Over the course of this interminable election season, there have been instances where racism has seemed to rear its ugly head. But Republicans calling Obama a socialist isn’t one of them.
The “socialist” label that Sen. John McCain and his GOP presidential running mate Sarah Palin are trying to attach to Sen. Barack Obama actually has long and very ugly historical roots.
J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, used the term liberally to describe African Americans who spent their lives fighting for equality. […Snip…]
McCain and Palin have simply reached back in history to use an old code word for black. It set whites apart from those deemed unAmerican and those who could not be trusted during the communism scare.
I’m sorry, but trying to claim the term “socialist” as a Civil Rights Only issue just looks silly. This argument was quite a stretch when it appeared first in the Prospect, and it’s no more rational when presented as an editorial column in the Kansas City Star.
J. Edgar Hoover (who lives in my mind as being crazy as a bedbug) was rabid about Communism, as was a huge portion of the country. (McCarthyism ring any bells?) But Hoover was an all-inclusive paranoiac whose fixation extended to liberals, union organizers, socialists, communists, white people… and yes, black people during the Civil Rights Era as well.
The color he was concerned with was not black. It was red. As in “The Reds“.
Diuguid does get one thing right, though; Hoover and the FBI spent enormous resources trying to link Martin Luther King Jr. to the Communists. They failed.
Shucks, I didn’t know that Obama was a RUSSKIE!?
See how easy it is to start a new Internet rumor 😉
(Of course, there’s only one minor problem with this – Russia is where the Caucasus region is located, and folks from said region are called Caucasians, which in my parallel universe is synonymous with “white people”.)
Interesting, Poli. I just posted a piece yesterday about the S-word. Wound up having to post another piece today about the N-word. I just thought the use of the word socialist was fear mongering, never considered it to be code for “black.” It just never occurred to me. As I said in yesterday’s post, “Good God. I have to keep up.”
I think the accusation of “socialism” is stupid and inaccurate, as progressive taxation has been the law of the land for almost 100 years, and McCain also supported massive government intervention in the economy in the form of the Wall Street bailout.
Racist statements are also stupid and inaccurate, but not every stupid and inaccurate statement is racist. (even if directed at a black person like Sen. Obama.)
It is dangerous to cry wolf about racism, because racism is alive and well in this country, in spite of how far we have come from the days slavery and segregation, and crying wolf blinds us to real instances of it.
Of course “socialism” isn’t a code word for black. It is, however, a code word for “sinister and un-American,” it was used quite liberally against civil rights activists, and it is being used by the McCain camp to suggest that Obama is just, you know, not really one of US. (It was also used for anything that conservatives didn’t like, so fluoridation of water was communist, etc.)
So you’re right, but there’s also a more valid point there than you’re admitting.
If Barack Obama is a “socialist,” so is Adam Smith, the intellectual father of capitalism, who endorsed that radical, socialist idea of progressive taxation.
This whole campaign makes me relieved I don’t actually agree with McCain on much. It would be hard to vote for someone whose campaign has been so intellectually vacuous.
John — a more valid point than I’m admitting? How about different than I was writing about altogether?
Accusing Obama of being a socialist is certainly divisive, and also part of the ongoing attempt to make him “The Other” — a scary radical guy. It’s BS, and it’s wrong. But it’s an entirely different topic, John.
When people randomly toss the race card onto the table, they de-legitimize the term. Crying wolf, if you will. If it’s not called out when it occurs, then it’ll be ignored in the future… when it’s real. Furthermore, putting a valid argument (i.e. they’re “Otherizing” him) together with a false argument (i.e. socialism is a racist term), diminishes the former.