How Easy Is It To Be Racist?
It's so easy that, if a black person behaves like a fool, then you're the racist.
Yesterday we asked "How Racist Is the Obama Phone Video?" It turns out that we didn't just need to explain the degree of the racism, but whether it was racist at all. After rallying around a video of a black woman explaining (incorrectly) that Obama had given her a free cell phone as a sure-fire way of boosting Mitt Romney's campaign ("I could see that video turned into an incredible ad. No voice over needed. Just let it play and at the end, 'I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message.' Landslide."), some folks acted outraged that we would notice that they were trading in horrendous racial stereotypes. While there are plenty of studies investigating the way racial code words are used in political advertising ("inner city," for example), this is not coded. This video, if placed in a Romney ad, would make George H.W. Bush's 1988 Willie Horton ad look subtle by comparison: the other guy is supported by scary black people, vote Republican!
The "Obama Phone" video is not being used by the Romney campaign. So we can't say that it's a racist attempt to get votes in the election. Right now, it sits in the middle ground between "stuff on the Internet" and "serious political issue." But it took one big step toward becoming a serious issue when, on the same day, Rush Limbaugh played it repeatedly on his radio show and the Drudge Report posted it at the top of his page. They'd probably call it humor? Limbaugh finds a lot of things funny about Democrats, like how fat Michelle Obama is. And an Obama voter who seems to be dumb? That's comedy gold, or as he described the "Obama Phone" video, "That's not Saturday Night Live. That is a real Obama voter." Because a video of a black woman with bad teeth and a poor grasp of the history of the Universal Service Fund proves that Democrats are stupid, lazy, and, oh, black. "That is a real Obama voter." We say, that's racist.