The Overt Racist Attack Has Begun: Republican Bashing of Senator Obama

As I predicted, once Senator Barack Obama was likely to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, the conservative attack machine would crank up a systematic racist attack that plays into the old white racist frame, with its strong antiblack stereotypes, a frame held in most white minds for four centuries. (See the history here.)



A recent journalistic report describes this sustained attack from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who told an Iowa radio station here that

terrorists would dance in the streets if Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, is elected president — precisely because of . . . Obama’s position on withdrawing US troops from Iraq. (Also see here.)

That part is not too surprising. But what follows is one key racist theme and enduring meme that the conservative attack machine will use many times over the coming months.  Republican King told the station that:

because Obama’s middle name is ‘Hussein,’ his father’s Muslim roots, and his appearance — or ‘optics,’ as King put it. ‘I don’t want to disparage anyone because of their, their race, their ethnicity, their name – whatever their religion their father, father might have been.’

Obama’s Muslim father is quickly linked by this representative of the attack machine to his biology, to his physical appearance (quaintly put as his “optics”) –the classic white-racist framing of a black man since at least the 17th century in North America. King then adds:

I’ll just say this that when you think about the optics of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States — and I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam? And I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the, the radical Islamists, the, the al-Qaida, and the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11.

He further accents Obama’s middle name and Muslim father, yet does not mention he is a Christian and has regularly denounced terrorists of all types, a tactic which we have already seen other white conservatives often do:

It does matter, his middle name does matter. It matters because they read a meaning into that in the rest of the world, it has a special meaning to them. They will be dancing in the streets because of his middle name.

He links Muslim, black “optics,” and resistance to intervention in the Middle East for US imperial interests all in the same analysis.

As yet, neither Senator McCain not the Republican Party has decried the explicitly racist comments that seek to frame Obama as what until recently they mostly refrained from doing – a “dangerous” Black man. The next step in the ratcheting-up racist attacks from a Republican Party that since Senator Barry Goldwater has often behaved like the “white man’s party” (for further evidence see here) will come very soon, I firmly predict.

And the attacking actions will be both intentional and carefully planned, with the political goal being quite clear–to play into the old white racial frame in white voters’ minds, including those who have already voted for Senator Obama in the primaries.