I received this excellent letter from Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Whatever you think of Dees, and he is very much a mixed bag as a human being, you have to admit that he has his heart in the anti-racism fight.
And everything he says in this letter is, for what it’s worth, 100% true.
Here is the letter in its entirety. I will explicate the code words afterwards.
Right-wing pundits are jumping all over Attorney General Eric Holder for daring to suggest on Sunday that “racial animus” plays a role in the “level of vehemence” that’s been directed at President Obama. They’re denouncing him for “playing the race card” and “stoking racial divisions.”
Who do they think they’re fooling?
The rhetoric is what’s hateful. Calling people out for it is not.
The racism Holder described has been obvious since the 2008 campaign, when Obama was portrayed as someone who was not a “real American” – a Muslim, a Kenyan, a communist, even a terrorist sympathizer.
Since then, an entire movement has been built around the thoroughly discredited notion that the president’s birth certificate is a fake. And that’s just the beginning.
Newt Gingrich has called Obama the “food stamp president” and referred to his “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.”
Rush Limbaugh has said Obama – and Oprah Winfrey, too, by the way – have reached the pinnacle of their professions only because they’re black. He added this week that “so-called conservative media types” praised Holder’s nomination only because he’s black.
Glenn Beck has said the president, whose mother was white, has a “deep-seated hatred for white people, or white culture.”
Conservative hero and former rock star Ted Nugent, who was invited to campaign with the GOP nominee for Texas governor, called the president a “subhuman mongrel.”
A Confederate flag was waved in front of the White House during last year’s “Million Vet March.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina screamed “You lie!” during the president’s address to Congress in September 2009. When has that happened to a president before?
All manner of overtly racist posters have been seen at Tea Party rallies, including one depicting the president as a “witch doctor.”
We’ve repeatedly seen stories about conservative politicians sharing racist jokes about Obama.
And, we’ve seen an explosive growth of radical-right groups, including armed militias, since Obama was elected, and repeated threats that violence is needed to “take our country back” from the “tyranny” of Obama. This is part of a backlash to the growing diversity in our country, as symbolized by the presence of a black man in the White House.
I grew up in rural Alabama during the Jim Crow years and lived through the civil rights movement, when white supremacists did everything they could, including committing violent atrocities, to turn back the tide of progress. And I’ve stared across the courtroom at some of America’s most vicious hatemongers – men like neo-Nazi Glenn Frazier Cross, who recently killed three people and once targeted me. I know racism when I see it.
No one, of course, is suggesting that merely disagreeing with Obama is evidence of racism. That’s clearly not true.
But we have a political party and a right-wing media machine that pander incessantly to the racist reactionaries in our society, often through code words. It’s been going on since Nixon implemented his “Southern strategy” of appealing to white resentment in the wake of the civil rights movement.
I wish it weren’t so. But it is simply undeniable. We should call it what it is.
It is the Right that has been stoking racial divisions ever since Obama was elected. But this is a nasty meme dating from the Civil Rights era. Those opposed to civil rights accused of Martin Luther King and others of “stirring up racial hostility.” MLK, in his great Letter from a Birmingham Jail, confessed that indeed he was out to stir some shit up. He was right, and it was a good thing he did stir it up. Some folks just need stirring up.
At root it’s an ugly charge though. Anyone fighting for racial justice in America is “stirring up hatred between the races.” How to avoid stirring up racial hatred? Why, simply allow racial injustices to go unchallenged! The argument is breathtaking in its nastiness.
The whole rightwing argument boils down to this – “Obama is a nigger.” I will elaborate below.
Obama is a Muslim, a Kenyan, a Communist, a terrorist sympathizer – Obama is a nigger. He’s not an American. Only Whites are Americans. Niggers aren’t real Americans.
The Communist charge is another ugly one that harkens back to civil rights days. The Jim Crow folks accused all civil rights workers of being Communists. To be for civil rights was to be a Communist. Here we see the resurrection of Bull Connor’s argument from 1960.
Obama is a terrorist sympathizer. You’re either with us or against us. You’re with the terrorists, or you’re with the Americans. Obama sympathizes with the enemy. He’s a traitor. Niggers are the enemy. Niggers are traitors.
