Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Republican Racism Example #50: The Smearing Of Trayvon Martin






Stephanie Eisner's racist cartoon about the Trayvon Martin case. (Image taken from  http://gawker.com/5896863/university-of-texas-student-paper-wins-most-racist-trayvon-martin-cartoon-contes)


A disgusting cartoon on the Trayvon Martin shooting that ran in the University of Texas student newspaper this week served as part of a broader campaign by the racist right wing to vilify the black youth as a a dark criminal-in-waiting .

The March 27 cartoon by a UT student, Stephanie Eisner, depicts a white women reading a book called Trayvon Martin And The Case Of Yellow Journalism to a child.  She sits in a chair labeled “the media” and reads to the shocked kid, “AND THEN – the BIG, BAD WHITE man killed the HANDSOME, sweet innocent Colored boy.”  To underscore the racial dynamics of the cartoon, Eisner drew three arrows pointing to the word “white,” which were also underlined, and did the same with the word “Colored.”

Five members of The Daily Texan’s editorial board approved the cartoon before it appeared in print and  in online versions of the newspaper.   Someone pulled the cartoon from the online version by Tuesday evening, though the drawing was still included in the PDF copy of the print edition as of Thursday.  

In yet another moment of insensitive cluelessness, the Daily Texan released the cartoon the same day as a large downtown Austin rally held to protest the Martin shooting and to demand a criminal investigation of the death.  On Wednesday, the newspaper posted the following non-apologetic statement:

“"A controversial editorial cartoon on the Trayvon Martin shooting was published Tuesday on the Opinion page of The Daily Texan. The Daily Texan Editorial Board recognizes the sensitive nature of the cartoon’s subject matter. The views expressed in the cartoon are not those of the editorial board. They are those of the artist. It is the policy of the editorial board to publish the views of our columnists and cartoonists, even if we disagree with them. Please direct any inquiries to editor@dailytexanonline.com.”

Eisner also issued a statement:

"I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting. I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused." (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/university-of-texas-trayvon-cartoon_n_1383539.html). 

Student protests beginning Wednesday afternoon pressured the Daily Texan to reverse course.  For days the newspaper refused to acknowledge the use of the crude, racist term “colored” and Eisner’s clear implication that the unarmed teenager Martin must have been shot because he was guilty of something.  On Thursday the newspaper finally apologized and fired Eisner.

Daily Texan editor-in-chief,  Viviana Aldous, a philosophy major, finally admitted that the cartoon should not have been published.  A junior journalism major at the school, and activist in the Black Student Alliance Jamine Kyles, condemned the newspaper for its callousness.  ““A lot of people don’t realize how insensitive this comic is, and this affects the recruitment of African-American students to the University by making the campus look bad,” Kyles said. “When they see things like this, they think the University is racist even though that hasn’t been everyone’s experience here.” (See http://www.dailytexanonline.com/university/2012/03/29/protesters-racism-still-affects-campus).

UT journalism professor Robert Jensen, who has written extensively on white racism, in books such as 2005’s The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (see http://www.amazon.com/The-Heart-Whiteness-Confronting-Privilege/dp/0872864499/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333050894&sr=1-1), rejected any contention that a cartoon that used the term dated term “colored” could be anything but racist. 

“Any cartoon that uses an overtly racist term such as ‘colored boy’ expresses a racist sentiment,” Jensen said to the Daily Texan. “The evidence is clear that in a white-supremacist society, we white people who do not endorse a racist ideology are not free of racist sentiments at an unconscious level.”
 Some defended the publication of the cartoon and claimed that the newspaper had violated Eisner’s free speech rights.  The Daily Texan on March 29 included these remarks in a story about the cartoon controversy:

“Journalism graduate student Tara Haelle, who taught journalism for four years at Sam Houston High School in Arlington, said she was disappointed by the ‘knee-jerk’ reaction of the alumni and believes the board should not have apologized.
 ‘I would expect the alumni to recognize the importance of free speech and not to chastise and patronize the editorial board,’ Haelle said. ‘I don’t happen to agree with the opinion of the cartoonist, but if nothing else, that cartoon encourages a discussion about race.’”
 Let’s assume that Haelle is just appallingly clueless  to the plantation-era tone of referring to an African American as a “colored boy” and that she’s not actually a racist.   The issue of free speech is a red herring.  Newspapers aren’t obligated to print any particular submission.  They exercise editorial judgment.   Content gets rejected all the time because it’s badly composed, badly reasoned, not relevant and so on.  The Eisner cartoon can be rejected simply on the grounds that it’s a crappy piece of art, that it doesn’t inform and is not funny or wise.  That aside, it contains a racist and dishonest assumption. 

