An old friend of mine who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, emailed the other day to say how disheartened she was, as an Obama supporter, by the wave of anti-Obama vitriol she had been hearing on radio call-in shows and in conversations around town since the election. She was particularly disturbed by the racist edge to the ranting--much of it prefaced by the classic phrase, "I'm not a racist, but..." (Along these same lines, I noticed that yesterday Politico had a link to "A depressing rundown of recent racist, anti-Obama vandalism across the country." Sorry. Link no longer operative.)
Obviously, it's upsetting to think that Obama's victory has stoked the uglier, more ignorant impulses in certain pockets of the electorate. But while I'm sure some of the ravers and vandals in question are hard-core racists, my guess is that most are just low-level bigots less riled up about the color black than the color blue.
We all know that this is a politically divided country. Wingnuts on both ends of the ideological spectrum don't just disagree with the opposition, they hate the Political Other with a righteous zeal that would have made Torquemada look tolerant. Having had their asses whooped this time around, a smattering of far-right wingers will latch onto Obama's skin-color as a cheap and easy target for their bile. But, let's face it, many of these folks are the same liberal-bashers that, under a President Hillary Clinton, would have spent the next four to eight years caterwauling about how crazy it was to let a fu@%ing c^n+ be commander-in-chief (unless, of course, the chicky poo in question was Sarah Palin, and then they'd be pleased a punch.) Had John Kerry won in 2004, they would have crucified him as an effete, Frenchified elitist pussy-whipped by his mouthy, megarich wife. Dear god, just look at the frenzy the right whipped itself into over big, lumbering, drawling, Southern Baptist, barbecue-snarfing, good ol' boy Bill Clinton.
Do I think there are an embarrassing number of ass-backward racists in this country? You betcha. But I also believe that much of even the racially tinged invective currently being spewed in the wake of Obama's win isn't about racial animus so much as rabid partisanship. Does that excuse all the crap these people are spewing? No. But it does make me fret less about them.Michelle Cottle