Links of Interest: Anxious Black Women, New Racial Politics in SC, Religious Bigotry, and More

Here are some interesting reads:

• The Huffington Post has a very good story on how Pre-Election Anxiety Squeezes African American Women.

“On the news yesterday, they revealed a potential neo-Nazi plot against Barack Obama, and then they gave more details on the racially-motivated Ashley Todd hoax. It made my heart pound. My blood pressure rose precipitously,” said anthropologist Wende Marshall, professor of public health services, University of Virginia.

Barack Obama’s candidacy represents a pivotal moment in history, and many African American women are having a visceral reaction to the final, frantic days of the presidential campaign.

• South Carolina’s The State has a report on the emergence of a new generation of black leaders.

African-Americans could end up holding a majority of policymaking positions in Richland County, South Carolina this year, continuing a shift toward a younger generation of black leaders. Richland is the location of South Carolina’s capital city, Columbia.

From the General Assembly to County Council and City Hall, voters this decade have selected more black candidates, some of them breaking through racial barriers to win in white-majority districts.
These politicians are different from those who came of age in the Civil Rights era.

They are Democrats who don’t toe the party line. They run a different style of campaign. And their pragmatic approach to politics sometimes rubs those who came before them the wrong way.

“They were fighting for social equality while we are fighting for economic equality,” said Barry A. Walker Sr., 47, an Irmo town councilman who owns a restaurant and blues club in downtown Columbia. “I’m not running on the fact I couldn’t sit at the lunch counter. I can eat where I want — but wonder if I can afford it.”

• At the website Political Intersection, black Republican Sophia Nelson looks at race in the campaign in her essay Murtha, Powell, McCain, Obama, Palin: Let’s Talk About Race & the 2008 Campaign

The problem for the GOP is as I stated back in March in Politico in my article titled, “Obama Does Not Have a Race Problem, the GOP Does.” The proverbial chickens have come home to roost for my party because of years of “southern strategy” politics, neglect of black voters, and catering to mostly white southern conservative constituencies. This has laid the groundwork that anything McCain & Palin say will be wrongly construed as “race baiting” or worse.

I also reject that using Senator Obama’s middle name is somehow a racist thing to do. It is as former U.S. Civil Rights Chairman & longtime liberal Democrat Mary Frances Berry (who is also black) stated on CNN on Wednesday, October 8th, “I do not think it is racial “code” language to call Senator Obama by his name. After all it is his name and if he is elected –we will call him Barack Hussein Obama—as we did Lyndon Baines Johnson, George W. Bush, George HW Bush, and William Jefferson Clinton.”

What the past two weeks in American politics has proven to me is that we are still in some ways two separate and unequal Americas—less so on race—and much more so on social class and geographic divisions. That is key to understanding the McCain-Palin strategy. We all need to take a collective national breath and get a grip. We are in very serious and very dangerous economic times—I want the President who is going to lead America to brighter days and sustained prosperity—I don’t care what color he is or how old he is—like most Americans, I want results.

• Concerning a comment from the above link, {I do not think it is racial “code” language to call Senator Obama by his middle name}: the use of Obama’s middle name is not racial code, it’s religious code. One of the undercurrents in this year’s election season is religious bigotry against Muslims in particular and non-Christians in general. Colin Powell touched on this eloquently is his endorsement of Obama.

Perhaps the most horrific case of religious bigotry on the campaign is Republican North Carolina senator Elizabeth Dole’s “Godless” ad attack on challenger Kay Hagan. The ad, in all its hateful glory, is here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lf2vDk-4Ag

The ad demonizes atheists, and implies that Hagan herself is “godless”. It has been condemned by GOP operatives like Ed Rollins and Alex Castellanos, and rightfully so.

• This is an interesting story from Knoxnews.com: Jamillah Farrakhan balances fashion and faith

Jamillah Farrakhan balances fashion with her faith.

The 25-year-old is the granddaughter of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and one of the models at the Ebony Fashion Fair.

