Lipstick and Lynch Mobs

… Is my take on the ungodly mess that the McCain campaign is right now. I don’t really write about U.S. politics for GlobalComment anymore, but this evil BS in the form of “kill him!” (in reference to Obama) and “sit down, boy!” (in reference to a black press member) and how it has gone absolutely unchallenged by the train-wreck candidates got me so worked up that I was up at 5 a.m. punching this stuff out. I didn’t even need a cup of coffee, which pretty much means that this was a superhero act on my part, and that I will just sit around and wait for my own franchise to grow up around me.

My absentee ballot could not have come at a better time.

Screw this KKK crap.

22 thoughts on “Lipstick and Lynch Mobs

  1. You mostly had me until the last paragraph. That’s a huge hyperbolic brush you’re painting with. I understand you were angry and building the piece to an image you had in your head, but using such a bigoted image takes away from the essay… one person screaming “nigger” from a crowd does not make the crowd wrong, even if they ignore it and just try to get on with their day. And it certainly doesn’t mean whitey is getting the urge to cut eye holes in white sheets. Should a racist slur be condemned? Absolutely. But the American Right stirring up distrust and anger by screaming Barack Hussein Osama thirty times is just the same as the American Left stirring up paranoia and anger by constantly accusing their opponents of having a “hidden agenda, which is actually now a staple in Canadian politics. Which you’d know if you ever wrote about us. Just saying.

  2. I’ve been to Canada once, so I am definitely not qualified in that department.

    As for the image – it is what it is. I don’t think there is any hidden agenda – but I do believe that we, as a human race, tend to let go of our own assholery rather unwillingly.

  3. When you hear thinly (or non) veiled racist slurs from GOP members and supporters on a regular basis and the rest of the party excuses them, it ceases to be a “hidden agenda”. When the party goes out of its way in its rhetoric and advertising to paint Obama as some scary Black Muslim, I don’t see anything wrong with calling it what it is. The Republican Party of today is a racist institution, no matter how many times they can trot out Larry Elder, Clarence Thomas, or a few rabidly anti-abortion minority Catholics and Evangelicals who decided that issue trumps being considered human. They have the market cornered on race-baiting; the best demos can do is Al Sharpton, who virtually every Democrat considers irrelevant and enjoys no popular support and, oh yeah, doesn’t belong to the race that runs everything of importance in America. Even the KKK today calls itself “the friend of the black man” and has actually hired PR people to give them a warmer, fuzzier image. So should I just say “well, calling the KKK racist terrorists would be unconstructive, and comparing them to Nazis is certainly uncalled for?” Sure, some people have lightly thrown around terms like racist, fascist, etc, and that sucks. But the moral of the story of the boy who cried wolf is that the wolf eventually showed up. If you can’t confront racism and incitement to hatred, because you want to be considered polite and reasonable, then you may as well just give them the keys.

    I’m not trying to be a dick here, but I get tired of people drawing equivalencies that simply aren’t there. The left in America (to the extent that there is one) is simply not comparable to the right at this moment in time. Calling out racists is not the same as race baiting.

    And Nat, did I tell you how much I love your Mike Tyson facial tattoo? A lot, that’s how much. In fact, I wish Obama was taking a page from Tyson’s playbook. Just imagine it;

    “”I was gonna rip his heart out. I’m the best ever. I’m the most brutal and vicious, the most ruthless champion there has ever been. No one can stop me. McCain is a conqueror? No! He’s no Alexander! I’m Alexander! I’m the best ever. I’m Andrew Jackson. I’m FDR. There’s never been anyone like me. I’m from their cloth. There is no one who can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want his heart! I want to eat his children! Praise be to Allah!” “

  4. First of all, Gabriel, let’s not compare apples and bowling balls here. The occasional whackjob screaming about “Bush is Hitler!!!” usually represents only himself. The whackjobs shouting “KILL HIM!!!” and “TERRORIST!!!” at McCain/Palin rallies represent an entire group of people who really do believe that Barack Hussein Obama, reality to the contrary, just so happens to be an evil radical Muslim socialist radical feminist Bilderburger who attended madrassa schools along with Ahmedinejad and bin Laden in his youth, then rolled with Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright during their Weathermen years bombing innocent White Americans and plotting to take away their guns…all on the way to playing “White” hatred all the way to the Presidency. And I don’t see any liberals or leftists in any way playing to the “Bush is Hitler” crowd…though considering the massacres in Fallujah and Basra, the mantra of total war everywhere around the globe, and the antics of Abu Ghraib (not to mention parts of the Middle East), some folks in Iraq and the Arab world might be more than a bit sensitive to that analogy.

