Racist Attacks on the Obama Children: New Lows for the Racist Right? (UPDATED)


Just when you think the racist right has reached its low point, some hyper-racist folks there show they can go yet lower. For some time now, they have sunk to attacking the Obama children for their clothes, looks, and actions. This seems to be yet another, often racist, way of attacking President Obama. Have they no shame, as Senator Joe McCarthy was once asked.malia_obama

Lately, Malia Obama has gotten much attention for the peace symbol she wore in Italy while her father was at the G8 summit. Also for the way she looked, her natural hair style, and the Black rapper walking nearby. This photo was put up at the New York Post, the conservative free-republic website, and numerous other sites. It has generated much racist commentary below news stories, which reveal the extent of racist thinking still commonplace in white America.

The New York Post described Malia Obama’s appearance thus:

President Obama’s eldest daughter brought Woodstock chic to Rome yesterday as she toured the Eternal City wearing a T-shirt that bore the peace emblem of the ban-the-bomb movement.

Revealing an age difference perhaps, the older newspaper reporter is doing a bit of mocking here. The peace symbol is worn by millions of US kids who know nothing of the earlier Woodstock and peace movements. Then someone placed this racist commentary below their news story:

Looking at that picture is like seeing ghetto-fabulous failures win the lottery and going nuts – driving Escalades and buying disgustingly garish-looking homes. This is pathetic. We grab a worthless social worker off the street because he speaks well with a teleprompter and toss him into a job with 230 years of history and class. Anyone else see the problem with this? All the presidents before this idiot knew the enormity and responsibility of the office. This retard goes out and buys DVD’s for other heads of state. This ain’t one of your neighborhood block parties “homey. “

Much of the negative commentary on Malia Obama obviously seems to be using her as a way to make hostile, often racist commentaries on her father. This last comment is not only racist and highly stereotyped but rather ignorant about U.S. history. For example, the U.S. presidency has had a few “losers” and numerous problematical characters of dubious virtue, beginning with the numerous slaveholders who served as U.S. president from Washington to Grant (both slaveholders themselves). Rather clearly, President Obama towers over many of our past presidents in “class.”

CatM over at Dailykos counted something like 100 racist and gendered racist comments like these after the free republic posted the photo of Malia Obama, but only one of the comments dissented from this highly negative thread:

“We’re being represented by a family of ghetto trash.”
“Looks like a bunch of ghetto thugs. A stain on America.”
“Looks like a typical street whore.”
“What we now are sending the ghetto over to represent us. and if so who the hell is that flea bag who looks to be dragged from the trash dumpster.”
“you could go down any ghetto right now and see exactly the same.”
“could you imagine what world leaders must be thinking seeing this kind of street trash and that we paid for this kind of street ghetto trash to go over there”
“the world must be laughing like mad right now at that we have this kind of street trash in our white house.”
“Wonder when she will have her first abortion.”
“sad isn’t it that we now have ghetto street trash over there representing us in Europe.”
“This disgusting display makes me more and more eager for the revolution.
“They make me sick…. The whole family… mammy, pappy, the free loadin’ mammy-in-law, the misguided chillin’, and especially ‘lil cuz… This is not the America I want representin’ my peeps.”

Other sites have more mixed commentary, some of it quite positive about Malia Obama’s dress, look, and actions. There does seem to be an obsession even then about the way the Obama’s dress. What is it with this obsession with their “fashion”? I do not remember the Bushes getting so much fashion focus? By the way, our own Adia has explored the gendered racism that black women commonly face in her fine new book, Doing Business with Beauty. Check it out.

Apparently protests about these many racist, gendered-racist, and sexist comments got the thread pulled at the free republic site. The free republic had some postings by the infamous Von Brunn who attacked the Holocaust Museum. Something about the Internet allows this explosion of racist thinking from the most extreme forms of the old white racial frame, views once heard mostly by a few street corner extremists or in backstage settings of white friends and relatives. One wonders now just how widespread this commentary is now in the ordinary backstage settings across the country, especially given all the racist incidents we have discussed on this site over the last few years. It may be increasing there and in new organizations, thanks to the echo chamber effects of the Internet. These are issues Jessie has raised in her find new book on cyberracism.

