Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Friday, January 29, 2010

Racial slurs during Obama's first year: a review

From unknown Bubbas and Clara Belles and from media hacks to elected officials, racial slurs aimed at President Obama have offended every decent person in our country. They hate him, not simply because they disagree with him. They hate him because he's black.

These neanderthals have been carrying their anger around since the 1964 civil rights legislation was passed. Finally God has given them the right to display their posteriors for all the world to see and it's not a pretty view.

These classless and un-Christian imbeciles, these ignorant  hoodlums, have altered images of the president to look like an African witch doctor and his wife to look like a gorilla. Charming. Their comments have been subtle, they have been crude and behind everyone of them is racism, pure and simple.

Presidents have always been fair game for cartoonists and the target of jokes on late night TV  but these images and slurs are anything but funny. They represent hate, and worse, it's based on race and the color of a person's skin.

Today TPM reports:, a Houston-based group founded by Dale Robertson, yesterday sent an email fund-raising solicitation, obtained by TPMmuckraker, headlined "Obama Pimping Obama-Care, One Last Time!

The photograph (to the right) -- showing the president as a stereotypical African-American pimp, sporting a pencil-thin mustache and a zebra-striped, fur-brimmed fedora, complete with a feather -- illustrated the theme.

ABC's Sarah Netter has compiled a review of racism over the past year as it pertains to President Obama.

Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader: Before the election, Reid described Obama as a "light-skinned African American, with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

Rod Blagojevich, former Illinois Governor: "I'm blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.

Mike Parry, Minnesota State Senator: Twittered, "My opinion  is that our president is arrogant and angry. The fact is that he is a black man."

Bill Clinton, Former President: Reportedly told the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Obama, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."

Russ Wiseman: Arlington, Tenn., Mayor: Lashed out at the president on his Facebook page for being a "Muslim president."

Lynn Jenkins, Rep. R-Kan.: "Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope."

De. David McKalip, Fla. neurosurgeon and health care reform opponent: sent out an email containing an image of Obama as an African with doctor.

Glenn Beck: Obama had repeatedly shown that he is a "guy who had a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture." . . . "This guy is, I believe, a racist."

Gary Frago, Atwater, Calif., Councilman: Sent several racist e-mails, including a comparison between Obama and O.J. Simpson and a crack about Michelle Obama posing in National Geographic.

Rusty DePass, S.C. GOP activist: Responding to a Facebook post about an escaped gorilla from the Columbia zoo, he wrote, "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors."

Sherri Goforth, Tenn. State GOP Staffer: Forwarded an e-mail image of presidential portraits with the one of Obama appearing only as a set of white eyes on a black background.

Mike Green, S.C. GOP activist: Tweeted, "I just heard Obama was going to impose a 40% tax on aspirin because it's white and it works."

Rush Limbaugh: Obama was "behaving like an African colonial despot." He also called Obama "an angry black guy." During the campaign, Limbaugh was flamed for playing "Barack, the Magic Negro" to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon" on his show.

Diann Jones, Texas GOP Leader: Forwarded an e-mail to local Republican clubs calling a state-sponsored firearm tax "another terrific idea from the black house and its minions."

Sean Delonas, Cartoonist who depicted two policemen, one with a gun, standing over a dead chimpanzee with the words, "They'll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill."

Buck Burnette, Texas Longhorn Lineman:  Posted on Facebook, "All the hunters gather up, we have a #$%&er in the whitehouse."

Chaffey (Calif) Community Republican Women, Federated: published a newsletter with an image of "Obama Bucks" - food stamps with Obama's head on a donkey surrounded by fried chicken, watermelon and ribs.

David Storck, former Fla. GOP Leader: Forwarded an e-mail written by a volunteer that said, "I see carloads of black Obama supporters coming from the inner city to cast their votes for Obama. This is their chance to get a black president and they seem to care little that he is at minimum, socialist, and probably Marxist in his core beliefs. After all, he is black - no experience or accomplishments - but he is black."

Bobby May, Virginia GOP Leader and former treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party: Wrote a column for the Virginia Voice questioning whether Obama would change the American flag to include the Islamic symbol or devote more aid to Africa so "the Obama family there can skim enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream.

