This. A Million Times This.

I’m honestly continually befuddled at the Right’s inability to form a coherent, damaging line of attack against Obama. I mean, I’d like to dismiss it as pure racism, but there are pure racist stereotypes of both thuggish brutes (who want to fuck your white women) AND of suave, cool hepcats (who your white women want to fuck)–the parenthetical asides being obviously left unsaid.

Josh Marshall says:

If you’re going to come tar President Obama I think you need to work with cerebral, out of touch, big government liberalism overreach. Not that I agree with these things but they’re rooted in things that are true, they’re the worst takes on real aspects of who Obama is. But the ‘Chicago-style’ break your legs stuff? Please. This plays with the not-racist right and Republicans who, as I said, live in a cult of victimization and paranoia. But President Obama’s most telling trait is the effort to conciliate and convince opponents, not to threaten them. Believe me, a lot of his top supporters wish he was more bullying.

My co-worker actually asked me yesterday why Obama doesn’t go ahead and go all Bullworth on their asses. So, I think Marshall is right, that even people who feel anxious about Obama–unless they’re a subset of Republicans–don’t feel anxious about him because he’s a thug. Accusations of him being a thug just don’t ring true to people who aren’t afraid to almost paranoid levels of him.

And yet, obviously, if you’re just trying to play on non-black people’s subconscious racist fears about black men, like I said, there is a stereotype to plug into and one that actually has some resonance with who Obama is. I really find it befuddling that they don’t use it.

It’s as if the Republican party isn’t just trading in racist tropes, it’s that, in their singular commitment to a specific version of the past, they’ve missed all the ways the rest of us white folks have been othering black people.

Or let me put it another way–all they have is “Birth of a Nation.” They missed all the white people playing Scott Joplin tunes on their pianos who would never let him in the front door of their homes.

2 thoughts on “This. A Million Times This.

  1. Interesting, B. I don’t see it as all that complex. It’s difficult for the right wing to attack Obama for co-opting the lion’s share of their practical policy mojo. Kowtowing to the super-wealthy? Check. Ever-expanding militarism? Check. High incarceration of nonviolent poor and brown folks? Check. Increasing deportations of undocumented migrants? Check. Vindictive persecution of public dissent from official policy (and whistleblowing)? Check.

    As long as Obama is doing what they’d applaud from a white Republican, they’ll have to pull criticisms from their asses, and most of those will pertain to their fear and loathing of Negroes in high places.

  2. Yeah, but that’s what I find baffling. They could loathe him for being too cool and haughty and unemotional, disconnected, even. That would vaguely resemble him. I find their commitment to this racist trope confusing. I mean, why don’t they disparage traits he actually exhibits instead of pretending like he’s some violent dictator who’s on the verge of having them beaten in the streets.

    It’s weird. Maybe it’s like a reverse revenge fantasy–if black people get into power, they must want to do to us what we do to them. Fear that our bad behavior is coming back on us!!!!! In that case, they can only acknowledge their brutishness by accusing someone else of having it?

    I don’t know. That’s not quite satisfying, because, like you point out, he’s very much like them. There’s a lot they could legitimately accuse him of while not acknowledging it in themselves and it would be true. So, it’s strange.

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