Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Chauncey DeVega says: Obama is Called a Nigger at a Sarah Palin Rally or Why I Prefer My Racism Straight With No Chaser
It seems that Barack Obama was finally called a "nigger" at a recent Republican presidential rally.
I am not surprised. Nor, am I particularly upset. I have succumbed to election fatigue and there is little which can possibly occur at this point in the campaign to either shock or amaze me.
The Republican Party is responsible for this moment. I link this to the party, and not singularly to either Sarah Palin or John McCain because they collectively must bear responsibility for this uncivil behavior. And again, I do not say "shocking" because it was wholly predictable and expected given the tempest unleashed by McCain-Palin and the Right wing echo chamber. True, the landmark event which is a Black man being on the verge of the presidency was bound to unleash the fear and anxiety at the heart of America's racial subconscious. However, McCain, Palin, and the other puppet masters in the GOP have fanned and encouraged it.
McCain and Palin have trafficked in modern racism--what smart folks who study these things call "symbolic racism." It is a racism without racists. It is a white supremacy conducted through institutions and structures. It is the soft-bigotry of low expectations. It is benign neglect.
Symbolic racism is deft in how it massages language. Consider, Obama is called "unqualified." He is called "strange." Barack cavorts with "terrorists." He is more interested in being a "celebrity" than in being a real leader. Obama wants to be "the one." Ultimately, he "isn't prepared to lead." Do not be mistaken. This isn't a call for sensitivity and kid gloves in politics. As long time readers well know, I believe in playing to win--and I don't boohoo cheap shots or low blows. Rather, it is a call for honesty. To turn a phrase, Palin-McCain should simply call a spade a spade.
The tragedy of this situation is that McCain has sacrificed his personal integrity and (mostly) honorable legacy as a public servant for what, even if he wins, may be a Phyrric victory: he has sold his soul to the devil, the Christian Nationalists, the Neo-Cons, and rabid, frothing at the mouth anti-Abortionists, in total, groups which represent the fringe elements of the Republican Party (and who are now at its center). Sadly, as Colin Powell bravely pointed out, McCain has catered to the worst parts of the American creed. Ironically, Sarah Palin has lost nothing. Because of her utter lack of introspection, Palin remains bullet proof, Teflon coated, and seemingly immune to any challenge or criticism as she positions herself as a rising star for the 2012 elections. It seems that fate is not without a sense of humor.
Together, McCain and Palin are whoremasters of a particularly dirty type of racial politics, a politics, that at its core, is the remnant of a type of deep seeded, white supremacy. Neither, and I believe this to be especially true of John McCain, would hang the noose, but together they share a deep yearning for a White world. However, I must admit that I am much less sure of Palin in this regard, as she seems the type to not even pee on a negro if he or she were on fire.
During this campaign there have been moments of verbal slippage when politeness has yielded to honesty. For example, when Obama was publicly branded as "uppity." Ironically, in this one instance the media spoke truth to power--certainly not in the way Brother Cornel West would have imagined-- in how it gave voice to the not so well hidden subtexts of McCain and Palin's attacks on the Democratic nominee.
You see, this is why I prefer my racism straight with no chaser. You see, this is why I prefer honest racists.
If we decode symbolic racism, with its matrix of codes, shadows, and smoke screens, the real essence of Palin and McCain's attacks are readily clear.
When McCain and Palin call Obama unqualified they are really saying "he does not know his place," and in the coded appeals of symbolic racism, Obama has taken "your" job. When McCain and Palin call Obama "arrogant" and "the One," they are saying that he is not sufficiently deferent. When McCain and Palin say that Obama will make America unsafe, they are saying that he, THAT black man, is himself the source of danger. And moreover, how can THAT black man protect your White interests? When McCain and Palin say Obama is inexperienced they are really saying that he is an "affirmative action hire." When McCain and Palin say that Obama associates with terrorists and that he doesn't really love America, they are really saying that he, THAT black man, is not a "real" American citizen. By definition, Obama, because he is a Black man, cannot be a patriot.
You see, this is why I prefer my racism straight with no chaser. You see, this is why I prefer honest racists. You see, this is why I wish that Palin and McCain would simply say what they really feel:
In fact, I suggest that it would be far more refreshing, honest, and effective if McCain and Palin would simply go all in and feature the corrupt, partying, lazy black senators of Birth of a Nation (see minute 4:36) as the centerpieces of their campaign ads. This approach would be far more efficient than their present approach because it would save Palin and McCain from the distraction of having to operate through allusion and innuendo.
You see, I can deal with honest racists. In fact, I have a grudging respect for them. I deplore their wickedness and posturing. I abhor their resistance to wisdom. I detest how they give life to the worst parts of our humanity. But at least I can respect their honesty.
Plus, we respectable negroes know quite well how to deal with honest racists:
You see, this is why I prefer my racism straight with no chaser. You see, this is why I prefer honest racists. You see, this is why I wish that Palin and McCain would simply say what they really feel.
And how do you, fellow respectable negroes and our white allies, feel in this moment?