Friday, August 20, 2010


The politics of race that have been burbling around Obama since he became a candidate are coming to a boil -- in coded form -- in the current anti-Islam mania. This is not to suggest that there isn't also genuine Islamaphobia at work, but that this phobia has encompassed Obama from the beginning. Back in the era of Martin Luther King, Jr., it was fashionable to equate the civil rights agenda with Communism -- that is to equate the otherness of King's race (at least from the perspective of those whites who hated and feared him) with that of the "big Other" threatening the US at the time. That Big Other has changed, but the equation remains (check out the conspiracy sites): those who hate and fear Obama for his otherness seek to align him with the current big Other threatening the US (Islamic terrorism) -- and of course, they throw in the familiar bogeyman of socialism/communism for good measure.

Part of the furor is the direct outcome of the way the politics of race continue to manifest itself in various (not-so-suppressed) and coded forms. A quick browse through the various Obama hate sites make the equation clear -- and sheds light on some of the more coded attacks. Take, for example, the Washington Times piece on "Obama's Invisible Islam" that concludes with the observation that, "President Obama's continuing solicitude toward the faith of Muhammad is inexplicable, and as these acts of denial continue, it is becoming dangerous. The United States will not defeat an enemy it is afraid to identify." The implication of course is that, deep down, Obama is sympathetic and solicitous of our enemy. Watch closely how his defense of property rights, freedom of religion and expression, will be used to imply the same thing.

No comments: