Friday, July 20, 2012

Republican Racism Example #61: A New York Post Writer Says Call An NBA Team The "Brooklyn Niggers"

It’s not much of a secret that the Rupert Murdoch media empire, including Fox News and the New York Post, is either run by racists or the powers there have deliberately chosen to appeal to the lowest common denominator by demonizing African Americans and Latinos.  But New York Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick set a new low for the conglomerate May 4.  Angered by rapper Jay-Z’s part ownership of the newly relocated Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association, the writer suggested in his ‘Equal Time” column that the franchise be renamed the “New York N-----s.”


New York Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick suggests that since the Brooklyn Nets basketball franchise is partly owned by an African American rapper, Jay-Z, the team should be re-dubbed the "New York Niggers" and the cheerleaders the "Brooklyn Hoes."  (Photo from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-J04RSdoihwM/T6k3aPrjOQI/AAAAAAAABNk/ksiNik0NTRI/s1600/mushnick.jpg).  

As is the habit with bigots when they are called on their intolerance, Mushnick later implied that Jay-Z was actually the racist for supposedly promoting stereotypes of African Americans as gangsters, promoting a thuggish lifestyle, and using the “n-word” himself in his lyrics.  The problem is that Mushnick said none of this in his column.  Instead, without proving any context for his remarks, he got in the gutter, wallowing in ugly caricatures of African American culture and hurling racial epithets.   As he wrote:

“As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots -- what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new "urban" home -- why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”  (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/phil-mushnick-jay-z-nets-racist-new-york-post_n_1477927.html).

Only after being called out on his ugly language, did Mushnick rationalize his outburst. "Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I'M the racist?" he later wrote. "Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about."
Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is not exactly a hardcore rapper and he owns only a small percentage of the Nets, who just relocated to Brooklyn from New Jersey.  He has been deeply involved in poverty relief efforts in Africa and was highly active in raising money for victims of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005.  It’s hard to correlate Jay-Z’s career with the depth of Mushnick’s rage at the performer’s status as an NBA owner. 



Sports writers like Phil Mushnick think that African Americans like Jay-Z should stay at the back of the sports bus and out of the ownership suites. (Photo from http://static7.businessinsider.com/image/4fa409d169bedd7161000018-400-300/new-york-post-phil-mushnick-brooklyn-nets-new-york-n-.jpg).  
Perhaps Mushnick, who writes for the highly conservative, pro-Republican Party Murdoch-owned Post, doesn’t like Jay-Z’s politics.  The rapper strongly supported President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.   Perhaps Mushnick doesn’t like African Americans moving to the front of the bus in pro sports.  There are 122 professional sports franchises in the United States, as the Philadelphia Tribune reported last year, and just one black majority owner. Michael Jordan, who owns a majority stake in the Carolina Bobcats, is the lone standout.  Sports ownership remains a white man’s club in spite of the fact that 65 percent of players in the National Football League are African Americans and an incredible 80 percent of NBA players are black.  (See http://www.phillytrib.com/commentaryarticles/item/1164-122-teams-one-black-major-owner.html).   At the executive level, Americans sports are almost as Jim Crow as they were in the time of Jackie Robinson.
Or perhaps Mushnick’s racist rant had more to do with the politics of the New York Post’s owner, Rupert Murdoch.  Hostility to African Americans has become a core value in the right-winger’s media holdings.
Witness the March 18, 2009 editorial cartoon in the Post which depicted a police officer holding a smoking gun near a bleeding, dead chimpanzee.  “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” the cop says.  The cartoon appeared soon after an incident in which a pet chimpanzee in Connecticut had attacked the friend of its owner and following a contentious debate over President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill.  The chimp was clearly meant to represent the president.  It also provided a disturbing insight into cartoonist Sean Delomas’ violent political fantasies regarding the nation’s first black president.  Delomas, by the way, has a history of dimwitted, racist and homophobic cartoons at the newspaper. (See http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-40-new-york.html). 