Eisner mocks the media for engaging in “yellow journalism” because of the assumption that Martin was “innocent.”  Let’s be clear.  Martin was an American citizens walking on the streets of a neighborhood where he was visiting his father, carrying nothing more lethal than a bag of Skittles and an ice tea.  He was followed by a larger man carrying a gun who was not a law enforcement officer in any jurisdiction.  Even if we accept his shooter George Zimmerman’s dubious story that he was attacked by the significantly smaller Martin, the black teenager was well within his rights to lunge at a gun-bearing man under the same controversial “stand your ground” law that has been cited to defend the Martin shooting.

Martin’s “innocence” is not even an issue.  He was doing nothing illegal.   Would Eisner question the “innocence” of someone killed by a drunk driver, a bank robber, or in an industrial accident. 

As many have pointed out, Martin can be convicted on one crime: walking while black.  Eisner may not say that Martin is “guilty” of anything, but she assumes we should question the innocence of a black person shot while exercising the rights of any American citizen.  And, yes, Ms. Haelle, responsible newspapers should reject material on the basis of such egregious racism.


This blog is about Republican racism.  I don’t know if Ms. Eisner is a Republican and based on her other cartoons,  I’m not sure she has any coherent political ideology.  The cartoon is relevant to this blog, however, because it echoes the campaign of right wing Republicans to distort the few facts we have about Trayvon Martin’s short life and to posthumously criminalize him – to, in effect, say he deserved to be shot even if he did nothing criminal on the night Zimmerman gunned him down.

Hence, when a neo-Nazi website Stormfront posted a Facebook  picture supposedly of the Trayvon Martin so much in the news – an image showing a black teenage posing shirtless with a menacing glare and wearing sagging pants and flipping off the photographer with both hands – the picture went viral. It leaped from neo-Nazi circles to the Republican Party mainstream.  “This kid’s a dangerous, violent punk,” the image screamed to some whites. 

White backlashers around across the virtual world posted the picture.  Bottom-feeding reactionary columnist Michelle Malkin included the picture of “Trayvon Martin” in a column, placing next to a photo of a cleaned up George Zimmerman wearing a suit and a tie. (Previous photos of Zimmerman appearing in the media showed a scruffy Zimmerman just after an arrest).  Eager to imply that the dead black kid had to be guilty of something and deserved to be shot, Malkin captioned the paired photos with the following the following character defamation:

“Recognize these two people? If you don’t, we’ll help you out. The man on the left is George Zimmerman, the man accused of murdering the boy on the right, Trayvon Martin. The mainstream media won’t show you these two photos because they convey a message that no one else wants to take into consideration.”


Right-wing blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin posted a picture of the wrong Trayvon Martin in order to make the slain teenager appear more menacing. (Photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Malkin).

A dishonest, shabby coward, Malkin doesn’t bother to spell out what that “message” is to her, Eisner and similar cretins: that black people are scary and she feels better when they’re safely dead.  Unfortunately for Malkin, it turned out that the threatening “boy in the hood” photo turned out to be of a different Trayvon Martin.  That’s what happens when you rely on Neo-Nazis for your news.



When Malkin posted a photo of killer George Zimmerman in a suit next to a picture of a black youth who turned out to not have been his black target, the juxtaposed images became a right-wing internet meme.  The liberal media, racists suggested,  had conspired against the neighborhood watch captain by using pictures of a young, innocent looking Martin that concealed his threatening nature. (Photo from http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/03/27/when_in_doubt_smear_the_dead_kid.html)


The distance between Stormfront and so-called “mainstream” conservative websites shrank since the shooting. The Drudge Report has devoted itself almost full time to “smearing the dead kid” as David Weigel put it on Slate. 


"Drudge Report" headlines on the Tryavon Martin case that cast the victim of the shooting as the victimizer. (http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/03/27/when_in_doubt_smear_the_dead_kid.html).