Satire: Obama as Batman, McCain as The Penguin

The McCain campaign recently ran a political ad asking “do you know Barack Obama?” and taking him to task for his “friendship” with Bill Ayers.

The McCain ad is here:

The whole Obama/Ayers guilt by association smear has been thoroughly debunked; look here for an example.

But leave it to the Internet to find an amusing rejoinder to the McCain ad, this time via a reference to the campy version of Batman from the 1960s:

The whole thing was taken to the extreme, witness this:

Thanks to the Blacksonville Community Network for the pic.

Republicans in Pennsylvania Warn Jewish Voters That Obama Will Lead to Another Holocaust

In order for John McCain to win the presidential election, he has to win in one or two key northern states. So the McCain campaign is pulling out all the stops to eke out a win in places like Pennsylvania, for example.

What does “pulling out all the stops” look like? How about this:

AP, PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania Republicans are disavowing an e-mail sent to Jewish voters that likens a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to events that led up to the Holocaust.

“Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008,” the e-mail reads. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake. Let’s not make a similar one this year!”

A copy of the e-mail, provided by Democratic officials, says it was “Paid for by the Republican Federal Committee of PA – Victory 2008.”

The story from the Associated Press notes that the Pennsylvania Republican Party was for the mailing before they were against it:

Political consultant Bryan Rudnick, identified as the strategist who helped write the message, was reached Saturday night and confirmed he no longer works for the party, which employed him a few weeks ago as a consultant to do outreach to Jewish voters.

“I had authorization from party officials” to send the e-mail, Rudnick said, but he declined to say who had signed off on it. “I’m not looking to drag anyone else through the mud, so I’m not naming names right now,” he said.

This comes on the heels of the story of an attempted hoax by McCain campaign volunteer Ashley Todd in Pittsburgh. Todd, a 20-year-old college student , had claimed that she was mugged at an ATM by a large black man who, upon seeing a McCain sticker on her car, scratched the letter “B” — for “Barack” — on her face.

If that story sounds unreal, it’s because it was. Todd has since admitted it was all a hoax.

Questions remian, though, about the complicity of the Republican Party in publicizing the hoax to the press. As reported at the website Talking Points Memo (TPM):

John McCain’s Pennsylvania communications director told reporters in the state an incendiary version of the hoax story about the attack on a McCain volunteer well before the facts of the case were known or established — and even told reporters outright that the “B” carved into the victim’s cheek stood for “Barack,” according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told TPM Election Central that McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”

Verrilli also told TPM that the McCain spokesperson had claimed that the “B” stood for Barack. According to Verrilli, the spokesperson also told KDKA that Sarah Palin had called the victim of the alleged attack, who has since admitted the story was a hoax.

The McCain spokesperson’s claims… (are) significant because it reveals a McCain official pushing a version of the story that was far more explosive than the available or confirmed facts permitted at the time.

It seems that the communications staff for the Pennsylvania Republican Party has been very busy lately.

Fortunately, the hoax was revealed before the police went on a witch hunt to find a “big black guy” who might have been responsible for the fake assault.

It seems that the Republican Party has a history of using scare tactics in western Pennsylvania.

I’ve spoken with a lot of folks about this. Are these acts by the McCain campaign racist? No, not intentionally. But it does show that, in this time of desperation, some members of the McCain campaign have lost their moral compass, and will in fact say anything and do anything to get their candidate elected. I hope the voters are taking notice.

Progressives Push Back Against the New McCarthyism; It’s the New Progressive Infrastructure at Work

McCarthyism is a term describing the intense anti-communist suspicion in the United States in a period that lasted roughly from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. This period is also referred to as the Second Red Scare, and coincided with increased fears about communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents.

Originally coined to criticize the actions of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, “McCarthyism” later took on a more general meaning, not necessarily referring to the conduct of Joseph McCarthy alone.

During this time many thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies.
Wikipedia


A 1947 comic book published by the Catechetical Guild Educational Society warning of the supposed dangers of a Communist takeover.