A 2009 New York Post cartoon portraying President Barack Obama as a dead chimpanzee.  (Image from  http://gawker.com/5155855/ten-vile-cartoons-from-sean-delonas). 
Since Obama’s election in November 2008 Murdoch’s Fox News channel has repeatedly hyped stories aimed at frightening its overwhelmingly white audience (only 1.38 percent of Fox viewers are black, according to a 2010 Neilsen survey).  Around the clock, Fox has aired segments about the miniscule New Black Panther Party, community groups with high minority membership like ACORN, and mellow black rappers like Common.  The stories all have a common theme – dark, violent people seeking to corrupt the political process and take the country away from whites.  In one infamous incident, Fox repeatedly aired a misleadingly edited tape of a speech by a black Department of Agriculture official named Shirley Sherrod that made it appear that she used her office to harm white farmers.  The he speech was actually about racial reconciliation.  (See http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/07/27/109823/fox-viewers-african-american/ and http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-17-fox-news.html). 
 Fox primetime host Sean Hannity used to give extended airtime on his radio program to a Neo-Nazi named Hal Turner, without critical commentary. (see http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-18-sean.html).  Recently he has extended the same service to George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin earlier this year.  Hannity has not given similar airtime to any African American facing criminal charges.  (See http://www.examiner.com/article/gods-plan-might-include-10-years-for-zimmerman-after-doing-stupid-interview?cid=rss). 
Former Fox host Glenn Beck called the mostly African American victims of Hurricane Katrina “scumbags” (see http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-45-glenn-beck.html).  Finally, Bill O’Reilly in 2007 expressed astonishment, after visiting the famous Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem that among the mostly black patrons there “wasn't any kind of craziness at all . . . There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M.F.-er, I want more iced tea’ . . . It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense that people were sitting there and they were ordering and just having fun." (see http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/09/26/oreilly.race/index.html). 



Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was stunned in 2007 to discover that the mostly black patrons of Sylvia's, a famous soul food restaurant in Harlem, don't shout out, "Motherfucker, I want ice tea," but act like polite white people.  (Photo from http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/09/26/oreilly.race/index.html). 
Fox News occasionally presents an on-air black face, like that of reporter Juan Williams to conceal its racism from its reality-denying demographic. But this is mere media minstrelsy.  Want proof?  Mushnick was not suspended or fired for his hate speech.  One must assume that the New York Post endorses the idea of calling the Nets the "Niggers."  Perhaps we should call the Post the New York Klansman.  




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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Republican Racism Example #60: An Arizona Talk Show Host Calls Obama The "First Monkey President"


According to right-wing radio hater Barbara Espinosa, it’s not possible for her to be a racist because she has a Latino last name.

She insists that she is no bigot even though she referred to President Barack Obama as a “monkey” during a radio broadcast. Incidentally, when she compared the first African American president to a lower primate during a June 17 broadcast of her Hair On Fire radio talk show on KFNX, Arizona Republican chair Tom Morrissey was the guest and he never uttered a word of protest.


According to this right-wing talk show host, you can't be a racist if your last name is "Espinosa," even if you call a black man a "monkey. (Photo from http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/19/arizona-radio-host-voted-for-the-white-guy-because-obama-is-a-monkey/).

Fielding a call from a listener who described Obama as “the guy with the rabbit ears,” and who asked why anyone would possibly back the “idiot” in the White House, Espinosa responded, “I call him a monkey.  I don’t believe in calling him the first black president.  I call him the first monkey president.”   She then clarified that, “I voted for the white guy myself.”  (See http://newsone.com/2021269/barbara-espinosa-obama-monkey/).

After receiving a flurry of national attention, Espinosa said that her choice of words was inspired by a cartoon image of Obama as a monkey.  “The comment was prompted by the Google image cartoon that was sent to me,” she posted on her website, American Freedom by Barbara.  “With a last name of Espinosa, I’m anything but racist.”   She also defended her on-air remarks at her blog site:

“To set the record straight I did use the word monkey and Obama in the same sentence. Yes I did say I voted for the white guy. Unless there has been a takeover of America and free speech is no longer allowed and I can be put to death for making a remark, I refuse to take the fifth.” (See http://www.mediaite.com/online/radio-host-barbara-espinosa-stands-by-calling-barack-obama-a-monkey/).


An ad back when Phoenix AM radio station KFNX was proud to broadcast Barbara Espinosa,  They later replaced her with higher-rated racists. (Photo from http://www.mediaite.com/online/radio-host-barbara-espinosa-stands-by-calling-barack-obama-a-monkey/).

As noted, GOP chair Morrissey chose to say nothing during Espinosa’s racist rant, but instead only offered praise for the patriotism of Obama’s opposition.  “Those of us — and I believe this and it’s bias — those of us that do not support Barack Obama and act upon our love of country are motivated by that,” Morrissey said. “That’s why I say we’re patriots. I believe he is as wrong as wrong can be, and I hope that there’s enough people that think like we do — this group — so that we can defeat what I call, it’s like a national sickness.” (See http://www.mediaite.com/online/az-gop-chair-remained-silent-when-radio-host-barbara-espinosa-called-obama-monkey-on-air/).