UPDATE:

On Saturday Malia and Sasha Obama, with their parents, visited a major slave castle Cape Coast, Ghana, which was the headquarters for the British slave trade on Africa’s Gold Coast. MSNBC reports it thus:

Inside the whitewashed fortress, the first family got a tour of the oven-like brick dungeons where slaves were crammed as they awaited their fate. The Obamas walked through the “Door of No Return” — the gateway through which thousands passed to ships bound for America — and paused in contemplation, arms around each others backs.

Afterward, the president called the castle “a place of profound sadness.” He told reporters it put him in mind of Buchenwald, the German concentration camp he saw last month — evidence of “the capacity of human beings for great evil.” Yet he also found it inspiring, and hoped Malia and Sasha would grasp its import. “It is here where the journey of much of the African-American experience began,” he said.

One can only imagine what impact this trip to the slave castle had on these black children. It was likely traumatic. It certainly was for their father.

I wonder if the conservative websites will probe that issue of impact and of Anglo-American slavery as deeply as they did Malia’s shirt and hair?

Comments

  1. Thanks for your take on this, Joe. I saw a cached version of the notorious Freeper thread after it’d been pulled, but now that’s not showing up anymore. Surely it’s preserved somewhere.

    When I read your first line (Just when you think the racist right has reached its low point . . . ), I thought, “‘The racist right’? Isn’t the right in general racist?”

    Maybe that’s unfair, but then, “the racist right” registers for me as the far-right, openly white-supremacist right. Free Republic is pretty hardcore rightwing, but when it comes to race, it’s more centrist than that openly, proudly racist far-right (after all, they did pull the notorious thread). And yet, a large percentage of its members clearly harbor, or at least condone, racist sentiments and beliefs.

    I don’t mean to quibble over semantics. I’m really just wondering if it is indeed fair to just say that “the right is racist” (given not only the backstage beliefs and behavior of many of its members, but also its de facto racist policies), instead of cordoning off and labeling a sector of the right as “the racist right.”

  2. Joe

    Macon D, yes, I had in mind the part of the right that is very openly racist in talk and commentary, etc. Seems to be growing in boldness, perhaps because of the Internet?

    The right-wing is not all blatantly and openly racist, including much of groups like the free republic crowd. But what is disturbing is the scale of the racist commentary, and only one dissent, on Malia Obama’s shirt and being at the free republic thread for a while (until they pulled it) and some other sites, even more politically “mainstream” sites.

    See CatM’s commenatries at http://www.dailykos.com.

  3. Nquest

    Macon feels that Free Republic is “more centrist” on race… GTFOoH!!!
    .
    (That classification doesn’t even make sense with calling FR “pretty hardcore rightwing” and then arguing that “the right is racist” vs. “cordoning off and labeling” only a sector of the right as “the racist right.”)

  4. Nquest

    Joe, I think you’re on-to-something regarding the Internet-as-echo-chamber. Seems to me, the Internets provide relative safe havens from whatever social pressures that mitigate against racist expression. One thing I always found funny, though, is the degree to which being socially ostracized still plays a role in how people behave on-line seeking approval/friendship/respect of other people in given on-line communities. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
    .
    Likewise, I’ve always found the phenomenon where conservative Whites see themselves as socially oppressed/limited by “political correctness” (oh, the horror!!) interesting as well. No doubt, places like Free Republic eases those fears/anxiety.

  5. I think it should be said that the Huffington Post and other left-ish sites also have an unhealthy obsession with the dress and style of the Obama women. HuffPo has a new post almost daily on what Michelle Obama happened to wear that day. Sure, it’s without the vitriol of these posts and comments, but still…there’s something problematic with incessantly objectifying these women. And, unfortunately, it’s coming from all angles.