    And we see politicians like McCain and (especially) Palin openly play to, exploit, and even egg on such extremism for political favor….especially since it’s really the only thing they have left to use, since they are losing the intellectual and political battles in so many other fronts of the campaign.

    “Hidden agenda”, Gabriel?? Hardly hidden to me….sounds like the same old naked racism and bigotry rubbed raw and exposed for all to see.

    Hopefully, all this shit will be flushed down the sewers in the Obama landslide come November 4.

    Anthony

  5. “The occasional whackjob screaming about “Bush is Hitler!!!” usually represents only himself.”

    “And I don’t see any liberals or leftists in any way playing to the “Bush is Hitler” crowd…”

    Truthout.org; January 09, 2004: “So far, I’ve seen nothing to eliminate the possibility that Bush is on the same course as Hitler. And I’ve seen far too many analogies to dismiss the possibility.”

    huffingtonpost.com; Larisa Alexandrovna; Sept. 20, 2008: “In 2000, the long fought for and long admired democracy of the United States of America began a slow and steady decline toward fascism – a Bush family tradition…. That [fascist] coup is now nearly complete and checkmate is all but unavoidable.

    “The Bush family… were Wall Street men who openly supported fascism…. It seems this time around, the Bush family is trying the more subtle approach to open bloodshed…”

    In her story about the “manufactured” need for a credit bailout the “tradition” the fascism Larisa is referring to is this: “George Bush’s grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.” (Guardian online).

    She is not referencing the Iraq War, and not to any war since 1946.

    Again, neither side has a monopoly on paranoid delusions. Both sides have played, and continue to play, to the baser instincts of their fringe. It may be race on one side, but the other side has the “hidden agenda” card which is a wink-wink catchall for everything from 9/11 conspiracies to what’s really behind the Security Prosperity Partnership to concentration camps being built in America ready for the upcoming Republican fascist putsch when the election is out of their reach.

  6. HuffPo is not the equivalent of a political rally.

    I have yet to see any leftist boldly yell “kill him!” in reference to Bush or McCain.

    Like I said, I don’t think there is a specific hidden agenda or conspiracy here here – like Anthony said, it’s all out in the open – it’s people correctly identifying the instinctual impulse to stomp and annihilate a person who’s “not supposed to be in power” – i.e. Obama, because he’s black, because his name isn’t John Smith, etc. This is how many people still think, I am sorry to say. This impulse has been identified and cynically used by the McCain/Palin campaign to disastrous ends.

    McCain has been booed for trying to cool off his supporters. I think this situation is now officially out of control. With the Palin ethics report being what it is, McCain’s more, um, “unstable” supporters may get even more desperate.

    And that’s the point when I seriously start fearing for Obama’s safety.

  7. P.S. The tattoo is in reference to my Duke days – when I painted myself blue at basketball games a couple of times. Most of the time though, I just watched from my dorm. 😀

  8. “I have yet to see any leftist boldly yell “kill him!” in reference to Bush or McCain.”

    It has been going on for most of the past eight years with regards to GWB.

    “…it’s people correctly identifying the instinctual impulse to stomp and annihilate a person who’s “not supposed to be in power”…”

    Much like burning GWB in effigy or carrying signs showing GWB being beheaded or in Nazi regalia.

    I’m not referring to racism when I say “hidden agenda”. People have never had a problem pointing out racism in their opponents supporters. The “hidden agenda” tactic is being used exactly in the way I describe it. It is a code used by “the left” to signify the intentions of “the right” to take away all civil liberties, burn books, ban all abortions, expose Santa as a fraud and make little non-Evangelical girls and boys wear purple stars on their clothes.