Geoff Davis, U.S. Rep, R-Ky: "That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."

Geraldine Ferraro, former Democratic vice presidential candidate, commented while working for Hillary Clinton's presidential run, "Obama's candidacy wouldn't have been so successful if he weren't black."

SPECIAL NOTE: Huge kudos to ABC News writer Sarah Netter. In an era when research is anathema to most reporters, she deserves a bucket full of praise. As a former news librarian and sometimes writer, I appreciate the time it took to research, compile and write this article. Printed out this is an 11 page article - with a generous amount of white space. Not only does Netter provide dates and background, she also does, or tries to do, a brief followup on each incident - apologies, non-apologies, evasions, excuses, etc..


  1. But they aren't racist... and I don't feel Harry Reid's comment was anymore racist than was Bill Clinton's... in fact I was offended more by Clinton than I ever felt by Reid... But that's just me...

  2. I don't think Reids or Clintons were racial either. Getting someone coffee is a gopher, not a black butler. He meant he was a "youngin'" Reid was describing Obama, not making fun of him. The others, racial.

  3. I'm not accusing either of them of being racist
    but the "remarks," while unfortunate, still had a racist tone to them. Do I think they were racist in intent? No - and I said so at the time. But the bottom line is that they said them. I think the cartoonist got a raw deal as well.

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  5. Leslie,
    IMO it's an intent behind it. Reid made an observation which was true. Clinton's remark sounds racist;it may have been merely ironic.

    How does one judge intent? Maybe it's subjective. Maybe it's thru experience, or empathy.

    Being mistaken for the cleaning guy or having old people say "you people" when giving compliments about working hard are seen by some as racist. IMO it's race-based judgment but without racist intent and in no way offensive.

    Applying for a job one is qualified for and being told by a chuckling interviewer as he stands up shaking his head "You're an Indian? This isn't no affirmative action place you know.An Indian.Damn" is different. There is race-based judgment and it's offensive. I think most people would agree with that.

    But there are things which are not as clear cut. The change in a clerk or salespersons demeanor. People watching you closely in a store or when near their property. You couldn't prove it to a jury, but you KNOW.

    That's the thing with those emails. How do I know they're racist ? Cause I KNOW. It can be explained to someone with an open mind;Someone else might say I was "Playing the Race Card".

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  7. "... Limbaugh was flamed for playing "Barack, the Magic Negro" to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon" on his show."

    Rush has the idea that if you don't actually originally make up the racist joke you are repeating, you aren't really racist.

  8. Reid was stating political and societal fact, so that's how I could prove his remark wasn't racist in intent. Clinton...not so much, he pushed the envelope. I doubt his intent was racist, but there was maybe just a little of that southern brew to it, the kind Oso described.

    On the other hand, Rush definitely is, as are 99% of the teabaggers - particularly the ones I work with. I hate my f'ing job, lol.

    Leslie, thanks for posting this - it needs to be pointed out often.

  9. Leslie I wasn't being critical, just stating my opinion. You surely didn't have to delete Reids and Clintons comments, wasn't it Sarah Netter who added them not you? Put the comments back, it's Sarahs compilation. :-)

  10. dmarks: Rush is quite a "character" isn't he? I think I'd rather listen to Larry Flynt. In fact, I know I would.

  11. Bee: Thanks. I agree with you about Reid and even Clinton who really isn't your typical Bubba from Ark. and I don't really think he ever has been - even in his younger days.

    The funny thing is, I'd been thinking of doing something like this for quite awhile and then I come across this wonderful article by Netter and she's done all the work for me. But she really deserves the credit.

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  13. Oso: I'll give Clinton a break here. I really think he was being tongue-in-cheek. If he did say it, and if he did say it to Kennedy, I think he has enough smarts not to be saying it seriously. How's that for a tongue twister?

  14. Racism is a product of stupidity and fear.

    Sadly, we still have to deal with it in this country, but it is a hell of a lot better than it was in the past. I remember visiting Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago and having lunch at a local restaurant. The place was totally integrated--A.A.s and white waitresses, A.A.s and white patrons all sitting and chatting together at tables.