There’s a saying from the Greeks that, whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.

Well, it seems like the Republicans are pretty mad right now.

And when Republicans get mad, they turn to one of their old stand-bys: characterizing Democrats and liberals as anti-American, unpatriotic, socialist, communist scum.

The poster child for this shameless post-McCarthyism has become Michele Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota. This is from an interview of Bachmann with Chris Matthews on the MSNBC show Hardball:

MATTHEWS: You believe Barack Obama may – because of this relationship (to Bill Ayers) – have anti-American views?

BACHMANN: Absolutely. I’m very concerned that he [Obama] may have anti-American views.

MATTHEWS: How many in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti-American? You already suspect Barack Obama — is he alone or do you think there are others?

BACHMANN: The news media should do a penetrating expose … on the views of the people in Congress and find out if they’re pro-America or anti-America.

Although Bachmann has gotten the most notoriety for her comments, she’s certainly not alone in playing the McCarthy card. At a fund raiser in North Carolina, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation”… a comment that, by logical extension, means city and suburban folks-the types who vote for Democrats-are “fake” and “unpatriotic” Americans.

At a campaign rally in North Carolina, Republican congressman Robin Hayes said that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.” At a meeting of Florida Republican in Orlando, Republican Senator Mel Martinez compared Barack Obama’s tax plans to those in Castro’s Cuba, saying “That’s socialism, that’s communism, that’s not what Americanism is about.”

Keep in mind, this is coming from high level elected Republican officials. It’s not hard to imagine that even worse is being said by state and local Republican officials. (And we won’t even talk about what’s happening on talk radio.)

Now, there was a time when Democrats and liberals would cower in fear at these kinds of attacks. These are the same tactics that, after all, helped to spark the Reagan Revolution and get George W Bush elected and re-elected. But that was then.

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The Hate That Hate Produced: The Demonization of Barack Obama by the Republican Party

Conservative political pundit Charles Krauthammer is in what I call a state of disingenuous denial. Writing in the Washington Post, he said

Let me get this straight. A couple of agitated yahoos in a rally of thousands yell something offensive and incendiary, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are not just guilty by association — with total strangers, mind you — but worse: guilty according to the New York Times of “race-baiting and xenophobia.”

…McCain has never said that, nor anything like that. When asked at the time to produce one instance of McCain deploying race, the Obama campaign could not. Yet here was Obama firing a preemptive charge of racism against a man who had not indulged in it. An extraordinary rhetorical feat, and a dishonorable one.

What makes this all the more dismaying is that it comes from Barack Obama, who has consistently presented himself as a healer, a man of a new generation above and beyond race, the man who would turn the page on the guilt-tripping grievance politics of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

It’s quite true that McCain has kept his own hands clean of the scurrilous attacks that have been made on Obama. But Palin and other Republican surrogates have had no problems with doing the dirty work, a fact that Krauthammer conveniently ignores.

And their dirty work is plain to see. The Republicans have engaged, and are engaging, in a massive effort to demonize Obama.

As described here,

Demonization is the characterization of individuals, groups, or political bodies as evil or subhuman for purposes of justifying and making plausible an attack, whether in the form of character assassination, legal action, circumscribing of political liberties, or warfare.

That’s the theory. Here’s how the Republicans have put theory into practice.

This:

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Sacramento County Republican Party Says “Waterboard Obama”

This is so outrageous and disgusting, it leaves me speechless. This is a graphic that was displayed on the web site of the Sacramento County (California) Republican Party:



Source: Fox News

WTF?!?!

As reported on many sites, including this from Fox News:

A California county’s Republican Party Web site encouraged readers to “Waterboard Barack Obama” and compared Obama to Usama bin Laden, drawing criticism on Wednesday from Democrats and Republicans in the state.

The Web site of the Sacramento County Republican Party posted five illustrations saying that the terrorist group Hamas supported Obama and that “the only difference between Obama and Osama is BS.” Another attacked Michelle Obama, reading, “Hey Obama! Want to see bitter?”