The anticolonialists were leftwingers, often non-Whites, who battled against colonialism and fought to decolonize the world. They had a low opinion of White Europeans, as those were the vast majority of the colonists. Many also took up guns against European White colonizers. As an anticolonialist, Obama is a 3rd World non-White who hates White European people, and he wants to fight them with guns to get them off his land.
Kenyans fought against British colonialism. It is amazing that rightwingers think calling someone an anticolonialist is an insult, but apparently US rightwingers think colonialism was fine and dandy.
The food stamp president. Obama is a lazy, good for nothing ghetto nigger living off the tax dollars of White people. Lazy, criminal ghetto niggers refuse to work and instead live off welfare paid by the taxes of hardworking Whites.
Obama and Oprah are affirmative action niggers. All niggers are inferior and incompetent, so Obama and Oprah obviously only got their jobs via affirmative action because no Black can ever compete fairly with a White person.
Obama hates Whites. This is racist projection. Whites hate Black people, but they use the denial and projection defenses to project their racism onto Blacks. Niggers hate Whites. It is very common in racist and White nationalist circles to say that all Blacks hate Whites and want to kill us all. Obama is another dangerous White-hating nigger.
Obama is a subhuman mongrel. Niggers are inferior, and they are not really human beings. Instead they are subhumans, like animals. Obama is a nigger subhuman. White nationalists describe anyone who is mixed race and partly White as a mongrel. As a 1/2 White mulatto, Obama is a mongrel. This is White nationalist code talk.
Waving a Confederate flag in front of the White House. That flag is a symbol of White Supremacy. Waving that flag in front of the White House means niggers have taken over America, and the Whites are coming to take the country back.
Joe Wilson screamed, “You lie!” at Obama in Congress. No President has ever been insulted that way. But no President has ever been a nigger before either. Treating Obama with worse contempt than any other President has ever been treated shows that he deserves particular contempt, worse than any other President has received, because he is the first Nigger President.
Conservative politicians making racist jokes about Obama. That’s pretty ugly. They are telling “nigger jokes” about Obama because he is the first Nigger President. This shows their particular contempt for him.
Racist posters at Tea Party rallies, including one showing Obama as a witch doctor. Obama is not an American. He is an African. A nigger from Africa. Witch doctors come from Africa. Obama is not an American. He is a bongo banging witch doctor nigger from Africa. Back to Africa, Obama!
Armed militias are forming all over the country to “take our country back.” White men are arming themselves to “take the US back” from nigger rule. Obama has instituted nigger rule over US Whites. The only alternative left to Whites is to take up guns, overthrow nigger rule and reinstate white rule.
This is similar to the situation in Reconstruction after the Civil War. The North rearranged Southern politics, threw out most of the racist Whites in power, and instated Black political power over Southern Whites. A lot of the Blacks were incompetent, and this project was not thought through well.
It was so insulting for Southern Whites to have Blacks ruling them though that they began a campaign of armed terrorism against Black rule. For a while, the North sent troops down to the South to try to get a handle on the terrorism. However, it become so widespread that finally the government decided to wash its hands of the mess and pulled its troops back to the north.
The Ku Klux Klan rose in the South. The KKK was the armed movement of Southern Whites who rose to overthrow Black political power and reinstate White rule over the South. Their campaign of terrorism against Blacks was so successful that not only was Black rule overthrown, but most to all of the new rights that Blacks had been granted, including the right to vote, were revoked by the KKK and allied Southern White political power. So began the Jim Crow era, which had roots in the rise of the KKK in the late 1860’s through the 1870’s.
I hate to say it, but all of these White militias arming themselves to take back our country from Obama’s tyranny are simply harkening back to the dark days of the KKK. Like the KKK, these White men are determined to overthrow Black rule over Whites (this is Obama’s tyranny) and take our country back (overthrow nigger rule and reinstate White rule in America).
Like Dees, I wish none of this were true, but after years of this sort of thing staring me in the face, it’s hard to deny it any longer.
This is the ugly face of White America.
Post-racial America, my ass.