    I thought about how that would not have been so had I been at that same restaurant in the 1950s.

    We still have work to do, but we've made some important strides.

    q.v. President Barack Hussein Obama.

  15. Shaw: Things have definitely improved since the 50s and even 60s - at least publicly. Privately, it's another story and it really wouldn't take much to tip the scales back. In the smaller towns like Anniston, Columbus, etc., only the "law" protects the A.A.s - the attitudes haven't changed and the talk can get pretty ugly. Racial hatred in the eyes of a bigoted white person is not a pretty sight to see. It's bone chilling.

  16. I've looked at them all closely, taking it at face value that these are correct quotes, the race element is rather clear in them. Except for Russ Wiseman's Muslim quote. Muslim is not a race. In fact, a large proportion of them are Caucasian (Arabs, Turks and ethnically related former Soviet republics, Iranians, Pakistanis) or Southeast Asian (Indonesia.... a racial mixture that does not include Black). That's not to excuse it. There are some other types of bad bigoted views besides just racial ones.

    You could replace it with another, such as this one:

    "...we feel our country is in distress because the n----- got in"

    Granted, it is not from Obama's first year, but is from right after he got elected. I blogged about it here.

  17. dmarks: you have a way of bringing up the rear and then I don't know you're here. Sorry. I linked to your story. That is pretty darn sick but I'm glad you got the scoop.

    This is Wiseman's full quote on FB:

    "Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special' and our muslim president is there, what a load.....try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose. Ask the man if he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he will give you a 10 minute disertation (sic) about it....w...hen the answer should simply be 'yes'.."

  18. I don't think there was any intent on the part of either Reid or Clinton. Clinton, in particular, seemed to me unaware of the implications of his comment; it was simply a poorly chosen remark. Reid was simply describing President Obama, though the part about "Negro dialogue" was stupid and unnecessary. Even so I still don't think they meant anything by it. There has been plenty of the real thing being thrown around without getting our panties in a wad over trivialities.

  19. Scott: I actually agree with you on both counts. I hesitated to include them but they were in the original article and think I was trying to be "fair and balanced."

  20. Leslie, thank you for this well researched post. It puts forth points that need tomade over and over agin until they are heard and understood.

    I hear some confusion about racism in some of the comments. Just because Reid and Clinton may not have intended their observations as put downs doesn't mean that they didn't reflect racism. Judging people based on race is racist. No matter how benign or complimentary the remark, if it focuses on the race of the referenced individual for any other purpose than physical identification as in, "He or she is black or African-American," then it reflects racial bias.

    The bias may be subconscious. Reid no doubt intended his remarks to be complimentary. However, as a black professional woman, I don't feel the "compliment" in Reid's finding Obama a viable candidate because he's not too dark skinned and speaks standard English. That's what Reid essentially said. So if Obama were dark-skinned and spoke with more of a Negro dialect, he would be unacceptable? 'Scuse me, that be racism. Obama is a well-educated person; his speech reflects his education level. Have you ever heard anyone compliment a white Harvard Law graduate by commenting on his nice tan and his command of standard English?

    As for Clinton's remark, it depends on context. If he was referring to Obama's relative youth in comparison to him and Kennedy, I can buy that it was Obama's youthfulness that inspired the comment. However, given the history of subjugation of black people in America, and that during my lifetime (I'm 56) I've had the pleasure of watching the slow rise of the number of black Americans serving in state and federal legislatures, Clinton's remark displ;ayed a high level of insensitivity. The reality is that not so manny years ago all that any black person could have done in the federal government was serve coffee.

    If you really want to deal with racism, stop dismissing it and making excuses. Openly recognize that racism is a sickness that permeates this culture and if we are seriously committed to curing this illness, then we have to analyze it, recognize it, and treat it with the medicine of truth and honesty, often a bitter pill to swallow.

  21. Sheria: As always, thanks so much for your insight and perspective, which I always appreciate because they usually stop me in my tracks. I do think even the most well-meaning white person sometimes make off-hand comments without stopping to think how it sounds to an African American - how it stings/insults/hurts. The person is not necessarily insensitive but the words are. Your last paragraph rings true and I hope resonates with all of us.