Race-Baiting Leads Us Down the Wrong Path

By Dom Apollon Oct 14, 2008

Getting Americans to understand the difference between 1) the more typically acknowledged racism of the overt and interpersonal nature, and 2) the more under-recognized and prevalent racism of the structural type is hard enough. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the task will become even harder in the coming months if the steady increase in racist attacks and depictions of Obama continues. After stoking the questions "Who is Barack Obama?" and "Can we trust him?" in his stump speeches, John McCain deserves some marginal credit I suppose for literally dumbfounding a supporter that took the liberty of filling in the blanks herself — "I don’t trust him. He’s not…He’s not…He’s an Arab". But he did nothing to dispel the racist conflating of "Arab" with "terrorist" that continues unabated in this country. Neither have many Democrats been falling over themselves to make this distinction that I have observed. And notice how none of these criticisms of Obama in this Missouri billboard intrinsically require the link to race/ethnicity. But hey, who am I to question an effective PR marketing strategy when I see one? Regardless of the electoral result, I expect the 2008 hate crimes and vandalism statistics at year’s end to exhibit a marked spike on the first Tuesday of November. Particularly given the expanse of Obama’s campaign offices into new and unfriendly territories this year. I have a feeling we’ll be talking about the upcoming incidents of racial strife for years to come. And Americans’ understanding of how racism in this country operates, for the time being, will continue to be largely confined to individual acts and expressions of violence and racial prejudice.