THE BLOG

A Chilling Note From a Student: Classmates Discuss Shooting Obama

12/19/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Over at my magazine's site, starting over a week ago, we have been chronicling local anti-Obama incidents, many far from the national spotlight, usually involving racist attacks of a verbal, physical or even criminal nature. A few days ago, the Associated Press and some other news outlets picked up on it. But at Editor & Publisher we are still receiving tips and personal accountsv every day, often from small towns in both red and blue states.

Here is the latest just this morning from a student in Iowa (I have her name and address but won't release it here), a state Obama carried rather easily. It is much in line with reported incidents of other school kids, some as young as 7 or 8, talking about "assassinating" Obama. Of course, they couldn't carry that out themselves but what is chilling is that they are likely just repeating language or threats they hear at home.

Here is today's note:

I'm not sure who to email on this, but there have been several derogatory things said about Obama in our school, and one of them got a student suspended. I go to a school in a little town called Letts, Iowa. We are pretty down home, country road farm kids out here. But never, in my 11 years at the school, have I ever heard the conversation take such a negative turn.

The remark that the student was suspended for was this, "Well, it's called the White House for a reason. We need to get that God damn N----- out of there."

There were other remarks, mostly by students who hunt. They were discussing how far a shotgun could shoot, and decided that they could get to a high enough vantage-point to shoot Obama from at least 2 miles away, without anyone ever knowing where the shot came from.

"Another Kennedy" they were saying.


Last night a reader tipped us off to an incident in another Obama-friendly state, Michigan, in the town of Buchanan. Members of the South County Democratic Club woke up Saturday to find their building vandalized with swastikas and racist comments, spray painted on the side of the structure. These kind of incidents have been too common to list all of them.

And to show the true national, if scattered, character of this, I woke up this morning to find this editorial in my local paper, the Journal News, here in deep-blue New York State. The official is from the city of Ossining (the TV home of Don Draper of Mad Men):

Anyone naive enough to believe that Barack Obama's landmark victory would mean an end to racial bigotry and stupidity need look no farther than Ossining for proof positive that we still have a ways to go. Americans made history by electing Obama the first black president; what they didn't do, by any stretch, is wipe away years of ingrained racial prejudice, insensitivity and, once again, stupidity.

Thomas Reddy, assistant village fire chief, deserved a swift boot to the curb for circulating a "knock-knock" joke that ends with a caricature of Obama and the words "Eyes Yo New Prezident." As a former police detective and top fire official - someone who many people want to respect and admire - Reddy is supposed to be a leader in racially diverse Ossining, not an embarrassment. He's supposed to set the bar for better conduct, not lower it. He let all of us down.

Then there's this: Just this morning, the Mount Desert Islander in Maine reported that a third effigy of a black man had been found hanging from a tree in the area since the election. This was was in Somesville, following reports of others in Tremont and Bar Harbort. The paper observes: "State police also are investigating the incidents, which are believed to be in response to the election of Sen. Barack Obama as president."
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Greg Mitchell is editor of Editor & Publisher and its popular new blog. His most recent book, on Iraq and the media, is "So Wrong for So Long."