Here Comes the Ugly, Part 2

A moment ago, I noted a report that “Fox News has started airing cuts of Rev. Wright,” and I felt a re-post of this entry, written July 18th, might be useful. This week’s new polls are registering the impact of the “secret video” of Gov. Romney dissing 47 percent of Americans, as well as his intemperate remarks on the Libya incident, so the president will continue to push past the margin of error in battleground states this week, making adherence to the “neck-and-neck horserace” narrative pundits intended to ride to Nov. 6th impossible to maintain. What to do?

In the last 24 hours we’ve already seen “the polls are skewed,”  “why isn’t the president doing photo-ops at the UN?,” and the most amusing “Ryan calls Romney The Stench” meme by Roger Simon, surely snark but being circulated as reportage from Politico (nearly as unbelievable as Simon’s story, of course). One wonders why “Black guy winning hearts, minds, and second term in USA” is not a compelling narrative but, predictably, here comes the ugly. I didn’t want a second helping, but hope this re-post helps your interpretive digestion of the coming 41-day “all you can eat.”

Here Comes the Ugly

On July 17th, the Obama campaign’s steely focus on Mr. Romney’s business record and tax history encountered a cascade of racist attacks, so thinly veiled as to be laughable were they not so ugly. Since Barack Obama took office, many progressives have complained that he does not fight back “hard enough” against the Republicans. Now that he’s turning up the heat, the Romney campaign’s reaction offers some clues to the president’s strategy, and illuminates what he’s up against. Hint: it’s not “conservatism.”

“I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” said Mr. Romney’s surrogate on his campaign’s conference call with the press yesterday morning.

Really?

On the surface, racism seems a clear enough term. I’ve found, though, that it serves to obscure a deeper truth that white supremacy describes more accurately. Unlike the era I grew up in, today it is not acceptable (at least in polite company) to express the belief that white people are superior to black people, or sentiments based on such a belief. And so since Barack Obama began his presidential campaign, won the election, and took office, many Americans continue to criticize him for anything and everything—except his perceived blackness.

I won’t support the resulting litany of terms that mean not white by repeating them here. Suffice it to say that Mr. Romney’s own contribution to the cascade yesterday (the president’s economic policies are “extraordinarily foreign”) adds a particularly refined twist to the frustrated and fearful pretzel that is white supremacy circa 2012.

This is all instructive enough, but here’s what I’m concerned about:

This week, the president’s campaign has steadfastly confronted Mr. Romney with a stream of reasonable questions about his claims of expertise as a business leader, his conflicted descriptions of what he was doing when, and his unwillingness to release his tax returns. Rather than logically defend Romney’s record or champion the benefits of capitalism, or even follow his father’s admirable example of transparency by releasing a dozen years of tax returns, Romney’s campaign first responded with whining (“he should apologize”) then with racist attacks, expressed as xenophobia (“he doesn’t know how America works”).

I submit that this convoluted reaction is because they experience a black man challenging a white man’s authority as an affront to the institution of white supremacy. The real message of all Romney’s clumsy posturing is:

How dare he?

White supremacy in America has its own sordid history. For those who have urged Barack Obama to fight back, the job now is to have his back.

Here comes the ugly.

[9/25/12 Action Note: Today, register to vote or confirm that your registration is current. Check for early voting schedule in your state. Plan to vote on the first day of early vote. Then work like hell for the Democratic ticket, up and all the way down. Take this opportunity to end white supremacy in our country.]

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About meme_ster

Tracking power through language
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