In a recent post (I Just Don't Get It), I wondered out loud why so much of the criticism of President Obama is on the one hand so vicious and hateful and on the other hand seems to make so little sense. My article clearly struck a nerve with many people on both sides of the issue as it generated more than 110 strong comments.
It's sad but expected to see these types of over-the-top distortions during election campaigns--and we did. But once the country has made its choice and a four-year, no-cut contract is given to a new president, it is normal and logical for everyone to come together for at least a while to see how the new guy does.
But we are seeing the exact opposite. Since Obama took office six months ago, the hate, anger, distortions, and demonization has only picked up in volume and intensity--even as he has attacked head-on the numerous disasters and challenges he inherited.
I talked about this in my last article and was still left scratching my head. I just didn't get it.
Then Bill Maher came here to Aspen. He seemed to get it perfectly and gave us his version of the answer. "You know why all these Republicans and Right wingers are calling Obama a socialist, and a Nazi, and a terrorist, and a secret Muslim? Because they can't call him the word they really want to use. Nigger."
That sounded a little harsh to me but his audience--the average age was well above 60--all seemed to be nodding their heads and sending knowing glances back and forth.
The N-word is a little jarring for my taste but it got me thinking--and doing a little research. First I Googled "obama nigger" and came up with half a million links. . That seemed like a lot.
So I went further and checked a few of them out. Not pretty.
But aren't these racists really part of the radical fringe? Certainly most of them are. But all those liberals who were nodding their heads at Bill Maher's comments were saying something as well. As I've said repeatedly, I just don't get it. So let's dig deeper.
Townhall.com is arguably the New York Times of Conservative websites. All of the top Right wing commentators post there. So when I get an email from Townhall offering me 50 percent off on their latest bumper sticker, that's pretty Republican mainstream. And what is that sticker? It is a clever jab stating "Somewhere In Kenya, A Village Is Missing It's Idiot." The promotion goes on to point out that it is a well-known fact that President Obama was born in Kenya--not in Hawaii as his birth certificate says--so not only is he an idiot, he is a Black African idiot.
I then hear about the Missouri state legislator Cynthia Davis--the chair of the House Standing Committee on Families and Children--who has stated her strong opposition to continuing the government meal programs that provide free lunches to poor children through the summer. Ms. Davis points out that the program ignores the value of hunger as a motivational tool and she goes on to point out that giving hungry kids free meals in a group setting undermines family bonding. Her amazing and outrageous position (which she repeated several times during her week of notoriety) received national attention and now is yesterday's news.
But as someone who was born and raised in Missouri, I heard the Republican legislator and mother of seven from O'Fallon loud and clear. In Missouri, when you talk about programs for the poor, you mean handouts to black, neglected children from St. Louis and Kansas City whose irresponsible families are being supported by the good American (white) citizens of the rural counties who have the right values and raise their children properly. You just have to know the code.
And then there are the upscale Republican Women of Anne Arundel County (MD) who came out on their website last week encouraging all their members to wear something patriotic (and comfortable shoes) to the Annapolis Fourth of July parade. That was right above the paragraph in which their president wrote a piece comparing Obama to Hitler. Like Rep. Davis of Missouri, the suburban Washington D.C. ladies were upbraided on national television and eventually removed the attack from their site claiming it was the opinion of one person--not the organization. No apology from the group--but then again they only compared the new president of United States to a genocidal murderer. No big deal.
Yet another example comes from Republican strategist Frank Gaffney who declared after our president's amazing speech to the Muslim world in Cairo that Obama may "still" be a Muslim--our first Black Muslim terrorist president. He cites numerous code phrases used by Obama during his Cairo speech that gave him away. In his Washington Times column Gaffney goes on to say Obama might not be a Muslim but he is certainly like Hitler.
There's that Hitler thing again. Is it only crazy radicals who would make such an outrageous connection? Apparently not. A Google check of "Obama Hitler" yielded almost 7 MILLION links. The "Obama Hitler Similarities" check came up with only 1.6 million. As with "Obama Nigger" it makes for some pretty shocking reading and viewing.
So what's going on here? I have said that I just don't get it and even after Bill Maher's epiphany it is still somewhat confusing. Maybe it's that vicious spurious attacks have become so numbingly common that they're just part of the background noise. But I'm paying more attention to the code of hatespeech and things are becoming a little clearer. And a lot more depressing.