Monday, August 11, 2008

The Race on Race

As I drove to work recently, on my wind-about, back-road route to the office, I noticed that the flag was back. It had disappeared for a while, replaced by another flag whose symbol I couldn't quite make out. This one, however, was clear in it's allegiance.

Shaking my head, I supposed that I wouldn't be seeing an Obama poster in the window any time soon. In fact, I wondered if the fact that Obama had won the Democratic ticket was the impetus for the resurrection of the flag.

A recent Washington Post piece supports this theory -- that Obama's candidacy has been a boon for racist and white supremacist groups, Hate Groups' Newest Target:

Neo-Nazi and white power groups acknowledge that they have little ability to derail Obama's candidacy, so instead some have decided to take advantage of its potential. White-power leaders who once feared Obama's campaign have come to regard it as a recruiting tool. The groups now portray his candidacy as a vehicle to disenfranchise whites and polarize America.

Obama has worked hard to minimize the issue of race in his presidential campaign. When asked about divisiveness and hate, he talks instead about ways in which unity between blacks and whites has inspired him. He chose to "reject and denounce" an endorsement from Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan. Obama quit his church after his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., spoke of racism and oppression in the "United States of white America."

* * * *

The past few months reflect a recent trend of hate group growth, watch organizations said. Fueled primarily by anti-immigration sentiment, white supremacy groups have increased by nearly half since 2000, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. The KKK has diversified regionally and now has about 150 chapters spread through 34 states.

"Our side does better when the public is being pressured, when gas prices are high, when housing is bad, when a black man might be president," said Ron Doggett, who runs a white power group called EURO in Richmond. "People start looking for solutions and changes, and we offer radical changes to what's going on."

Of course, these views noted in the article just reflect those who are vocal about their sentiments, such as the Rebel Flag waving people inside that house that I pass by on my way to and from work. Others have learned to be quiet about their true feelings -- or have not even acknowledged their racist attitudes. They are in denial about their inner racist and espouse other reasons for eschewing Obama as a viable candidate.

Charles Blow has an op-ed piece in the NYTimes that takes this aspect into consideration in looking at Obama's poll numbers, Racism and the Race:

So why is the presidential race a statistical dead heat? The pundits have offered a host of reasons, but one in particular deserves more exploration: racism.

Barack Obama’s candidacy has shed some light on the extremes of racism in America — how much has dissipated (especially among younger people) and how much remains.

* * * *
Welcome to the murky world of modern racism, where most of the open animus has been replaced by a shadowy bias that is difficult to measure. As Obama gently put it in his race speech, today’s racial “resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company.” However, they can be — and possibly will be — expressed in the privacy of the voting booth.
The impact of racism is obviously difficult to calculate -- but estimates are that it ranges from 15% to 30%, see A measure of racism: 15 percent? and 3 in 10 Americans Admit to Race Bias.

As Blow said:
Think racism isn’t a major factor in this election? Think again.
That confederate flag flying in a town on the outskirts of Philly says it all.


quakerdave said...

Doesn't that idiot cheesesteak guy have one tattooed on his arm?

I absolutely believe this is because of Obama. And that just makes me so sad.

Posting on it myself tomorrow.

JudiPhilly said...

Yes, Joey Vento is adorned with the Rebel Flag all over his body and business. I wouldn't be surprised if he not only has a tattoo on his arm, but another body part that also begins with an "a".

I've also been amazed that the flag that I have posted in the above picture has remained flying (as did the last one), since the house is on the edge of a mostly black neighborhood outside of Philly. It bugs me every time I drive by, so I can't imagine what it must do to the neighbors.