Sunday, March 25, 2012
Republican Racism Example #46: Fried Chicken, Fetish Gear and Obama
North Carolina conservative blogger Tara Servatius of the John Locke Foundation, a right-wing think tank devoted to “free markets,” resigned this past Thursday after she posted a bizarre photoshopped picture of President Obama in chains and drag with a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken between his legs.
The Google Image Servatius posted on the John Locke Foundation blog. (Image from http://southernstudies.org/2012/03/leading-blogger-for-conservative-nc-think-tank-resigns-over-offensive-obama-image.html).
Servitius insisted that she didn’t know that bigoted whites have long stereotyped African Americans as loving to eat fried chicken and watermelon. In the past Servatius has spoken to meetings of the League of the South, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has described as a hate group.”
According to the Facing South website, “The image was abruptly removed [fro the John Locke Foundation blog] late Wednesday evening, after ArtPopeExposed.com and others noted the image, igniting a flurry of criticism on Twitter and elsewhere.”
Servatius claimed she copied the picture from Google Images to make a legitimate satirical point. "At the time, I was searching for a picture of the president in drag to illustrate his Southern political strategy of courting young voters, a majority of whom support gay marriage," Servatius wrote online after the picture was discovered. "It was one of the first photos to come up on Google Images. Regrettably, I didn't think about the racial implications of the picture when I posted it. I simply don't think in those terms. Unfortunately some people do. To me, fried chicken is simply a Southern cuisine. So the picture seemed perfect to illustrate Obama's Southern strategy."
As the Huffington Post reports, Servatius said she used to picture to argue, “that Obama's opposition to a ban on gay marriage in North Carolina was a calculated move to increase the vote among young Obama-supporting professionals in the state.” In other words, her defense was that she’s not a racist, merely a homophobe.
On his Facebook page, John Hood, the president of the John Locke Foundation, described the picture as “offensive” and “utterly inappropriate.” He called Servatius a “freelancer” for the group and said, “"This is the kind of episode that can only make the [political] situation worse. We should be able to disagree about controversial issues without it coming to this." Rick Henderson, the managing editor of the John Locke blog said that no one reviewed the picture before it went online.
"We typically do not review blog items prior to publication," Henderson said. "We ... have chosen not to dedicate the significant amount of staff time that would be needed to conduct that level of supervision at all the (five) sites."
Tara Servatius "didn't know" it was racist to depict the president as hugging a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Photo from http://petekaliner.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Tara-Servatius.jpg).
The picture remained on the John Locke site for at least five hours. In spite of Hood’s efforts to minimize Servatius’s role, the Facing South website reports that Servatius was a major online contributor to the groups’ blog. “In addition to controlling the blog's Twitter account, Servatius was also by far its most prolific contributor: A look at the site's three most recent pages reveals 15 of the last 20 posts were written by Servatius.” The John Locke group was apparently not concerned with or did not bother to check Servatius’ past association with the Neo-Confederate League of the South. According to the SPLC:
“The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by ‘European Americans.’ The league believes the ‘godly’ nation it wants to form should be run by an ‘Anglo-Celtic’ (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities.”
Facing South reports, “Servatius was fired in 2011 from WBT-AM radio in Charlotte, where she hosted a political talk show. Her ouster was rumored to be related to growing complaints about her controversial positions on the air.”
(For more, see http://southernstudies.org/2012/03/leading-blogger-for-conservative-nc-think-tank-resigns-over-offensive-obama-image.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/obama-offensive-cartoon_n_1373697.html?ref=elections-2012 and http://news.bostonherald.com/news/national/south/view/20120323conservative_blogger_resigns_over_image_of_obama/srvc=home&position=recent).
Michael Phillips has authored the following:
White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006)
(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)
“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)
“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ” in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)
“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)
(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).
(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).
(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013).
“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).
He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.