    Just as the “hidden agenda” tactic was used for years by “the right” to keep “the left” from straying too far into socialism, both sides — both sides — are using the same tactics here.

    Both sides/campaigns have made a conscious decision over the past four years that the best way to maintain their core 40% of the vote is to create an institutionalized range of feelings from disrespect to hatred of the other side, then do their best to convince the majority of the remaining 20% the other side is worse for doing it.

    And that has meant eight months of “the right” screaming “Hussein Osama” and “the left” tying McCain to GWB… “who, by the way, is only weeks away from staging a fascist putsch and has already built the concentration camps in Ohio.” (Google it… you’ll be put on a list somewhere, but I’m sure you’re already on it anyway.)

  9. …maybe I should clarify: the “hidden agenda” being used by “the right” since they knew Barack would be their opponent has been religion, not race. The Hussein Osama stuff, and the photo of Barack in the traditional African headdress were about religion, not race and directed, cynically, at the “base”.

  10. It’s not my business to write about any “hidden agenda,” since I don’t believe in it (which is why I don’t write about it, and I’m not sure what anyone else who writes about it has to do with me). I do believe in what’s between the lines, and what is plainly out in the open, and this is what I wrote about in my column.

    It has been going on for most of the past eight years with regards to GWB.

    Where? When? Any examples of this in the current presidential race?

    Anyway, you have every right to object to the image I used in my column, but I do not believe it is bigoted, just as I do not believe that Obama’s campaign is morally equivalent to the McCain campaign.

    I understand your frustration with the left – there’s a reason why I don’t call myself a leftist, for example – but I think the facts speak by themselves on this one.

  11. RE: Gabriel’s comment dated October 11 at 1:44 p.m., especially the remark, “… the ‘hidden agenda’ being used by ‘the right’ … has been religion, not race.”

    In the U.S., the fundamental social/political division is between Caucasians and people of color. That’s why Islamophobia in the U.S. is nearly always a cover for white racism. In the U.S., especially during the current election campaign, white racists will try to attack some secondary characteristic (in white racists’ minds) of people of color in order to reaffirm white supremacy.

    That’s why the GOP attacks on Obama’s supposed Muslim heritage are actually coded language for an attack on his race. Another code-word is the assertion that Obama is not “normal,” as when
    GOP columnist Peggy Noonan states that McCain and Palin are “normal” (Noonan’s word) but Obama is “odd” (again Noonan’s word). One could go down the list of code-words used by GOP operatives to trigger white racial anxiety, but I’ll leave it at that.

    As to the racial slurs and violent threats shouted by members of the audience at McCain rallies: I speculate whether those particular audience members with their shouts were planted by the McCain staff in order to set up McCain to respond with a bogus, scripted ‘rebuttal’ or ‘reprimand’ of racial slurs and the like. But I do note that a few commenters at the blog “Fetch Me My Axe,” in the thread to Belledame’s post about racism in McCain rallies, have argued against ‘scripted’ racism in the rallies, and their comments can be read at that blog.

    But I myself still suspect that such ‘racist’ rally participants were deliberately planted by the McCain staff with scripted racial slurs, etc., in order to suggest to the white television audience that white racial anxiety is an acceptable reason to vote for the GOP, since otherwise participants at these rallies could have been sternly ordered before each rally not to shout racial slurs or violent threats, with the warning that those who made such shouts would be immediately removed. Keep in mind that, at a McCain rally, an anti-GOP heckler probably would be removed very quickly to prevent the heckler from gaining too much exposure on TV. So the McCain campaign probably also has the ability to deter audience outbursts of racism and threats of violence. So I think the McCain staff not only permit racist outbursts by participants but actually arrange such outbursts.

  12. OK, Gabriel..are you implying that the stories about Prescott Bush being a fervent supporter of Nazi Germany are false?? If so, then please provide proof.

    Secondly…I’d hardly use personal statements on personal blogs as any proof of a vast left-wing conspiracy to rate the Bush family as the equivalent of Hitler….any more than I’d use the statements of David Duke to say that he speaks for all White people.