  6. Joe

    Nquest, good point. The Internet operates in part as a giant white backstage for a growing number of whites, where they call tell racist jokes, share racist views, reinforce extreme versions of the white racial frame. They behave like only whites can see and access this stuff, like they are performing just for other whites. See for example, the website “niggermania,” its comments and divisions. Then Put in the N-word into a major search engine and see the 4.7 million sites! you get,; is is amazing how widespread this racist stuff is now. And people act off of it, like the attack on the Holocaust Museum was likely affected by the Internet echo chamber in which the attacker engage. There seems to be a growing “white industry” using N-word thinking and terminology to bond and network certain whites. See also Jessie’s new Cyber Racism book. There are even websites now in languages like Russian that focus on racist jokes like N-word jokes…..Hundreds focus on attacking black people now, and others attack other people of color.

  7. momoffour

    This was taken from CatM who took it from Kos poster Hollywood Oz, aka Chris Parry writer of the article at the Vancouver Sun.

    CatM was the “writer” who contacted Freerepublic under the auspices that she was a writer researching.

    Which was not true.

    The source for this article will not print the “screen names” of these posts so that they “posters” can be researched.

    Interesting.

  8. siss

    Joe: They quote you posted from the NYP – did you find that offensive or where you just giving us their description of her? Maybe I’m confused, but I think she looks very chic and age-appropriate and the NYP’s statement conveyed that?

    I agree with Jeremy that the objectification of the Obama women is unnecessary and demoralizing. It taints other AA women and girls’ view of them. Finally they have some representation (classy and great role models, might I add) and now they are under scrutiny NOT for their behaviors, but their appearance. This comes from jealously because the Obama women are beautiful and WELL dressed.

  9. Nquest Says:
    .
    Macon feels that Free Republic is “more centrist” on race… GTFOoH!!!
    .
    (That classification doesn’t even make sense with calling FR “pretty hardcore rightwing” and then arguing that “the right is racist” vs. “cordoning off and labeling” only a sector of the right as “the racist right.”)

    .
    Right, the classification of FR as simply “more centrist” doesn’t make sense, but it’s also an incomplete summary of what I wrote.
    .
    I wrote that “when it comes to race, [FR is] more centrist than [the] openly, proudly racist far-right (after all, they did pull the notorious thread). And yet, a large percentage of its members clearly harbor, or at least condone, racist sentiments and beliefs.”
    .
    One can be “more centrist,” and yet still racist, but also less racist, or at least less openly so, than more overtly, proudly “white supremacist/white nationalist” others. Again, FR pulled that thread (albeit under pressure), while WN sites seem to consist of nothing but threads like that one. Surely that difference exemplifies how FR is “more centrist than WN sites.”
    .
    What I was basically wondering is just what Joe’s term”the racist right” means, and how we can effectively and accurately use it.

  10. Dabb

    geeeez louise!!! It’s a peace sign on a shirt. It’s all the rage with the tweens. My own 11 and 12 year old granddaughters wear them. And sometimes when they wear them, their hair is curly.

    So if my granddaughters are white, then it’s ok?

    All this crap is beyond ridiculous!

  11. adia

    I’m surprised to see so few comments in this vein, but I have to say I’m very disgusted and saddened to see such vitriol directed at children. Malia Obama is what, 11? 12? Does ANY child deserve to be discussed, criticized, and labeled in the manner of the comments on free republic? The type of language used reminds me of a point Ann Arnett Ferguson makes in her brilliant book “Bad Boys: Public Schools and the Making of Black Masculinity.” In this ethnographic study of a public school, Ferguson argues that black boys are affected by a presumption of adulthood–whereas white boys are seen as children and granted an assumption of innocence (if they mess up, people think, boys will be boys, and see it as cute, natural, and age-appropriate mischief), black boys are automatically “adult-ified.” When they mess up, they are seen as criminals in training, ascribed evil motivations, and thus punished very harshly. Many recent cases where black boys were tried as adults seem to support Ferguson’s thesis. I bring this up because it seems to parallel what’s happening to Malia Obama. She isn’t seen as a child, given the presumption of innocence, and viewed as someone who should be protected. No, she’s black and therefore cruelly described as a “ghetto hood rat.”