Arizona GOP chair Tom Morrissey was a guest on the "Hair On Fire" radio show when host Barbara Espinosa called President Obama a "monkey."  Morrissey said nothing about the racist outburst.  (Photo from http://www.mediaite.com/online/az-gop-chair-remained-silent-when-radio-host-barbara-espinosa-called-obama-monkey-on-air/).  

If not a tacit endorsement of Espinosa’s racism, Morrissey’s silence doesn’t exactly represent a profile in courage.  Apparently the public outrage didn’t move Arizona Republicans to denounce her, but it did lead to KFNX to cancel her show.  The station tried to disingenuously suggest that the broadcast in question did not originate in their studios, but evidence suggests otherwise.  Here’s the KFNX statement:

“Barbara Espinosa does not host a show anymore on KFNX 1100, so the information is dated. She has not aired a show at KFNX for nearly a month. She currently hosts an internet show on Blogtalk radio to the best of our knowledge.

KFNX management, staff and sponsors do not endorse or agree with her viewpoints. Ms. Espinoza (like all KFNX Hosts) does have the First Amendment Right to say what she believes, but KFNX Host Contracts includes a clause which prohibits on-air slander of people.

KFNX no longer has a relationship with Ms. Espinosa, and again certainly does not support her comments. If those comments were made on KFNX, we would have terminated our relationship with her. We certainly apologize for our former relationship with Ms. Espinosa and are deeply sorry she said offensives things.

We do not know when the comments were made, but it is possible they were made in the past while airing on KFNX, or maybe could have been said on her current internet show on Blogtalk. We also do not know who posted the YouTube video. It is an edited video (and not dated), so it is unclear what context the improper comments were made.” (See http://jim.tarber.net/?p=220). 

Lest you be moved by KFNX’s act of contrition, the Phoenix station continues to carry other right-wing racist and anti-Semitic hosts such as Neil Boortz, who in 2006 called the mostly black victims of Hurricane Katrina  “just debris” (see http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2006/fall/overheard)  and in 2007 commented that, “Muslims don't eat during the day during Ramadan. They fast during the day and eat at night. Sort of like cockroaches." (See http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2007/winter/overheard).


Right-wing host Neal Boortz, whose show is still carried on KFNX, tries to prove he's not racist by sitting next to Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain before the New Hampshire primary.  Boortz once compared Muslims to "cockroaches."  (Photo from http://www.boortz.com/s/photos/). 

They also carry Michael Savage’s show.  Samplings of Savage’s thoughtful commentary on world events include calling the so-called “Developing” or “Third World” the “Turd World,” describing fellow talk show host Jerry Springer (who is Jewish), a “hooknose,” demeaning inner city residents as “ghetto slime” and charging that Latinos “breed like rabbits.”  Considering the other hosts still carried by the station, one wonders what line Espinosa crossed exactly. (See http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2004/spring/the-rating-game). 


Another KFNX host, Michael Savage, calls Jews like Jerry Springer "hooknoses," and says that Latinos "breed like rabbits."   (Photo from http://media.photobucket.com/image/michael%20savage/lizardjulia/savage-sm.jpg?o=11).

Comparing African Americans to apes and monkeys has been a recurring theme with white racists in the Western world since Europeans first encountered these primates in Africa starting in the 1500s and especially since the publication of Darwin’s evolutionary theories in the mid-19th century.  The comparison is meant to suggest that Africans and their descendents represent a lower stage of evolution that whites.  (For more on this theme in racism, see http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/african/3-coon/6-monkey/index.html).  







Comparing Obama to an ape or monkey has become a favorite theme of the Republican right.  Above is just a small sampling o f images circulating on the internet.  Espinosa, sadly, is not exceptional in today's GOP.  (Above images of Obama from http://thenakedtruthinaconfusedworld.blogspot.com/2011/05/usa-obama-deception-why-cornel-west.html and http://thenakedtruthinaconfusedworld.blogspot.com/2011/05/usa-obama-deception-why-cornel-west.html and http://www.columnpk.com/president-obama-monkey-cartoon/)

Espinosa is despicable and deserves her unemployment.  She is, however, only par for the course on talk radio. And the mainstream Republican Party is happy to accommodate these white supremacists by keeping quiet when these bigots rave.

(For more, see http://wonkette.com/475902/arizona-talk-radio-gal-who-called-obama-monkey-has-excellent-reason-why-she-is-not-racist and http://www.americanfreedombybarbara.com/). 



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.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Republican Racism Example #59: Kentucky Tea Partiers Sell, "Yup, I'm A Racist" T-Shirts


As Tommy Christopher points out at the Mediate.com website, Tea Partiers don’t do irony very well.  The Kentucky Tea Party tried very hard to make a tongue-in-cheek joke, though, at rally for the group July 3, 2011 and during this year’s pre-July 4 conclave in Lexington, selling t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Yup, I’m a Racist” on the front.  A list of reasons why the right-wingers feel they are being accused of racism is listed on the back.  