The graphics were removed from the site by Wednesday, after the state GOP urged the local group to take them down.

The state Republican Party learned of the controversial content when it received a phone call from a reporter, said party spokesman Hector Barajas.

“I called the Sacramento county chairman and I had them remove it,” Barajas said. “I also noted to them that this is a complete distraction from what we’re trying to do, and that’s elect John McCain and Sarah Palin as the next president and vice president of the United States.”

Sacramento County Republican Chairman Craig MacGlashan could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, but the Sacramento Bee reported that he defended the Web site’s content. “I’m aware of the content,” MacGlashan told the newspaper. “Some people find it offensive, others do not. I cannot comment on how people interpret things.”

By Tuesday night the graphics had been removed. “These types of innuendos have absolutely no place in this election,” Barajas said. “This isn’t a thing we want out there.”

Let’s not sugar-coat this. This is hate speech. And it comes from an official Republican Party organization.

I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong.

See also:
• The Hate That Hate Produced: The Demonization of Barack Obama by the Republican Party
• WTF?!? Racist Insanity

McCain Tries To Put the Genie Back In the Bottle… But the Haters Keep Hating

God don’t like ugly.

And he’s not the only one.

On Friday, John McCain had to come to grips with the hate that hate produced. After several days of full frontal negative assaults on Barack Obama’s character, and the resulting bitterness and belligerence they instilled in his supporters, McCain said at a townhall meeting that Barack Obama was, after all, a decent man. What did that get for McCain? Boos.

This was a great piece of political theater for news junkies. But it leaves a big, unanswered question: where does McCain go from here?

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(Off Topic) CBS Gets Punked by the McCain Campaign. Are They Acting Like Punks Now?

In the brouhaha over the lipstick faux controversy, an even bigger issue was overlooked by the media: the McCain campaign’s false and misleading use of the words and images of CBS news anchor Katie Couric in the original version of the lipstick ad.

In the initial version of the ad that was posted on YouTube, footage of Couric complaining about sexism (specifically, the way that Hillary Clinton was treated by the media) was added at the end. The way the editing was done, it appeared that Couric was criticizing Obama for sexism; the ad was clearly constructed to have that effect.

The ad was pulled from Youtube after CBS asked it be removed. A CBS News spokesperson stated that “CBS News does not endorse any candidate in the presidential race. Any use of CBS personnel in political advertising that suggests the contrary is misleading.”

And that’s all well and good. But shouldn’t CBS be saying more than that?

This is a case where the image of a major figure on a major network was misappropriated and misused for political purposes. Where is the outrage?

I would have expected, at the least, an on-air statement that “Katie Couric’s image was used in a fraudulent manner by the McCain campaign. Many of you don’t know this. We want the viewers to know.”

And they could have taken that further by saying “We want the McCain campaign to issue an apology.” And even further: “We want an assurance that it won’t happen again.”

If something like that happened to NBC, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann would have made a 15 minute special comment to decry the egregious behavior of the McCain campaign. (Heck, Olbermann probably wishes this had happened to NBC.)

But CBS did none of that. I hate to be cruel and crude, but I have to say it: the dispassionate statement by CBS amounts to, in street terms, a punk’s response. It’s tone and tenor was nowhere near proportionate to the level of the offense. I’ve seen slaps on the wrist that are harsher.

Let me make it clear: this is not about McCain or the GOP or Palin. This is about a news network taking a stand for its integrity and respect. If CBS can’t stand up for themselves, how can they stand up for their viewers, who are expecting CBS to be a strong and independent voice for the reporting of the news?

Perhaps, after being burned by the controversies involving Dan Rather, CBS is fearful of another charge of liberal bias from the Republican Party. I can sympathize with those concerns.

But the news business is not a place for the weak of heart. If CBS is going to be so reticent that it can’t properly respond to such a blatantly fraudulent use of their top newscaster, then they might as well sell the network to somebody who has the spine to do so.

