A statement of the blindingly obvious has been made by former Prez Jimmy Carter: that there is a racist element in much of the unpleasantness directed at Barack Obama, and that there are folks in the USA who have a problem with someone in the top job who is not white. Carter reminds his audience that he grew up in the South, which, translated for Brits who might not get that in one, means that he’s seen routine, casual and often vicious racism close up.
Various excuses have been deployed to cover up the underlying motivation: the accusations of communist or even Nazi leanings, the idea that Obama was so left wing that Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton couldn’t stay with the ticket (and even that switching to the GOP, with Sarah Palin on the ticket, was somehow more moderate), and the ridiculous notion that Obama was “taking away” the USA, which therefore had to be reclaimed.
Meanwhile, another veneer of “patriotism” covering over the racist underbelly is being peddled by Glenn Beck at Fox News (fair and balanced my arse), who appears increasingly to be turning into a reincarnation of Joe McCarthy. Beck’s rallying call – in between his attempts to smear Obama nominees as communists – is launching the concept of “9/12”, to get folks feeling allegedly as they did the day after the 11 September attacks, which wouldn’t be frightened and increasingly paranoid. This has been explored by Hadley Freeman in the Guardian.
There have been “9/12” events and even a rally in Washington recently: an attendance of between one and one and a half million was claimed. Unfortunately, the photo backing up the claim has been shown to have come from at least five years earlier, and the actual figure has been put at 70,000.
And what of the Tories and their cheerleaders in the press and blogosphere? There’s not been much said – either on the general anti-Obama shouting, or of the rabble rousing activity of Fox, whose proprietor Young Dave would very much like to have on side come the next General Election. So are they all happy to get into bed with Murdoch the interfering foreigner? No problem with being in the same room as “stars” Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly? Comfortable with pundits such as Ann Coulter, Oliver North and “Wiggy” Bolton?
Don’t all shout at once? You jest. They won’t be shouting at all.