by people who quote a recent denunciation of anti-Clinton sexism that reads in part:

Imagine this scenario:

...Across the country, racists openly ridicule Obama and his candidacy. In mainstream stores there are gag gifts playing on racist themes: maybe a (water)Melon Baller with Obama’s head on the handle, maybe a Barack Obama Shoeshine Set — you get the picture.... T-shirts say “Quit Running for President and Shine My Shoes!” Anybody who protests is branded a fool and a spoilsport....


Do people really think nothing like that is out there? Anywhere? That no one's making jokes like that? Anywhere?

If so, please explain all this:



(Click any image to enlarge. Yes, the shoeshine story references tap-dancing and Cadillacs.)

Obama is being asked to denounce sexism he and his campaign nothing to do with -- some jerk from a radio show holding up an "Iron My Shirt" sign, for instance. What's the limit for that? How obscure does something have to be before Obama no longer has a moral obligation to notice it and denounce it? And what's the Clinton campaign's corresponding responsibility? If something's only at Cafe Press or politicalhumor.about.com, is it part of the cultural landscape or isn't it? Is it worthy of denunciation or not?

(Sources: white women; PhatCow; Curious George; lawn jockey; driving; welfare; gangster; Afro; sculpture; shoeshine; watermelon.)

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