As election day approaches, the campaign-related racism is getting amped up to new levels, both from the McCain campaign and from individuals not officially associated with the campaign. Let’s start with the individual-level racism.
Greg Howard, a Florida middle school teacher and football coach, has been reassigned (but not fired) for his lesson in acronyms. He spelled out the word “CHANGE” (part of the Obama campaign’s tagline) on the board in his classroom, and asked the class if they knew what it stood for. The answer: “Come Help a (N-word) Get Elected.” Apart from the weak pedagogical strategy, Mr. Howard’s lesson was clearly and overtly racist. The fact that he has been reassigned (to adult education) rather than fired speaks to the continued level of tolerance we have as a culture for this sort of racism.
Along with this individual-level racism that’s erupting like an infectious disease, the the McCain campaign is also engaging in a slightly more subtle, though no less racist, strategy. The campaign’s strategy is to let Palin do much of the heavy lifting of peddling their racist message, and she seems eager for the task. In a cogent analysis for AP about Palin’s character attack on Obama in which she questions Obama’s association with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground, Douglass K. Daniel writes:
And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.
Daniel, and lots of other writers, have noted again and again that Obama’s association with Ayers is “exaggerated at best if not outright false.” There is simply “no evidence shows they were ‘pals’ or even close,” yet the innuendo along with the racially tinged subtext – repeated over and over – is apparently what passes for “straight talk” in the McCain campaign these days.