(Satire) Lipstick Sublimina

Is there a subliminal message in the McCain lipstick ad that claimed Barack Obama was smearing Sarah Palin?

Probably not. But just think of the impact on the unconscious mind of the images conjured by these words:

• black male
• white female
• lipstick
• smear

Now, I’m not saying there was something “intentional” about the way the ad was devised. Nobody could be that cynical and calculating… right? But I had to laugh when I thought about it. I wonder if anybody else gets the joke.

Where are social comics like Richard Pryor and George Carlin when we need them?

Were the Concern Trolls Right About the Harsh Democratic Primary?

The problem for Obama and Clinton: by ratcheting up their attacks on each other, they risk weakening the eventual nominee in the general election against McCain. They are certainly supplying the Republicans with a priceless amount of free advertising. Clinton’s “red phone” ads raising questions about Obama’s preparedness to be commander in chief, and Obama’s counterattack commercials challenging Clinton’s judgment, are likely to be re-aired by GOP politicos into the fall if she somehow manages to emerge as the nominee. Indeed, one reason for Clinton’s success on Tuesday appeared to be her campaign’s decision to attack Obama’s integrity and honesty—raising questions about his relationship with a Chicago real-estate magnate charged with extortion and his reported waffling over the NAFTA trade pact, as well as his readiness; exit polls showed that late deciders broke decisively for the New York senator.

…Clinton’s… wins (in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode island) made it probable the Democratic battle would go on for some time to come despite Obama’s seemingly insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and Clinton’s loss in Vermont on Tuesday.

from Newsweek, March 5, 2008

“Concern troll” is a term of derision that is applied to people who whiningly post statements of worry or concern on internet forums, without adding anything new or informative or enlightening to a discussion. Some “concern trolls” are pure “trolls”-as described on Wiktionary, they post on internet forums claiming to share the goals of forum members while deliberately working against those goals. They do this by claiming “concern” about group plans to engage in productive activity, urging members instead to attempt some activity that would damage the group’s credibility, or alternatively, to give up on the group’s goals or projects entirely.

The concern trolls were in full force during the Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. As Newsweek observed, the ire raised by the intensity of their fight led many to feel that the winner might be badly damaged in the general election campaign against John McCain.

Well, it looks like the concern trolls were right. A large of part of the media narrative during the Democratic Convention this week has been the dissatisfaction of Hillary supporters. John McCain has actually done a political ad featuring a former Clinton supporter who has gone over to the dark side now claims she will vote for John McCain.

It’s been a public relations mess for the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party.

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Republican Scare Tactics, Circa 1949

Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about political ads. This is from an earlier blog post, back when this site wasn’t getting a lot hits.

I think this speaks for itself. It almost makes the Willie Horton ads from the 1988 presidential campaign seem tame.

Note the little girl’s doll:

This picture was taken in 1949. Obviously, Republican campaign tactics haven’t changed much.

This is from the excellent book, One Shot Harris: The Photographs of Charles “Teenie” Harris. Harris was a photographer who worked for the Pittsburgh Courier, which was one of the nation’s top black newspapers.

The book contains photographs taken by Harris from the 1940s through the 1960s. Black Issues Book Review said this about Harris and the book:

One Shot Harris is pure soul. Though Harris photographed people living in poverty, most of his photos break away from the all-too-familiar images that oftentimes represent blacks during hard times. Instead, Harris focused on local folk–proud at work and at home–along with numerous celebrities to convey cultural pride. He took particular pleasure in highlighting The Hill District, the Pittsburgh neighborhood where many African Americans flocked seeking employment and entertainment.

“What I’d like for readers to take away from this book,” says writer Stanley Crouch, “is that Harris shows that these black communities, regardless of all stereotypes, were as civilized as any community in the entire western world.”

The book contains an essay by noted writer Stanley Crouch, and a biography of Harris by African American photography scholar Deborah Willis. Highly recommended.

