ITN: A Few Thousand Bad Apples Make The Whole Bunch Look Bad

Categories: InTheNews, Politics
Comments: 4 Comments
Published on: 2012.11.13

In The News: Flurry Of Racist Tweets Follow Obama Election
In The News: Woman Loses Job Over Facebook Post

Unfortunately, Republicans and white people in general are getting a bad rap this election year, based on the fiery words of a small minority. Apparently, the re-election of Barack Obama spurred quite a few folks — spread throughout the country — to post remarks on the internet using the N-word or other racist epithets aimed at Obama.

The woman mentioned in the second article above isn’t an extreme example of these posts; it’s fairly representative. “Another 4 years of this [N-word]. Maybe he will get assassinated this term”, she wrote. She added later: “I’m not racist, and I’m not crazy. just simply stating my opinion.!!!” (source).

Someone should tell her that “I’m not racist” is a pretty stupid thing to say right after calling President Obama what she called him. That’s like robbing a bank at gunpoint and rushing outside with armloads of cash and shouting “I’m not a thief!”

“I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal”, she said after learning that the Secret Service was investigating the assassination suggestion.

Such a large number of these Facebook posts and Tweets appeared in the days after the election that a few groups tried to track them and made a map. It’s not a very scientific study, based on the parameters mentioned in the story, but it probably didn’t surprise anyone that the greatest percentage of such remarks came from Southern states. (Also not surprising is that Twitter isn’t often used in Montana or Wyoming.)

Several of the online messages referred to “the South” and how it should “rise again”.

A petition on the White House’s official website asking for permission for Texas to withdraw from the union gained more than 50,000 signatures in three days.

All of this combined sent shivers through the collective spines of liberals in the media who always suspected that every white Republican was a racist.

Unfortunately, this is a case of guilty by association. Since there’s really no way to gauge actual racism among a group of people, I’m just guessing. Having known many white Republicans during my lifetime, most of them in or near the South (Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, etc.), I can say that the percentage of racists was actually very small, perhaps one in 10. (This is called anecdotal evidence, and is not related to actual evidence.)

Also unfortunately, it’s an association that will stick for a while, because it’s a hard one to shake. And it matters, because the conservatives will lose votes over it. With neither party having enough members to win most big elections, it’s almost always the middle/moderate/independent crowd that decides who wins. And that crowd isn’t voting for who they perceive to be racist.

It doesn’t help when a week before the election, a prominent white Republican said his party was “full of racists” and went on to add:

“And the real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander in chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin. And that’s despicable.”

It’s easy to jump on quotes or trends like this and say with a surprised expression: “I thought we were past all that by now”. But common sense says we won’t be past it until those with such feelings start dying off.

In the meantime, if they’re not actually willing to reexamine and change their own beliefs, these racists could practice the common sense activity of keeping their hatred to themselves (out of the public view on the internet, for example), attempt to not pass them on to their children, and generally pretend they’re good people. I’m sure the rest of the white Republicans will appreciate it.

4 Comments
  1. Richard says:

    It will take millennia for bigotry to die, because its roots are based in a primitive tribe-against-tribe survival strategy.

  2. Wil C. Fry says:

    Bigotry, of course, is slightly different from racism, and yes… it may outlast the human race as we know it.

    Racism, as a particular form of bigotry, seems to be something that’s passed on from one generation to the next as taught behavior rather than ingrained in our DNA.

  3. shari says:

    I, like you, have known very few racists, so my inclination is to believe there aren’t that many (at least as far as American White people). However… Yesterday while in Little Rock, Ced commented that he’s glad he’s not Black, because it seems like a lot of people don’t like Black people. I’m not sure what he’s seen to give that impression (other than, perhaps, our visits to Central High School National Park). We try to stress that there is more to a person than their skin color and that color is not any reason to like or dislike a person, while admitting that there are people who don’t agree with that assessment.

    Also, thanks for linking to the actual petition. I tried to find it yesterday; read several articles about it but non linked to it; browsed the White House website but didn’t find it. The world is becoming Curiouser and curiouser.

  4. Wil C. Fry says:

    Shari:

    I too was surprised at the number of stories that mentioned the petition without linking to it. You’re welcome. :-)

    I’m sure children see things that we don’t see, in other people’s behavior and in our own. In Little Rock, there’s no telling what he saw while you were paying attention to something else.

    While living in an all-black neighborhood of North Little Rock for more than two years (I guess it wasn’t “all black” if I was living there, but no one else was white), I saw and heard so many things that I never would have seen and heard if I’d been somewhere else.

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