    And on your point about all the “Barack Hussein Obama = Radical Muslim” smack being only about religion: Yeah, right….I guess that Obama being a dark-skinned fellow has not a thing to do with him being bashed as “anti-American”. Especially since he has openly and directly repudiated fundamentalist Islam (last time I checked, he was still a Christian). I wonder if such a charge would have been thrown at Hillary Clinton if she had become the nominee??

    Natalia may have her issues with the Left (and she has her right to her opinion), but I AM a Leftist (and one who won’t be voting for Obama anyway because I consider him too conservative for my taste; Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party will be my candidate), and if you are going to slander us merely because you don’t like our ideology, at least have the decency to offer better proof for your acusations.

    Anthony

  13. Responding now to Poeschl:

    I wouldn’t put it against the McCain/Palin people or their GOP handlers to plant ringers in the crowds to incite them…but I’m more to believe that those raw emotions actually do reflect the base emotions and fears of those attending those rallies. I just saw a YouTube video of someone interviewing some folk who attended a Palin rally in Ohio…and the fact that they are so willing to swallow up the nonsense whipped up about Obama’s “radical background” says a lot about their basic attitudes.

    Also note the fact that yesterday, when McCain did make an attempt to back away from the more virulent racist comments (“Obama’s an ARAB!!!!”) and actually defend Obama as a person and a rival, he was booed nearly completely off the stage. This leads me to believe that the hatred is more bottom-driven and intrenched in the “base” that Palin and McCain are trying to inflame. They should have never tapped into it in the first place, but now that they have, it’s now raging out of their control and may ultimately consume them.

    And what’s to say that Palin especially, with her history of right-wing extremism, might be deliberately playing into their raw emotions just to set herself up as their savior in 2010 or even 2012??

    Anthony

  14. RE: A. Kennerson comment dated October 11 at 6:27 p.m., especially the remarks, “… those raw emotions actually do reflect the base emotions and fears of those attending the rallies,” and “the hatred is more bottom-drive and intrenched in the ‘base’ …”

    Entirely true, on both points.

    As I said in my initial comments, I am led to suspect that these racist outbursts might be scripted because, at least as I understand it, GOP rallies tend to be tightly controlled. After the initial occurrence of racist outbursts (in full view of the television audience), the McCain staff could have taken stern measures to prevent any further outbursts.

    The fact that the McCain staff apparently have not taken measures to prevent further outbursts leads me to suspect that the GOP is deliberately planting ringers — even though the effect may now be leading the crowd to get out of control — because I find it hard to believe that, after the initial outburst had occurred, the McCain staff would simply passively allow a rally to slip out of their control in full view of the television audience. It’s not impossible, but I would think that, while Americans are watching on TV, the GOP would want to keep a GOP rally under tight control, and not permit unplanned racist outbursts more than once. That’s why I still think that the outbursts themselves are scripted, even though such outbursts do reflect the actual feelings of the entire audience.

    But as your comment notes, McCain/Palin are indeed tapping into the racism of their white audiences, and whether or not the outbursts themselves are scripted, these rallies may be starting to get out of control, and unless McCain gets the crowds back under control, his campaign itself might be reduced to a traveling KKK rally. If that happens, McCain/Palin have only themselves to blame.

  15. “…are you implying that the stories about Prescott Bush being a fervent supporter of Nazi Germany are false?”

    Nope, just that those stories are being used by ‘segments’ of “the left” as proof of GWB’s plans to leave a fascist state to his best buddy Mr. McCain.

    How about this: NPR Headline: Naomi Wolf Likens Bush to Hitler “In her new book, The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot, social critic Naomi Wolf argues that many of the Bush administration’s actions have paralleled [sic] those of notorious dictators.”

    I haven’t slandered anyone or anything. Both sides in this election are using fear and disinformation and hatred to push their agendas. When “the left” compares McCain to Bush it not only to his policy it is also with the implications of Prescott and Fascism and all those Ohio internment camps. Just like when elements of “the right” email photos of Mr. Obama to their Evangelical mailing lists it isn’t about race it’s about pushing the idea of a Muslim in the White House.

    When “the left” says “McCain is Bush” there is not only the implication that all of the Bush policies will be drawn out over at least another four years but also that McCain is and will be a war criminal, a Hitler and a fascist.