The Bradley Effect: A Reason for Obama to Choose Hillary Clinton as VP?

You can’t trust polls. Especially when black candidates are involved.

And that could mean big problems for Barack Obama, problems that argue for something that almost certainly won’t happen: choosing Senator Hillary Clinton for Vice President.

What is Obama’s polling problem? It’s called the Bradley affect. Rebecca Curtis describes this phenomenon in the Huffington Post:

The Bradley Effect’s named for the long-time African-American Mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, who ran for Governor of California in 1982. Election-eve, Bradley was so far ahead of his white Republican opponent that newspapers printed headlines saying “Bradley Wins!” But he lost by 50,000 votes. Why? White voters who’d claimed they’d support him changed their minds–in the voting booth.

In 1989, Douglas Wilder, the Democratic black Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, ran for Governor, and stayed nine points ahead of white Republican Marshall Coleman all through the race. Yet on election-day, Wilder won by just half a point.

Also in 1989, African-American Democrat David Dinkins kept an eighteen-point lead over his rival for mayor of New York, white Republican Rudy Giuliani; until final tally. Dinkins squeaked by with two points.

In 1990, African-American Democrat Harvey Gantt ran against white Republican Jesse Helms for a North Carolina Senate seat. Throughout the contest, Gantt (like Obama) was predicted to win by 4-6 points. He lost to Helms by six.

Why the reversals? Some white voters lie about whom they support, so as not to seem racist. But most probably intend to vote for the black candidate, and simply, on the day of election, freak out. They feel suddenly nervous about the black candidate’s “competence,” or “experience,” and pick the “known quantity,”–the white guy.

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I Feel His Pain: Hurting Vicariously for Obama

I’m trying not to take it personally. But…

But when an ad appears on the TV screen, and a picture of Barack Obama is juxtaposed with images of two blonde bimbos (sorry for the disrespect Britney and Paris), it makes my eyes see red.

I know my reaction isn’t reasonable. After all, It’s not like Obama is my brother, and so “if you start a fight with him, you’d better be ready to fight all of us.” An attack on Obama is not an attack on my family’s honor. I know this.

But darn it, I am pissed off at the McCain campaign’s personal and scurrilous attacks on Obama.

Because it feels like an attack on me. I’m trying to get over that, but it’s been hard.

I’m living vicariously through Obama in the worst kind of way.

Here’s the funny thing about it. I don’t feel that Obama’s success is my success. I don’t believe that an Obama presidency will somehow “make things better” for black people, as some folks think/hope. I don’t think it will necessarily uplift or inspire the downtrodden portions of the black community that could use it most. In fact, just the opposite could happen. There is a real possibility that black Americans will go through a period of despair and even anger when they see the reality that there is very little that Obama can or will do to help the lives of the average person on the street.

And it’s not like I see myself in Obama. His atypical African American experience-raised by a white family from Kansas in the “exotic” state of Hawaii-doesn’t resonate with me at a personal level.

It’s not like the prospect of Obama being elected is moving the needle on my Black Pride Meter.

So no, I’m not “feeling” Obama, to use a recent slang term.

But I am feeling his pain. A lot.

But pain, after all, is a part of the black experience, a universal part of the black experience: whether you live in a mansion in Baldwin Hills or a shack outside of Indianola, Mississippi, you will cringe at the sight of a lynching photo. We can all “relate” to that.

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McCain Ad: Support for the “Obama is AntiChrist Movement”? (Note: This is NOT Satire)

America has never faced so many different crises at the same time in living memory. The war with al-Qaida and Islamic terror, the Iran crisis, Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation, the rising price of oil, the falling dollar, enemy acronyms like OPEC, NAM, OIC, U.N. … Obama is correct in saying that the world is ready for someone like him – a messiah-like figure, charismatic and glib and seemingly holding all the answers to all the world’s questions.

And the Bible says that such a leader will soon make his appearance on the scene. It won’t be Barack Obama, but Obama’s world tour provided a foretaste of the reception he can expect to receive.