Right-wingers made much of the fact that Martin received a suspension from school because officials discovered he possessed an empty bag that once apparently contained marijuana, as if this had any relevance to whether Zimmerman had cause to shoot the young man. (See http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/01/how-a-mix-of-racism-and-our-need-to-see-the-world-as-just-is-slandering-trayvon-martin.html.)   Another Republican right web site, Daily Caller presented a highly distorted sampling from Martin’s Twitter account designed to play to anti-black “gangsta” stereotypes.  As the New York Times reports, the Daily Caller coverage provided readers with:

“ . . . what appears to be a profile photograph he used, in which he was wearing a grill, a type of removable dental jewelry associated with rappers, but did not show or discuss the eight other Twitpic photographs associated with and linked to from the account. Those images — a bag of candy, a pencil drawing of the name ‘Tray’ sketched by his girlfriend; a school lunch; a tattoo of his mother Sybrina’s name; portraits of two girls; a football field; a new pair of sneakers — which remain online even though the associated Twitter account has been closed, paint an image of a fairly ordinary teenager’s life.”


Trayvon Martin wearing a grill. (Image from http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/03/27/when_in_doubt_smear_the_dead_kid.html).







Photos of the correct Trayvon Martin that The Daily Caller chose to not post. (Photos from http://www.myspace.com/t_r_a_y_9/photos/17846860#%7B%22ImageId%22%3A17846860%7D



Frequent TV talking head and short-lived Dancing With the Stars contestant Tucker Carlson established the Daily Caller.  As the New York Times and The Huffington Post write, Daily Caller executive editor David Martosko selectively quoted tweets by Martin that made him appear sullen and foul mouthed.  According to the Times:

“The Daily Caller’s selection of messages posted to that account — which used a nickname featuring a word that is a racial slur on African-Americans, but has been reclaimed by some young people as a term of endearment — includes several riddled with obscenities, but excludes others that might make the author seem more sympathetic, like a poignant update posted last month that read: ‘You never notice da bad until all da good gone away.’”  (See http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/bloggers-cherry-pick-from-social-media-to-cast-trayvon-martin-as-a-menace/). 


Tucker Carlson: the respectable face of Republican right-wing racism.  (Photo from http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/7/2009/09/tucker.jpg). 

Martosko took supposedly incriminating material from Martin’s social media sites that, out of context, made Martin appear dangerous and ignored other tweets and social media postings that made him seem just like any kid with big dreams.  As The Gawker website points out:

“A screenshot of Trayvon's Gmail inbox our source provided us is heartbreaking. Martin apparently used his Gmail account for his college search, and it's filled with emails about upcoming SAT tests and scholarship applications. (‘Trayvon, now is the best time to take the SATs!’) One email included the results of a career aptitude test, our source said. It ‘talked about his interest in aeronautics and stuff.’"

Martosko and Carlson are  “respectable” race-baiters, the later wearing a bow tie rather than the Doc Martens favored by skinheads.  The two got the reaction they wanted from their easily frightened readers.   The Times said:

“One Daily Caller reader commented [about Martin’s photos and tweets]:  ‘Nice young man, huh? He clearly was headed for trouble.’  Another suggested that the language showed that ‘he wasn’t as innocent has you’ve heard.’”

Not as innocent you’ve heard.  Not a “HANDSOME, sweet innocent Colored boy.”

He was black.  He had to be guilty of something.  That’s what Eisner and the right-wing Greek chorus want their audience to think.  Better that than admit that we live in a racist country that sees black life as cheap.

As Tim Wise, a thoughtful analyst of white privilege in America, put it so well on his blog post, too many white people in America today still accept the logic of the Supreme Court’s infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision, that the black man has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.  As he writes:

“This they make clear from their hateful and bigoted musings about Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old black male who made the mistake, in their mind, of forgetting that he had . . . no right to go where he pleased, ‘without molestation,’ no right to be treated like a citizen, indeed like a human being. No rights to due process, to peaceably assemble on a public street, to free speech (which he foolishly tried to exercise by asking his pursuer, Zimmerman, why he was following him), to be free from cruel and unusual punishment (such as extra-judicial execution for being black in a hoodie and thus arousing the suspicions of a paranoid negrophobe). No rights at all.

“And not even the well-established right to self-defense — the very right Zimmerman would now claim for himself, but which apparently did not extend to the young man whose life he ended. And so we hear (whether true or not — it remains to be seen) that Zimmerman had a broken nose and head injuries, that Martin attacked him: never mind that Zimmerman took out after Martin, that Zimmerman accosted Martin and asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood, that, according to witnesses, it was Zimmerman who pinned Martin down. We are supposed to feel sorry for the shooter because even in the light most favorable to him, his victim might have actually fought back!