    When that older woman stood up at the McCain rally and said she wouldn’t vote for Mr. Obama because “he’s an Arab” that’s the byproduct of the Change happening in American today. There are chunks of the US who are scared of this Change, and that includes chunks of Democrats. They are frightened because of what their fathers and mothers taught them about race, because of the general and pervasive racism that has never been dealt with, and because of the last seven years of anti-Islamic propaganda coming from both parties in both Houses of Congress and the Presidency. Of course these people are reacting this way, but that doesn’t mean they want to go back to anything resembling the last paragraph in Natalia’s essay.

  16. The main reason why McCain is being tied to Bush is because of the war. Prescott Bush has very little to do with it. Most people I know on the left don’t even read HuffPo on a regular basis (I don’t either).

    Once again: McCain campaign & Obama campaign – NOT morally equivalent. At all.

  17. “Nope, just that those stories are being used by ’segments’ of “the left” as proof of GWB’s plans to leave a fascist state to his best buddy Mr. McCain.”

    I have not heard anyone make this argument. It’s long and convoluted and, frankly, unnecessary. The main thrust of McCain= Bush arguments is that the last eight years have been disastrous and McCain promises to repeat them. You’re using a yard to explain an inch.

    ‘How about this: NPR Headline: Naomi Wolf Likens Bush to Hitler “In her new book, The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot, social critic Naomi Wolf argues that many of the Bush administration’s actions have paralleled [sic] those of notorious dictators.”’

    Oh my god, how impolite of her! And since she works for Obama…..Oh, wait, she doesn’t.

    “I haven’t slandered anyone or anything. Both sides in this election are using fear and disinformation and hatred to push their agendas.”

    Obama is saying that if an approach that has failed is continued, it’s likely to continue to fail. The McCain campaign is trying to paint Obama as a crypto-Muslim terrorist out to destroy America and enslave white people. You seem like a smart guy, so I have to conclude you’re being willfully obtuse if you consider these anything close to equivalent.

    “it isn’t about race”

    It would be a first then.

    “taught them about race, because of the general and pervasive racism that has never been dealt with”

    I agree with you that this is in fact present. One problem is that people use its existence to delegitimize confrontation of open racism.

    As I said, I don’t think you’re stupid or arguing in bad faith, but I do think you’re so far off the mark it’s a little disturbing. What do you think things like the Klan, National Socialism, etc, are exactly? Just historical anomalies that won’t happen now? The last McCain rallies have looked like something from Nuremberg 70 years ago, and this is not hyperbole. A mild disclaimer from McCain doesn’t change that. Is McCain Hitler? No, but he’s certainly willing to tap into the same social forces that Hitler did and the results could be just as alarming over time if its not dealt with now.

  18. RE: Gabriel’s comments on this thread about:
    (1) Equivalency between the Left’s attacks on Bush/McCain/Palin and the Right’s attacks on Obama, and
    (2) Gabriel’s final remark that McCain supporters don’t “want to go back to anything resembling the last paragraph in Natalia’s essay [i.e., the KKK].”

    In response to (1):
    There is NO equivalency between left-wing and right-wing disinformation efforts in the 2008 because:

    Left-wing disinformation plays on what Bush has actually DONE as President of the United States, not on who Bush IS. If Bush had not carried out certain policies, no one would have burned him in effigy and no one would have called him Hitler. Bush’s political privilege as a WASP and the political record of the Bush family of Connecticut and Texas would not have been held against GWB, had GWB not carried out his disastrous, anticonstitutional policies. In other words, the Left are not playing identity politics when they attack Bush.

    On the other hand, right-wing disinformation is based overwhelmingly on who Obama allegedly IS (according to right-wingers), and much less on what Obama has allegedly DONE. In other words, the Right are indeed playing identity politics when they attack Obama. In the U.S. in 2008, identity politics center around the political divide between Caucasians and people of color (especially in the minds of Caucasians). For the Right to play identity politics to their mostly-Caucasian audiences means first pandering to, and now inflaming, white racial anxiety. It’s the one remaining trump card the GOP still has.

