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September 28, 2012 / needhamgrassroots

Racializing the “47%” as an attack on Pres. Obama and Democrats

from The Atlantic — in analysis of a drudge report on “free obamaphones”

Is this video racist?

Let’s start by saying it’s racial. The Obama Phone video belongs to a genre popular on conservative blogs in which poor people, usually black, confirm conservatives’ worst 47-percent fears by saying they can get something for nothing because Obama’s in office. The message is, “Here’s what Obama’s supporters really look like.”

The standout in the category is “Obama money“: Back in October 2009, big lines formed formed for Detroit housing assistance applications after the city underestimated how many people would show up to apply. The scene was chaotic, and local TV reported there were rumors that $3,000 checks would be handed out.

The meme on rightwing blogs became that it was an angry mob in search of “Obama money.” A Detroit radio station interviewed people in line for “Obama money.” One woman says, “I don’t know where he got it from but he’s giving it to us. … O-BA-MA O-BA-MA!” Rush Limbaugh excerpted the audio, saying, “This is the model citizen in Barack Obama’s vision.” He continued:

“These are the people who would be wealthy and rich today were it not for the fact that the achievers of this society since this country was founded stole everything they had. And so Obama looks at these people as victims of an unjust and immoral country, and by God, he’s going to make sure that they think he’s making it all good for them. And they all do. Dumb, uninformed, shockingly, saddeningly stupid, the model citizen for Barack Obama and the Democrat Party.”

Drudge’s only commentary with the Obama Phone video is “OBAMA HAS MY VOTE, HE GAVE ME A FREE PHONE,” but the conservative internet quickly picked up a broader electoral theme: this is what the 47 percent — the people Mitt Romney referred to as “dependent upon government”  at a secretly taped fundraiser — looks like. Some samples:

  • “The 47% that Romney referred to,” Matthew Moosavian tweeted.
  • “The choice in this election! Psss along,” conservative syndicated columnist Cal Thomas tweeted.
  • “Romney’s ‘47% of Americans don’t pay income taxes’ wasn’t a gaffe. Many of those people want their ‘Obamaphone’ from the govt,” Katie Johnson, of the Wisconsin College Republicans, tweeted.
  • “I’m paying for the #ObamaPhone but I can’t have one. The 47% aren’t the victims. We 53% really are!” Rob Barrett tweeted.
  • “Obama voter. G-d help us,” the Steve Malzberg Show tweeted.

OK, but is the video just blatant racism? 

Romney was not the originator of the 47 percent meme; like several other talking points he’s used this election, he appears to have picked it up from conservative blogs. But as “inelegant” as Romney says his comments were, they’re measured, thoughtful, and considerate compared to where they came from. For example, the racists over at Stormfront just love this story. One reader posted the video under the headline “Negro Obama Voter Says ‘Vote for Obama because he gives a free Phone,'” and added, just in case the subtext wasn’t obvious, “First I thought this was a joke but it’s real. Racial inferiority on display.” The aggressively racist responses have included, “The media tries not to show scum like this because then it would be easier to see what non-whites are really like” and “what does this talking baboon mean by free? When I pay my taxes it sure as hell ain’t free.” So, yes, it’s totally and obviously racist according to some racists who rushed to a “White Pride” Internet forum as soon as they heard about it on Rush Limbaugh’s show. To any conservatives offended at being associated with such vile people, let us say it for you: Using one mockable person you found on the Internet to make generalizations about half the country is lazy and stupid.

Read the whole thing:


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