David Brooks argues that all the shouting and threatened shooting has nothing to with racism. How could he know? Well, two things:
1. One day recently he saw white tea-baggers buy food from stalls set up by a black group and there wasn’t any visible annimosity.
2. The division between the big government highly educated people and the small government down home folks has been with us since the days of Jefferson.
The first argument has the cogency of the bad argument high on the recommended list of Daily Kos recently; namely, since there were some black people are on the right, the right can’t be racist. (Aren’t you just so relieved that it is this simple?)
The second argument is a little better. But it does not show that there is no racism in the furore going on now. So let’s get a perspective by reminding ourselves that the death threats against Obama are 400 percent higher than those against Bush.
And maybe it would help to draw up a list of stock racism images and tropes? This list will be obvious to many, would that it were all.
1. linking an African American/Black to colonialist fantasies about primitive Africa. The idea that Obama is a witch doctor with a bone through his nose will do as an example, as Jender has pointed out.
2. linking an African American/Black to our evolutionary relatives, the apes. Thus the idea that Michelle Obama has an ape among her near ancestors or linking killing a chimp to killing Obama use a FAMOUS RACIST trope.
And that’s only the beginning. How about this, from “The Scourge Persists” by Bob Herbert:
More than three decades later we have Sherri Goforth, an aide to a Republican state senator in Tennessee sending out a mass e-mail of a cartoon showing dignified portraits of the first 43 presidents, and then representing the 44th — President Obama — as a spook, a cartoonish pair of white eyes against a black background.
We are not going to get anywhere if we cannot even name the problem.