    Note another difference between left-wing and right-wing disinformation:

    Left-wing disinfo is based on what Bush has ACTUALLY done.

    Right-wing disinfo is based on who Obama ALLEGEDLY is.

    By now, even Republicans admit what Bush has actually done, and Obama supporters can disprove the lies about who Obama allegedly is.

    That’s why Obama will win the election. The case against Bush and the GOP is based on universally-admitted facts. The case against Obama is based on lies that are easily disproven. So McCain/Palin don’t stand a chance, unless Caucasian voters cave in to their own basest instincts.

    In response to (2):
    At this point, McCain’s remaining supporters do indeed want to go back to the culture of the KKK. McCain’s supporters, or least many of them, may be repelled by the criminality and overt race-baiting of the KKK, but their votes are motivated primarily by their fear of treating people of color and also women as political equals. That’s the culture of the KKK.

    That’s also why I think the fear of “socialism” now voiced by certain McCain supporters is coded language for white racial anxiety, since, as it stands, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are flat-out socialist redistributive programs that working-class McCain supporters would not seriously consider abolishing. Similarly, the earmarks enacted by the GOP-controlled Congress between 2002 and 2006 have in fact been transfer payments on a scale that would be called socialist, had these earmarks not been explicitly directed toward GOP constituents rather than to those deemed truly in need throughout the entire country regardless of party affiliation. So the U.S. already has had a partly-socialist government and economy since the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s. That’s why I think McCain supporters’ supposed fear of “socialism” is coded language for bigotry. McCain supporters don’t fear what we already have, and we already have socialism. McCain supporters do fear what we don’t yet have, and we don’t yet have a black man as President of the United States.

    That deeply-entrenched fear of a black President is also why I think Obama as candidate and as President seriously risks being assassinated. I lived for 15 years in Forsyth County, Georgia, which is known for its racism, and I learned that there are people in Forsyth County and elsewhere in north Georgia who would find it quite normal to kill a black man rather than be governed by him as President.

    Fortunately, both the FBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation have long infiltrated the hate groups who might be motivated to carry out an assassination attempt, and I assume the U.S. Secret Service is also active in protecting Obama. But assassination is still a serious risk.

  19. Oh please, get over yourselves. You’re reacting as though I’ve left a thousand word essay which I’m somehow bound to defend word for word. I’ve left two points on here, nothing more:

    1. both sides in the American electoral system have used paranoia, hatred and distrust (re: the other sides “hidden agenda”) as essential campaigning tools;

    2. the end to Natalia’s essay was overly harsh towards the vast majority of voters.

    Both points were perfectly and patiently taken care of by the host of this blog, who also managed to not call into question my sanity.

    But give someone a opportunity to break out the thousand-word boilerplate and I guess they’ll feel obliged to take it.

    I have to go not lose any sleep over any of this.

  20. Well, Gabriel, I can’t speak for Anthony, for example (and Anthony, please forgive me if I’m stepping over a boundary here), but he’s coming from a place where racism is part of daily reality in a way that it isn’t for white people. I think he sees the things we don’t see on a regular basis, because our white skin protects us from some truly horrendous shit.

    It’s true about the South too. I’ve spent most of my life in the South. I HATE the stereotypes about it, I HATE how a Southern accent is presumed to be a sign of lower intelligence, I hate the self-congratulatory smugness directed at this part of the country.

    But having said that, I do agree with Poeschl – there are still good numbers of people here for whom the idea of a black president is unthinkable. And the way their fears are being stoked into sheer white-hot hatred makes me genuinely afraid of where this country may be headed.

    This subject is very emotional, and difficult, for me, especially as a long-time resident of the South. And I think it’s emotional and difficult for everyone else here as well, and everyone who has commented here is someone whom I consider a friend. Perhaps it’s time to step back.

    I’m closing the comments here, but if you guys want to talk in the comments section to the original piece, you are welcome to it. Just please let’s keep this one calm. For my sake.

    I’m sorry I’m being a delicate wilting flower about all of this, but I’m just way too stressed right now, and so busy dealing with trolls over on GC that any kind of flame-war, even a comparatively mild one, is making me twitch uncomfortably.

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