White Fear and White Voters: A Florida Example

Well, substantial white fear can be seen in many places this week. As Jessie noted yesterday in passing, FoxNews was reporting and now TampaBayOnline (Tampa Bay Tribune newspaper) has this email from a volunteer in the Florida Republicans’ Temple Terrace office that was passed along by David Storck, chair of the Hillsborough County Republican Party, who tells his team to pass it along and thereby signals he agrees with it helping “us to win this election”:

THE THREAT: HERE IN TEMPLE TERRACE, FL OUR REPUBLICAN HQ IS ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR LIBRARY, WHICH IS AN EARLY VOTING SITE. I SEE CARLOADS OF BLACK OBAMA SUPPORTERS COMING FROM THE INNER CITY TO CAST THEIR VOTES FOR OBAMA.

The email was sent around in these very assertive ALL CAPS, indicating a high level of emotion, including fear. Some of it signals the old white racial frame: Scary black folks “coming from the inner city” voting “in carloads,” in what is apparently a whiter area. One can feel the palpable fear here. The email continues:

THIS IS THEIR CHANCE TO GET A BLACK PRESIDENT AND THEY SEEM TO CARE LITTLE THAT HE IS AT MINIMUM, SOCIALIST, AND PROBABLY MARXIST IN HIS CORE BELIEFS. AFTER ALL, HE IS BLACK–NO EXPERIENCE OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS–BUT HE IS BLACK.

Notice again the level of racialized emotion in this message. Today, some conservative Republicans are back to fighting a Cold War against “Marxism,” a theme that is part of the national McCain-Palen attack line. When in difficulty, the U.S. right-wing likes smear tactics that place a political candidate who is obviously a centrist Democrat as “socialist” or “Marxist.” These themes seem to be just some cover for viewing Senator Obama in old antiblack terms, as the harping here on blackness suggests. The email continues in capitals:

I ALSO SEE YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENTS AND THEIR PROFESSORS FROM USF PARKING THEIR CARS WITH THE PROMINENT ‘OBAMA’ BUMPER STICKERS….THE COLLEGE PROFESSORS, PARTICULARLY IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES, FOR THE MOST PART HAVE LITTLE OR NO EXPERIENCE IN THE WORK-A-DAY WORLD. THEIR LIFE EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN MOSTLY ACADEMIC UNDER THE TUTELAGE OF LIBERAL COLLEGE PROFESSORS. FOR THEM, A LITTLE SOCIALISM AND ANTI-AMERICANISM IS A GOOD THING.

Again, the racialized-right types like to brand college students and their professors not only as not really working, but as radical-socialists and anti-American too. Notice too the accent on the sinister social sciences, apparently the most dangerous disciplines, yet likely an assertion for which the writer has no evidence in this particular case.

As someone who taught at the University of Florida for many years, I can say he/she has that notion of radicalism wrong. Most students and many faculty there are middle-of-the-road to conservative. In my 14 years there, I met one truly socialist faculty member, and no students of that persuasion. The writer continues:

YOU AND I UNDERSTAND THE DANGERS THE POTENTIAL OBAMA PRESIDENCY PRESENTS TO OUR WAY OF LIFE. THE SUPPRESSION OF FREE SPEECH, INTRODUCING UNION INTIMIDATION IN THE WORKPLACE, INCREASED DANGERS TO OUR NATION BY TERRORISTS, CUTTING OUR DEFENSE BUDGET BY 25%, TURNING OUR TAX SYSTEM INTO A NATIONAL WELFARE SYSTEM AND ECONOMIC POLICIES THAT COULD DRIVE US INTO A DEPRESSION.

So, once again the writer accents an emotional we/them language of “dangers” and threats from Senator Obama and his (mostly black?) supporters. The dangers include terrorists, unions, and cuts in the defense budget, as well as more “welfare.” More conventional racial framing this. Odd too, here, is the failure of this writer to note that the (almost all white male) finance capitalists on Wall Street are already driving us into a major economic crisis–and possible depression.
And then the call to arms:

THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO STOP OBAMA: VOTE !!!——-
(AND GET EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO VOTE)

The circulated email continues in this vote/vote vein. Get out the (presumably white) vote immediately. The comments after the report at the online site are worth reading, revealing the powerful character and significance of the great racial divide that remains in Florida, and in this country.