 “Imagine that, fighting back against a total stranger who attacks you. That Martin would still be alive and Zimmerman would never have suffered the indignity of a broken septum, nor the anger of millions aimed in his direction had he just kept his stupid ass in his SUV like the police told him to do apparently matters not. Because, as some wish to remind us, Trayvon Martin had been suspended for school on suspicion of marijuana possession (an allegation so weak that he received no citation for the incident); and because Trayvon didn’t have a receipt for those Skittles he had in his possession when he was murdered (as if any 17 year old asks for a receipt when they purchase candy like they were going to need it for an expense report); and because Trayvon posed like a gangster on Facebook. Oh no, sorry, wrong Trayvon, but racists are like the Honey Badger–they don’t give a shit.

“The active and putrescent campaign of defamation now in full swing against this dead child is a reminder of just how little black life matters to some. No matter the facts, their deaths are always justified.” (See http://www.timwise.org/2012/03/trayvon-martin-white-america-and-the-return-of-dred-scott/).  


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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Republican Racism Example #49: Making Fun Of "The Coloreds"

Still not convinced that the Tea Party – with all its Birthers and its signs that depict Obama as a monkey and a traitorous secret Muslim – harbors racists?  

Consider one major former Tea Party leader: Mark Williams.

The San Francisco Bay-area hate radio host called President Obama an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug."  In a July 2010 blog post Williams said that African American slavery had been a “great gig.”


 Mark Williams: Right-wing radio host and Tea Party Express leader who suggested that "coloreds" should have been grateful because slavery had been "a great gig."  (Photo from http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-07-18/news/27070288_1_mark-williams-mosque-ground-zero).

Williams served as spokesman for the Tea Party Express. a powerful national movement that has poured millions into the campaigns of right-wing Republicans. He made his comments regarding slavery in a blog post after the NAACP passed a resolution asking Tea Party groups, which formed in opposition to President Obama's 2009 stimulus package and his efforts to reform health care, to expel racists from their organization. Williams wrote his post as a “satirical letter” from “coloreds” to Abraham Lincoln.  As the New York Daily News reported:

“In the voice of slaves, Williams wrote: ‘Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house.
‘We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!’
‘He went on to say blacks don't want taxes cut because "how will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn?’” Williams became a leader of the Tea Party Federation, an umbrella group that aimed to coordinate the actions of 65 different Tea Party organizations across the country.  His Tea Party Express group was kicked out of the federation when the Express organization refused to fire Williams.

The Tea Party Express was founded in California in 2009 by Republican political consultants Howard Kaloogian and Sal Russo.  The group contributed about $250,000 to the failed Delaware Senate campaign of Christine O'Donnell in 2010 and more than $500,000 the same year to support Sharon Angle in her unsuccessful bid against Democrat Harry Reid.  (See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/us/politics/19russo.html)

After his "slavery letter" became news, Williams would not even issue the standard non-apology apology where someone says they are sorry if “anyone is offended.”  Instead he dismissed the controversy as much ado about nothing.   He accused those making an issue of his blog post of “grandstanding.”  Williams later resigned from the Tea Party Express.

Williams also instigated much of anger against the opening of a Muslim community center in Manhattan - the falsely labeled "Ground Zero Mosque." (See http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-07-18/news/27070288_1_mark-williams-mosque-ground-zero). He labelled the proposed center a "temple to terrorists" and said it would be used so Muslims could worship their "monkey god." (See http://voices.washingtonpost.com/right-now/2010/05/mark_williams_the_monkey_god_a.html).

(For more on Birthers, see  http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-29-that-whole_28.html.  For more on right-wing Republican depictions of Obama as an ape or monkey, see http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-40-new-york.html.  For more on the right-wing perception that Obama is a secret Muslim, see http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-35-those.html). 



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.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Republican Racism Example #48: A Christian Radio Station Manager Calls Obama A "Dumb Ni**er"


So much for that whole “love thy neighbor as yourself” thing.

I have repeatedly documented on this blog that rightwing Republican racists are apparently not yet aware that when they post their hateful thoughts on social media or via email that these unpleasant words will  get out to the general public.  Such is the case of Teddy Oyler, a manager of a “Christian” radio station who posted this about Barack Obama in a thread about the president’s recent visit to Oklahoma:

“Obama isn’t that smart he is a dumb ni**er.”