Among the reasons the t-shirt creator thinks the right-wingers are unfairly accused of white supremacist thinking is that they supposedly:

“ . . . support the Constitution
   . . .  support free speech
   . . . support the right to bear arms
  . . .  support the Bill of Rights
   . . . support Capitalism
    . . .  support No permanent bailouts
    . . . support closing borders
   . . . support our military
   . . . support the Tea Party
    . . . support Jesus Christ as my savior”



The Kentucky Tea Party booth selling, "Yup, I'm A Racist" t-shirts at a July 3, 2011 Lexington gathering.  Note the Fox News corporate sponsorship.  (Photo from http://wonkette.com/448772/kentucky-tea-party-sells-patriotic-yup-im-a-racist-fourth-of-july-t-shirts).


There are several goofy things about this list. First of all, as Christopher notes, none of the issues mentioned on the back of the t-shirt has anything to do with why people think Teabaggers are racists (except maybe their highly selective concern about illegal immigration from Mexico).  It was George W. Bush, a Republican, who pushed for the bank bailouts. The first four items repeat themselves – the right to bear arms and the right of speech are mentioned in the Bill of Rights which are part of the Constitution.  Each aspect is mentioned as if they are separate items. I’m hoping that the Tea Party sorts know that the Bill of Rights is in the Constitution, but given some of their other misunderstandings of that document, I’m afraid that’s wishful thinking.

Christopher’s reaction to this t-shirt bears repeating:

“The t-shirt . . . includes a Top Ten Straw Man Arguments for why some accuse the Tea Party of racism, including gems like ‘I support Jesus Christ as my savior,’ a curious inversion of that relationship. The shirts might have some resonance if they included things like, ‘Because some knuckleheads dressed the President as a witch doctor,’ or ‘Because most of us are white…just like a Code Pink rally’ (For more, see http://www.mediaite.com/online/video-interview-with-kentucky-tea-party-yup-im-a-racist-t-shirt-vendor/)



A closeup of man wearing the "Yup, I'm A Racist" shirt at the Kentucky Tea Party Rally in 2011.  (Photo from http://wonkette.com/448772/kentucky-tea-party-sells-patriotic-yup-im-a-racist-fourth-of-july-t-shirts).


Christopher, unfortunately, implies that the left has exaggerated the degree to which the Tea Party is racist.  Christopher chides the left for “tarring the entire movement based on the actions of a relative minority.” Christopher, however, includes in his post a video of a newspaper columnist interviewing the people running the Kentucky booth who admit that they are not worried about preventing illegal immigration from Canada (the point of origin for about 6 percent of undocumented workers), perhaps because Canada is seen as a “white” country, as opposed to Mexico. 

This blog has provided several reasons why the accusation of Tea Party racism is true.  For instance, there’s the extraordinarily high percentage of Tea Baggers who believe, in spite of the mountain of documentary and anecdotal evidence to the contrary that Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, is a secret, illegal alien from Africa.  A 2011 poll showed that 45 percent of Tea Partiers still held on to this ugly racist myth, as opposed to a still-astoundingly high 25 percent of all Americans.  (For more, see http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20056061-503544.html).  

The stubborn insistence that Obama was born in Africa, in spite of the repeated presentation of his Hawaiian birth certificate, even in the so-called long-form, stems from the white supremacist notion that a black man cannot legitimately be president of the United States.  (See my earlier essay, “That Whole Stupid ‘Birther’ Thing at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-29-that-whole_28.html). 

The Republican Party is dominated by the Tea Party in Deep South states like Alabama and Mississippi, where a shocking percentage of Republicans believe that interracial marriage should be illegal – 21 percent in Alabama and 29 percent in Mississippi (12 percent and 17 percent of Republicans in those states, respectively, were undecided about “miscegenation.”  See my post “Those White GOP Voters in Alabama and Mississippi” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-35-those.html).

One national tea party leader, a right-wing hate radio host, Mark Williams, suggested in a internet posting that slavery “had been a great gig” and referred to African Americans as “coloreds.”  (See my post, “Making Fun of the ‘Coloreds’” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-49-making-fun.html).  A Republican Tea Party leader in California, Jules Manson, called for the murder of Barack Obama and his “monkey children” in another blog post.  (See “A California Republican Says Murder The President And His ‘Monkey President” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-25.html).  

