Rumors that black people are likely to riot after next week's election is the lowest form of fear-mongering yet by Obama's opponents. The sleaziest ones go so far as to say that regardless whether Obama wins or loses black people are going to take to the streets in a wild frenzy - whether it's in celebration of an Obama win or outrage at a McCain upset. The inference is the same: Black people (and Obama is one of them, remember) can't be trusted to conduct themselves in a civilized manner when put to the test. And, oh yeah, as more than one anti-Obama voter has left in the comment section of my blog, whites would be wise therefore to take cover and avoid areas of their city where blacks are known to frequent lest they end up the victim of black violence. On radio and on television in recent weeks more than a few white voters have expressed some fear over what blacks are likely to do next week. I can't say exactly why this one gets to me.
Of all the cheap, ugly, lowdown, racist, and yes even sexist, stereotypes that have circulated during this whole election cycle, this one about blacks rioting hurts most. This is not just Barack Obama, but the whole black race that's being talked about. Drumming up memories of 60s riots by blacks over racial injustices in the country don't compare with what's happening here in this year's presidential election. But at this late date in the campaign, it's not about truth or reality or ethics. It's about winning. By any means necessary. If reasoning with voters doesn't work, then tapping into their deepest, most irrational fears about black people will do, seems to be the logic of some.
Here's what gets me: We have white skinheads caught by the FBI in a scheme to assasinate the black presidential candidate along with dozens of innocent black students. We have a young white woman who finds someone to punch and slap her around and leave bruises on her face so she can claim she was attacked by a black male Obama supporter. We have whites growing angry and rowdy at McCain/Palin rallies, yelling "Kill Him" when Obama's name is mentioned. But never mind any of that. It's black people who are violent and a threat to the commonwealth. I don't dispute that the black community has its share of ugly violence to address. But black communities are not the only ones suffering from this disease. America is a violent country. Period. Americans learn early on how to use violence, and the threat of violence, to get our way. We have an epic entertainment industry that plays on our fears of others and that feeds on our fantasies of doing away violently with those we fear and who oppose us.
May those of us committed to progressive, righteous thinking step up our efforts to persuade everyone around us that not only is violence an immoral choice, but fear-mongering is a losing strategy.
Cross-posted from Beliefnet's Progressive Revival blog