Oyler manages and serves as engineer at “The Gospel Station” at 93.9 FM in Ada, Oklahoma.  The offensive post was first noticed by a regular reader of the Unicorn Booty webpage. The reader contacted Oyler and the station owner and received a hostile reception.  The station owner initially said he had never heard of Oyler.   (See http://unicornbooty.com/blog/2012/03/23/christian-radio-station-manager-calls-president-obama-dumb-nr-on-facebook/). The reader sent this message to the Unicorn Booty website:

“Hey there, I just wanted to let you know about an incident yesterday. Oklahoma Christian Radio Station Manager Teddy Oyler of 93.9 FM called President Obama a ‘dumb ni**er’ on Facebook, we have tried to contact the owner of the radio station about this, but he has blown us off. Not only did he blow it off, he gave a veiled threat to not let this get out. Can you please help in getting the word out?’

Unicorn Booty made a screen capture of the Facebook exchange in question:


As the Addicting Info website reports, “The station’s Facebook page has become inaccessible. The station is owned by South Central Oklahoma Central Broadcasting, which is registered as a non-profit, meaning they pay no corporate taxes on an estimated income of about $1 million.”

A former coworker of Oyler’s, Todd Bridges, told Addicting Info: “I have the added benefit of actually working with Teddy at KIMY back in the mid-90′s, I also can’t fathom anyone making him an on-air personality much less station GM or engineer. If he has reached that level of responsibility and accountability, somebody needs to remove him from those positions immediately before more damage is done. Command of . . . the English language he does NOT possess and that should be high on the list for anyone representing a communication company.” (See http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/03/23/oklahoma-christian-radio-station-general-manager-calls-obama-dumb-nier-image/).

Oyler later posted this brief and less than fulsome apology on his Facebook page.”I made some comments earlier in the week [sic.]  I am sorry.”   (See https://www.facebook.com/tooyler/posts/3537115955163 ).



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.

Republican Racism Example #47: The Surgeon And The Witch Doctor


It quickly became one of the most popular caricatures of President Obama among Tea Partiers during the ferocious debates about health care reform in 2009.

Forwarded on July 29, 2009 in an email sent by Florida neurosurgeon Dr. David McKalip to his fellow Tea Party activists, the photoshopped image depicted Obama as a witch doctor, naked except for a loin cloth, elaborate tribal headdress and body paint.  The president is also shown with a bone through his nose.  The picture is above the phrase “OBAMACARE” with the letter “C” altered to look like the hammer and sickle design on the flag of the Soviet Union. Below that is the phrase, “Coming soon to a clinic near you.”

The image forwarded by Florida neurosurgeon Dr. David McKalip to his Tea Party pals.  This became a favorite picture on Tea Party protest signs in 2009.  (Photo from http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/07/conservative_activist_forwards_racist_pic_showing.php).


In McKalip’s email, above the image, the doctor had typed, “Funny stuff.”  The picture, according to the Talking Points Memo website, was altered from a photograph of a “Papua New Guinea tribesman wearing identical head-dress, feathers, and clothes.”  Soon after McKalip forwarded the image, copies began appearing regularly on the signs of protesting Tea Partiers who objected to Obama health care reform proposals.

McKalip was no mere rank-and-file activist.  He was a member of the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates.  He was also president-elect of the Pinellas County Medical Association. McKalip formed the group “Doctors For Patient Freedom” to stop Obama’s reforms and was active in a defunct anti-tax group called “Cut Taxes Now.”  In a column written for the St. Petersburg Times, McKalip wrote of the proposed health care legislation, “Congress wants to create larger, government-funded programs for health care and more bureaucracy that ration care and impose cookbook medicine.”




Dr. David McKalip compared his racist picture of Obama to the humor on "The Daily Show With John Sttewart."  (Photo  from http://intershame.com/img/art/ctful1248458543-david-mckalip-web.jpg). 

Questioned by TPM Muckraker about the e-mailed picture, McKalip denied that the image was racist.  The witch doctor image illustration, he said, “was expressing concerns that the health-care proposals [made by President Obama] would make the quality of medical care worse in our country.”  McKalip told Talking Points Memo didn’t know who originally created the pciture.  (For more, see http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/07/conservative_activist_forwards_racist_pic_showing.php).  He later said to the Tamp Bay Times that the humor of the image was no different from what is normally seen on The Daily Show With John Stewart.

After a storm of protest, on July 24, 2009 McKalip stepped down from the position of president elect of the country medical group and took a year’s leave of absence from the organization.  He apologized for the email to the organization and to President Obama. "That e-mail depicted such an offense image, and it was completely inappropriate for me to thoughtlessly forward it out," McKalip said in a statement. "A person in my position, who's trying to help patients and trying to do it in organized medicine, needs to think hard about the people he's going to hurt when he sends out images like that. That took a while to sink in." (See http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/article1021553.ece).  Fortunately, that obliviousness was not universal.



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.