And, of course, signs at Tea Party rallies regularly depict Obama as a monkey or an ape, or have the president’s picture decorated with phrases like “Monkey See. Monkey Do.” (See a collection of racist Tea Party signs at http://likeawhisper.wordpress.com/anti-obama-protest-signs/).   This nonsense happens too often, and the other Tea Partiers are too indifferent to this explicit racism, for this to represent marginal sentiment within the movement.

The Tea Baggers selling the “Yup, I’m A Racist” t-shirts also belie their claims of non-racism with other products sold at their Lexington rally booth.  Another t-shirt sold at the Tea Party rally booth stupidly proclaims, ‘Everything I Need to Know About Islam, I Learned on 9/11.”  Which is kind of like saying, “Everything I Need to Know About Christians, I Learned During the Holocaust” or “Everything I Need to Know About Catholics and Protestants I Learned in Northern Ireland” or “Everything I Need To Know About Europeans and Their Descendents I Learned From the Transatlantic Slave Trade.”  You won’t, of course, find those t-shirts at a Tea Party rally because the hostility among Tea Partiers to Islam, a religion with a billion wildly diverse adherents worldwide, has less to do with the religion’s supposed tendency towards violence, but because most Muslims are seen by American whites as people of color. (See http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/07/06/991960/--Yep-I-m-A-Racist-Tea-Party-Tee-Shirts-Now-with-a-side-of-Islamophobia).

That anti-Muslim t-shirt also displays another ugly aspect of the modern Tea Party-dominated Republican Party: its intellectual bankruptcy.  The modern right is astoundingly incurious about the world, whether the topic is science, other religions, or the history of other peoples.  One atypical incident, the 911 attacks, are all the happily ignorant Tea Party crowd needs to know about 20 percent of the world’s population. 

In their heart of hearts, Tea Partiers suspect they can’t win a argument on logic.  Hence, Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin’s constant repetition of the phrase “lock and load” referring to political campaigns (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-kaplan/gabrielle-giffords-shooting_b_806232.html) or another Tea Bagger heroine Sharron Angle’s reference to “Second Amendment remedies” as a “cure” for the “Harry Reid problem” in her failed 2010 campaign against the Senate majority leader (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/16/sharron-angle-floated-2nd_n_614003.html). 

Tea Baggers love talking about using guns against their political opponents because they know they are losing the argument on issues like gay marriage and multi-culturalism on factual grounds and have only violence and bullying left as weapons.  Hence, another Tea Party product sold at the Kentucky rally proves the movement’s pathetically proud anti-intellectualism. 

The same booth with the anti-Islamic and the “Yup, I’m a Racist” t-shirts also sold stickers with a reference to Psalms 109:8, which reads, “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.”  The next verse in Psalms, by the way, reads, “May his children be orphans and his wife a widow.”  Just like Sarah Palin lied, claiming that putting gun sights on the Congressional districts of vulnerable Democrats like Gabby Giffords in Arizona carried no threat or incitement to violence (Giffords was later shot), some Republicans have dubiously claimed that the citation of this verse by right-wing activists just refers to the hope President Obama’s days in office will be cut off because of electoral failure, not death. 


<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> The variety of products sold to right-wingers emblazoned with "Psalms 109:8", which some use to pray for President Obama's death.  This verse and the next read: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office.  Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."  (Photo from http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/11/19/70223/pray-obama-psal/). 

That what Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal incredulously claimed when he sent an anti-Obama email blast with the verse in question in January of this year.  (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/20/mike-oneal-obama-email_n_1218601.html).  Teddy bears, t-shirts, and bumperstickers featuring the “imprecatory prayer” have been hot sellers among rightwingers.  (See http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/11/19/70223/pray-obama-psal/).   The argument that is simply an innocent prayer for Obama to lose the election has been thoroughly undermined by the public sermons of Jim Ammerman, a leader of far right-wing Christians who have been praying for the president’s doom, citing the verse in Psalms, since 2008. According to the Talk2Action website:

“Ammerman's more recent statements include a ‘suggestion’ in his September 2008 CFGC newsletter that the four democratic senators who were then candidates for president -- Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and, of course, Barack Obama -- should be arrested and executed for voting against making English the official language of the United States. He has also advocated armed violence against law enforcement officials.” (For more, see http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/3/23/10542/1792/).

Since the Psalms 109:8 bumpersticker is just part of a general right-wing embrace of extremely violent rhetoric, perhaps it is not specifically racist, even if it is aimed at an African American president in a country with a long and tortured history of white violence against blacks.  That doesn’t make this bumpersticker any less scary or the Kentucky Tea Party’s claim that the “Yup, I’m A Racist Bumpersticker” is ironic any more believable.




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.