There's no denying the racist undercurrent of a lot of the anti-Obama sentiment being fomented by Fox News, right-wing bloggers and the McCain campaign. OTOH, it's not traditional racism, with the more popular lies about African Americans. They're not claiming Obama is stupid or that he only got his elite education through affirmative action. They're not claiming he's sexually irresponsible and after white women. They're not even getting very far with the "angry black man" libel. Any of those claims would be completely laughable in the face of the man's obvious intelligence, happy family life, erudition, and almost preternatural calm. So what are they claiming?
- That he thinks he's better than "regular Americans"
- That he consorts with dubious people and traitors
- That he's not in touch with mainstream America
- That he's not a Christian
- That he and his friends control Hollywood and the mainstream media
- That he eats strange foods
- That he and his friends are wealthy and not like down-to-earth "heartland" Americans
These are all staples of anti-Semitism. Barack Obama is being treated by the Right as if he were a Jew. So it wasn't surprising to me to see that the founder of many of these untruths, Andy Martin is a long time and well-known anti-Semite. Don't get me wrong - I don't doubt that Obama is a committed Christian. He's just being treated like these people treat Jews.
In a tangentially related op-ed piece in the Times, the history of Jewish campaign buttons was reviewed. Here are the campaign buttons aimed at Jewish supporters provided by the McCain and Obama campaigns:
What's the difference between them? At least one actual Jew was involved in the design of the Obama one. I kind of doubt the same is true of the McCain one.
Unsurprisingly, the Obama campaign has also provided buttons for LGBT supporters and the McCain campaign has not.
For those puzzled by my subject line, it's a reference to Toni Morrison's 1998 New Yorker essay, reproduced here, titled "Clinton as the First Black President."