Recently, there’s been a fair amount of news about race. The Trayvon Martin shooting, alleged racist shooters in Oklahoma, various fear-mongering reports of black-on-white beatings in the right wing media. Reading through comment sections in news article, there’s a definite increase in rhetoric from right-wingers about “race wars” and even KKK-style flat-out racism blaming black people for all variety of social ills. The most extreme reactions I’ve seen have been in response to the firing of a National Review author (the article was in a different magazine, not the NR) who wrote an amazingly stupid piece describing “the talk” that he imagines most white parents give to their kids. It basically can be summed up as: be very suspicious of all black people except for a very small percentage of “good ones” that are professional and successful. This would not just be black people from the ghetto, but, as he points out, “Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.” (link to “Dreams of my Father” from original). It also uses the old racist canard of fear-mongering about the LA Riots, which happened 20 years ago.
So everyone recognizes that this article is totally fucking racist, right? I don’t mean you can’t defend it, because there’s something to be said for letting racists air their views in public rather than letting them fester without exposure to public scrutiny. But surely, no one can defend the views stated in the article, right?
Not so fast. While Fox News has wisely avoided mentioning the story, Glenn Beck’s site The Blaze has come to our rescue with a post referring to the controversy, with a space for comments. The result? Almost unanimous strong agreement with the article in question. I read 34 comments before I got to one disagreeing with the points in the article. Comments such as “Yes, we must cow tow (sic) to packs of wild animals who suffer little to no consequences for criminal behavior,” and ” Shame on black people in America! Shame on you! This is your tarnished spot in the annals of history,” were much more representative of the typical comments.
I’d call it scary, if I didn’t know any better. The vast majority of these idiots are elderly new internet users living far from any minorities, who are simply excited about having a place to vent their racist views somewhat anonymously.
But there is a group of people who should be scared – Republican politicians. In my opinion, one of the key moments of the 2008 campaign was when John McCain had to struggle to keep his supporters from going too batshit crazy during a campaign rally. It not only made McCain look like he was not in control of his own campaign, but I believe it also made mainstream Americans a little wary of joining in his support and being like the crazy woman who thinks Obama is an Arab.
A similar kind of thing, inevitably, will happen in 2012. Mitt Romney will be trying to shake off his recent far-right views and appeal to moderates after the primaries. But a large chunk of his supporters will be stupid but proud racist anti-Obama zealots who will believe in all manner of conspiracy theories and will say the first thing that comes to their minds as soon as they have a microphone in front of them. A crowd of Romney supporters with racist signs, racist anti-Obama bumper stickers, racist insults, etc. could very will eat away at Romney’s already thin hopes of winning. It will be a struggle for Romney to make his supporters carry a message about something other than misguided hatefulness and stupidity. It’ll be one of many challenge that Romney will face in trying to win the general election.