    Somewhat unrelated, but I just reread the comments and they reminded me of a thought I had watching the Sonia Sotomayor hearings earlier today. If you are a person of color in society today, one of the dominant messages you hear is that you should go to school, study, work hard, follow the rules, and if you do all these things then you can achieve whatever you want. Seems that even if you follow this creed, guess what happens if you dare to try to break barriers? All your hard work suddenly ceases to matter to those who refer to you as “worthless street trash,” or more kindly, “not smart enough” for the Supreme Court. It disgusts me to see yet again that doing all the right things only has a limited payoff if you (and your children!) can still be labeled “ghetto street trash” at the end of the day.

  12. in all fairness

    it’s completely tasteless for the Presidents daughter to be wearing a peace sign, especially considering the numerous conflicts we are involved with around the world. And also especially since her father was at the G8 summit, and there is nothing peaceful about raping our planet.

  13. siss

    @ in all fariness – SHES A CHILD. She has NO control over what her father does, engages in or has inherited. Quite honestly, I dont think it had a hidden meaning, like everyone is making it out to be. You should be ashamed scolding her about a personal choice. It is tasteF-U-L and a cute outfit…but beyond that, why are we even having this discussion? Its a logo tee. Thats it. Shes not exposing herself, dancing on tables, or getting arrested. Lets not even mention what other first daughters have done over the years. BACK OFF.

  14. Shari

    My 15 year old daughter has a shirt exactly like that except it is blue. She also has a Native American “Homeland Security” Tshirt and a Jena Tshirt and all manner of other social statement shirts. Where is the praise for this teen who has a social conscience for peace.

    Gosh, In All Fairness, when would be a more appropriate time to wear a Peace tshirt than when there are so many examples of war…

    Obviously they have no shame with these commentaries. But then remember what they did to poor Chelsea Clinton so we already knew that.

    So much for the “no child left behind” rhetoric.

  15. Sonya7

    To NQUEST:
    I pulled this statement you wrote from the Jack and Jill Politics website: “Me, I just happen to have INTELLECT and know bs when I hear/see it and I know too many Black folks let their personal pain and sentiments, like Obama’s over his absent father, about things that go on in the Black community cloud their judgment and choke off their INTELLECT.”
    I’m a black woman in grad school, and I LOVE that you said this. Black Activism is Not about Emotion. It’s about tearing down the White Framework that has eclipsed the chrysalis carboniumism, if you will, of the last 400 years in America’s infrastructural oscillation that has sub-fractured the sub-conscious cerebral visibility element.
    If we allow subcutaneous survival mechanisms to influence our visceral exploitive magnitudes..how can we make any progress in black Ne0-Socratic style democracies? Please Comment.

  16. Sonya7

    To NQUEST: You also wrote on this thread this past April: “Obama’s presidency has done little to push Blacks to the forefront of the country’s consciousness, Obama and his family notwithstanding.”
    I agree again. Obama’s not the kind of black component we need to fractionalize the crematoria-like Nazi-esque charade this country’s been propagating {involuntarily mind you!}
    Hitler used many of the tactics the white back-wash canistment professes Not to use. If this Doestoyevski-ish mis-handling of True back-water politics continues..we won’t have a country..agreed?
    Not that I’m disagreeing with Jefferson’s theories on Mercurial Political Management. I think they’re valid for today’s political arena. Well..mostly valid. Hard to make generalizations about almost anything.

  17. Sonya7

    To NQUEST:
    I do need to add that “cordoning off and labeling” is an antiquated term {at least the way in which it’s used in your contextual arena}. We are all familiar with Lloyds “Population Management Strategies in a Racist Ethnocentric Sedimentic”. I’m sure you’ve read it.
    The sediment I am referring to is Plenty of Fertilizer {lol} for extrapolating on Gilman’s “Life in the Urban White Matrix”. I’m sure you’ve read this too.
    Speaking of matrix, how about that that thread regarding Leonides’ theories applied to White Flight. Isn’t he a bit “too adamant” about the rationale for capitulation to the schematics of correctionalism. I mean, to quote the Bard, “I think the Lady Protesteth Too Much”. LOL. Right?
    I find it entertaining also, how in the visual/non tactile world of the net too..there are hierachies within a thread. Some people try to practice non-interactive invasive strategies and others endeavor to practice clandestine {though equally virulent} mimics, if you will, of Socratic “surround and conquer” approaches to Mass Persuasion.
    I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this!

