Finally, and belatedly, the mainstream media and websites, in this case Roger Simon at politico.com, have begun to analyze some white-racist-attitudes issues basic to the Republican party campaign and strategy from the beginning:
I was talking the other day to a prominent Republican who asked me what I thought John McCain’s strongest issues would be in the general election. Lower taxes and the argument he will be better able to protect America from its enemies, I said. . . . The Republican shook his head. “You’re missing the most important one,” he said. “Race. McCain runs against Barack Obama and the race vote is worth maybe 15 percent to McCain.”
He then asks what percentage of white Americans are shown in polls to have trouble voting for a black person:
An AP-Yahoo poll conducted April 2-14 found that “about 8 percent of whites would be uncomfortable voting for a black for president.”. . . I was amazed that 8 percent of respondents were willing to admit this to a pollster. And I figure that the true figure is much higher. The same poll, by the way, found that 15 percent of voters think Obama is a Muslim. He is, in fact, a Christian. But thinking a person is a Muslim probably does not encourage you to vote for him in America today.
Notice too the link to the stereotyped Muslim story I dealt with some time back. He then quotes from a Post article by Kevin Merida and Jose Antonio Vargas in Scranton, Pa.:
“Barack Obama’s campaign opened a downtown office here on March 15, just in time for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was not a glorious day for Team Obama. Some of the green signs the campaign had trucked in by the thousands were burned during the parade, and campaign volunteers — white volunteers — were greeted with racial slurs.”
And now we have the North Carolina Republican Party about to run skewed anti-Obama ads saying because of Dr. Wright he is “too extreme” for North Carolina, even as Senator John McCain asked them not to do so.
Recall the numerous research studies I have cited before that show that the apparent decrease in whites antiblack prejudices and stereotypes in opinion surveys from the 1930s to the present day is very misleading and probably reflects to a significant degree an increased white concern for social acceptability, especially in public frontstage places, including phone calls with pollsters (strangers). Today, it is less socially acceptable for whites to publicly avow strong old-fashioned racist attitudes in diverse public spaces, so many whites may reserve most of their blatantly racist comments for the private spheres of home, locker room, and bar—usually with friends and relatives. This does not mean, however, that these old racist views and the white racial frame of which they are part have died out or have no effect on much white thought and action in more diverse public places.
I repeat too what is necessary to reduce racism in our public affairs, including elections: Among others things, we need to actively teach whites (and others) how to “out” backstage racist ideas and performances, those which generate discrimination frontstage. Whites (and others) can counter racist performances by using humor (“Did you learn that joke from the Klan?”), feigning ignorance (“Can you please explain that comment?”), and assertively reframing (to justice, fair play, stewardship, responsibility). Teaching to disrupt racist performances is one key, as is creating support groups for such interveners in everyday racist actions.
These social science research studies strongly suggest that all Americans concerned with significant racial change must get out and intervene in racist performances. They, and we, must work actively for that change. Such change will not likely come from rather short political campaigns, but only from years of hard action disrupting racist performances — and from hard organizing for racial change, as in the 1930s-1960s civil rights movement.