He will probably also stand in some European capital, addressing the people of the world and telling them that he is the one that they have been waiting for. And he can expect as wildly enthusiastic a greeting as Obama got in Berlin.

The Bible calls that leader the Antichrist. And it seems apparent that the world is now ready to make his acquaintance.

Hal Lindsey, “How Obama prepped world for the Antichrist,” World Net Daily, 8/4/08

It’s not silly season in Washington. It’s worse. Much worse.

John McCain’s campaign ad calling Barack Obama “The One,” and comparing Obama to a Charlton Heston image of Moses, is fueling on-going speculation that Barack Obama is the AntiChrist. This is not a joke.

In fact, there is actually a blog with the name Barack Obama the AntiChrist? The site says the McCain ad “is very funny, but frankly it must mean Obama really has been portraying himself as a messiah to people, and they have been buying it. McCain has recognized it, and I hope you have too.”

Is this just the work of a few crackpots? Consider this: the site has a poll which asks “Is Barack Obama the AntiChrist?” As I write this, 6100 people have taken the poll. Of that number, 47% answered YES, 33% said MAYBE, and just 18% said NO. That’s almost 5000 people who think Obama is or might be the AntiChrist.

And a rule of thumb is, if one person is talking about something on the Internet, tens or hundreds or thousands of people are thinking the exact same thing.

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The Consequences of Race History Ignorance on Our Politics

Several days ago, a pro-Republican blog made the following, outrageous comment:

Obama = Rascist?

…just wanted to get something off my chest. Obama is not black. He is MULATTO! By calling himself black, he is denying his Anglo heritage. Is he ashamed? Does he not want to admit that he was reared by “typical” white people. By disparaging his “white” heritage, he undermines both his candidacy and understanding of America…

I was barely able to contain myself when reading this. I wrote back, in part:

This is RIDICULOUS. In fact, some 65-75% of the nation’s 36 million African Americans have some “white blood” – including me. Are 27 million of us “bad” because we are “denying our Anglo heritage?”

The fact is, it is common practice, the expected practice in America for anyone with some African heritage to be considered “black.” And as stated earlier – this is a practice that white Americans instituted and ENFORCED. It’s called the ONE DROP RULE. So now we have a situation where Obama is being called racist for following an ongoing social custom that was instituted by and for the benefit of white Americans! I can’t think of anything more insane.

It is fair to say that, given cultural changes, perhaps a different approach should be taken. But this is a complex issue that anyone who is black or biracial could expand on at length… at much length. As such, it is outrageously unfair that you single out Obama as being “bad” for following a social custom that is practiced/accepted by millions. If you’re going to do a “call-out” on this, don’t do it as part of an attack on someone that you that obviously don’t like politically (because it looks like an ad hominem political attack); instead, address it as part of larger effort to deal with the problems in race relations in America. That would be fair.

I ended my comment by saying “this just looks like a case where you’re attacking (Obama) personally and simplistically over his racial identity, without really delving into the history and complexities of the subject.”

And I began thinking: if people don’t know about something as basic as the one drop rule for determining race, how much more is there that they don’t know? And how can they possibly make fair and educated judgments concerning the race issues involved in the candidacy of the first African American to be a major party’s nominee for president?

The answer is, they can’t. And this highlights a major problem in this country: our failure to properly and comprehensively teach racial history to our children, especially white children.

African American history, it seems, has become the province of a predominantly black group of scholars, some members of the educated class of blacks, and 28 or 29 days near the start of the year. That’s not good enough.

Yes, we all know that the country once practiced slavery and Jim Crow. We all know about Martin Luther King, Jr, his civil rights marches, and his assassination. But that ‘s barely sufficient to earn a “D” in racial history.

What is clearly lacking in white Americans especially is an awareness of the extent to which racism has disrupted the social fabric of both whites and blacks; and an understudying of just how racism is promoted in our society. (Some people have described the pitiful way we teach students about race as the “white-washing” of history.)

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