Sunday, March 9, 2008

Republicans Hint at Racist Tenor of Fall Campaign: will Dems Buy In?

By Joel Wendland

Launching a blatantly racist and xenophobic attack, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a radio station this:

"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?

What does "the optics of Barack Obama" mean? It means Barack Obama looks Black and his middle name is "Muslim," therefore, he is not really American. Because of Obama's optics, how he looks, he will pursue policies that hurt America and benefit terrorists, King insisted.

King is well known for his extreme views on racism and hatred for immigrants and so forth. So many will dismiss him as such. But some of these ideas have crept into the Democratic side and are being used in the race for the nomination as well.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell told reporters in February that he thought Barack Obama would not win in Pennsylvania because he is Black. While Rendell and his surrogates described his view as "realistic," it is a view that feeds into King's comments. Essentially, Rendell, who is an endorser of Sen. Clinton, is saying, "I refuse to support an African American because some of the people in my state are racists."

In a similar vein, when asked on CBS if she thought Barack Obama is a Muslim, Sen. Hillary Clinton remarked, "There's nothing to base that on, as far as I know."

While not an overtly anti-Muslim comment, Clinton's comment warns, "Fear."

It, too, feeds into and gives subtle legitimacy to Steve King's blatantly racist and xenophobic comments.

This is the politics of division based on fear and hate. If we are to move forward, to change, people like Clinton and Rendell need to stand up to the politics of division and fear and bigotry. They need to claim leadership in the democratic movement and fight the racists and bigots like King, rather than legitimize his hateful remarks.


Harold said...

As if being a Muslim were a crime...

Anonymous said...

This is a disturbing article which I have something not so pleasant to add to. A number of students here have told me that they have been arguing with other students who have been telling them that Obama is a Muslim and thus "dangerous" An older woman former student with sympathies for what Obama stands for told me about people saying the same thing. Along with red-baiting, we can expect the Republicans to be playing this theme out in the gutters of their campaign, with McCain probably saying things like "it doesn't matter."

Norman Markowitz