  18. “the gut-chuckles”!

    Thanks Nquest, that’s a wonderful description. In fact, I think it’s inspired me into having a fit of them right now.

    Okay, back to the regularly scheduled “’surround and conquer’ approaches to Mass Persuasion.”

  19. Sonya7

    Oh now please. please!
    NQUEST was the one who stated: “Me, I just happen to have INTELLECT.” I guess I assumed you read the works I mentioned. I suppose my definition of an intellectual takes in a little more territory than yours. My apologies.
    By the way, when people are uncomfortable or feel threatened in a situation because of their lack of knowledge of what’s being referenced…they laugh. They don’t know what else to do and it derails the issues. You can look up the study in “Harlon and Kepleman”: Laughter as a Means to Relieve Tension. It’s in the book: Issues in Social Psychology, Random House, 1999.
    Not that I’m suggesting you feel threatened. Is it because I’m a woman? Again I know NQUEST is male, macon d I don’t know..if you’re a guy..is my gender influencing your laughter? Why shouldn’t a woman be well-read?
    The fact that I’m black should not be a factor here..although I mention it only to let you know I can resonate with the “Rapacious Conflict” that Thomas Paine wrote regarding the oppressed.
    Laugh all you want..I’ll just keep reading.
    I thought if you respected anything on this thread it was knowledge gleaned from reading material. But..that’s fine.
    NQuest refered to me as an “unknown” person. You mean you “know” macon d? How? Through this thread?
    Actually, internet “friendships” are based solely on impressions any given person allows you to experience. It’s a fallacy to believe you “know” anyone you’ve had discussions with on the net. You know very little about them. But if this is the Harvard Club and I just walked in during Cocktail Hour..I think I’ll take a seat. “Vodka Rocks please.” I feel so-o–o-o-o comfy!

  20. Nquest

    LOL… I didn’t even see Sonya7’s first two posts. And, no, I don’t “know” or remember Sonya7 from JackandJillPolitics or any other blog/board on the web.
    .
    Sonya said: “You also wrote on this thread this past April”
    .
    I don’t know what you’re calling a “thread” but the links and stating your purpose, beside flattery, would be helpful. Otherwise….
    .
    Next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Sonya7

    Actually I looked you up on the net..just typed in “NQUEST” and pulled up some of your statements from the JackandJillPolitics. Then I went to the back pages of this site and found other comments you made. Nuf Said? I think you’re neat. Wanna have lunch sometime?

  22. LaquitaG

    I’m a young black woman. Always feel I should mention that since my perspective Is different than other ethnic groups.
    Personally I think the Obama girls are precious! And..WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WRONG WITH WEARING A PEACE SYMBOL? If any other ethnic group criticizes this..well..be real people..don’t you think her race is influencing your criticism? If one of the Bush girls wore a peace symbol, you’be murmering,”Oh! That’s cute!”
    The Obama girls receive excellent grades in school, have conducted themselves Like Total Ladies in public, dress Beautifully thanks to Michelle’s sense of fashion. Personally I think the Obama ladies (all of them) are the classiest thing to hit DC in a Long time. It sure makes me proud to have them represent black women. What more do you want from them?
    A Peace Symbol means such that…a wish, a respect for, a longing for, a reverence for PEACE. And you’re disputing that? Calm down and Think People! Please.
    There’s an old saying,”Pick Your Fights Carefully” which means don’t complain about Everything. Just kick up a fuss about the really important stuff. This is true in all human relationships. It calls to mind the nagging wife..she drives her husband crazy about every little friggin’ thing..until he just stops listening for his own sanity. Thanks For Reading.

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