Thursday, July 08, 2010


I know what you're going to say -- that the GOP is always racist -- but whether or not that's true, it certainly seems to be the case that the party and its media toxic-sludge factory go into racism overdrive at certain key moments.

Last year, for instance, there was a moment in late July when Investor's Business Daily and Fox Nation declared health care reform to be "reparations," while Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others unleashed a torrent of racist remarks, culminating in a week in which Beck also mentioned "reparations" and said that President Obama has a "deep-seated hatred for white people," that he "has real issues with race," and that he was "fundamentally transforming" the country to make it "look more like ACORN." (Limbaugh, at one point in late July, claimed that he had a dream in which he "was a slave building a sphinx in a desert that looked like Obama.")

Here's a compilation of some of the worst moments from late July '09:

We seem to be in another one of these waves. A couple of weeks ago, not even pretending to conceal the evident calculation and coordination, senators grilling Elena Kagan invoked Thurgood Marshall 35 times in one day, 21 more times than President Obama was mentioned. A couple of days ago, Rush Limbaugh reacted to attacks on Michael Steele by saying of Barack Obama,

He wouldn't have been voted president if he weren't black. Somebody asked me over the weekend why does somebody earn a lot of money have a lot of money, because she's black. It was Oprah. No, it can't be. Yes, it is. There's a lot of guilt out there, show we're not racists, we'll make this person wealthy and big and famous and so forth....

If Obama weren't black he'd be a tour guide in Honolulu or he'd be teaching Saul Alinsky constitutional law or lecturing on it in Chicago...

And, of course, this is the moment when the right decided to launch a major offensive about alleged Justice Department suppression of a case involving inappropriate but apparently ineffectual behavior at the polls by members of the New Black Panther Party, deploying a GOP apparatchik named J. Christian Adams to multiple wingnut media outlets to gin up interest in a case most people had wisely ignored up to now. The facts don't support the phony outrage:

Bush DOJ, not Obama, made decision not to pursue criminal charges. ... In his May 14 testimony before the Commission on Civil Rights, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez explained that the Bush administration's Justice Department "determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes" ...

In an April 23 hearing on the DOJ's decision in the case, Civil Rights Commissioner Arlan Melendez stated that "no citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting," which "was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did." ...

DOJ did not pursue allegations that Minutemen intimidated Hispanic voters with a gun in 2006. Perez testified that in 2006, the Justice Department "declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation" "when three well-known anti-immigrant advocates affiliated with the Minutemen, one of whom was carrying a gun, allegedly intimidated Latino voters at a polling place by approaching several persons, filming them, and advocating and printing voting materials in Spanish." [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 5/14/10]...

And the Obama Justice Department actually obtained a judgment against one of the members of the group.

So this is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. But, of course, when the right decides that it's time for all of political America to talk about something, that's what we talk about. So we're talking about this now.

Almost exactly a year ago, there seemed to be a belief on the right that it was time to stir up racist anger -- specifically, anti-black anger -- just before the long, hot summer of intimidation at town hall meetings. A similar calculation is clearly behind what's taking place now.

You'd think immigrant-bashing would suffice to get rank-and-file wingnuts' juices flowing, but clearly the divide-America-and-conquer forces on the right disagree. So this is what they're doing with their messaging right now.


UPDATE: Oops, I missed this:

Rush Limbaugh said on his July 2 radio show that he believes Obama tanked the economy on purpose, both as "payback" for 230 years of racial oppression and because Obama simply doesn't like America....

Limbaugh went on to compare Obama to the Black Panthers:

"So in this interview with J. Christian Adams yesterday talking about [how] he and his line attorneys were told to just drop the case against the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation in Philadelphia, he said that there were people in the office, DOJ, who said, 'Well, you know, those people suffered the indignity of slavery, discrimination, segregation and so forth.'

He said somebody else said, 'This is payback,' meaning, 'All right, look. We don't care if it's the New Black Panthers or whoever it is. Black people in this country have never, ever had a fair shake...."

This may let up in a few days or a few weeks, once the folks at GOP Central believe enough base anger has been stoked. Until then, expect a lot more.

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