I've always found it rather unsettling that the anonymity of the internet causes what would otherwise be normal discourse and debate into heated, hate-filled rhetoric that one would most likely never dare to say face to face for fear of physical assault.
With the ascent of our country's first African-American president after our sordid history of racism however, never has it struck me more that the progeny of the cowards who once wore hoods and robes are now trading them in for the 21st century version of their shameful furtiveness.
We've seen it bubbling up more and more. What may have started as a moron with a Curious George doll at a Palin campaign rally or the accusations of President Obama being a secret Muslim has escalated to deadly violence and frightening vitriol on conservative websites without the slightest hint of disgrace or remorse.
Case in point. Free Republic.
The cowardice to write such things while hiding behind a keyboard used as a hood and a username used as a robe is immeasurable. This isn't about disagreeing with the administration's policies. This isn't worrying about national security. This isn't about the threat of terrorism. This is hostility and disdain for an 11 year old girl purely based on the color of her skin. This is about the overt racism displayed at the President of the United States and his family."A typical street whore." "A bunch of ghetto thugs." "Ghetto street trash." "Wonder when she will get her first abortion."These are a small selection of some of the racially-charged comments posted to the conservative 'Free Republic' blog Thursday, aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama's 11-year-old daughter Malia after she was photographed wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign on the front.The thread was accompanied by a photo of Michelle Obama speaking to Malia that featured the caption, "To entertain her daughter, Michelle Obama loves to make monkey sounds."
And the bigotry doesn't stop at the faceless ones living under rocks. Now the ugly scars and boils filling in a Dorian Gray's portrait of the GOP are visible for all to see. Chip Saltsman, a candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent out CDs containing the song,"Barack the Magic Negro." South Carolina GOP activist Rusty DePass joked that an escaped gorilla from a local zoo was an "ancestor" of Michelle Obama.
Speaking of primates, let's not forget about the editorial cartoon depicting police officers shooting a monkey and lamenting that "they'll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill." And most recently there's Audra Shay, a candidate to chair the Young Republicans National Federation, who "LOL"ed when a Facebook friend ranted that they had to "take this country back from all of these mad coons." Further review of her Facebook account and her poor attempts to scrub her page found more than a few racist and homophobic comments.
By the way, she won her election.In October 2008, in the wake of news that an effigy of Sarah Palin was being hung outside an affluent Hollywood home as an offensive Halloween decoration, Shay replied, returning to the “LOL” style that she employed after the “coons” comment: “What no ‘Obama in a noose? Come on now, its just freedome [sic] of speech, no one in Atlanta would take that wrong! Lol.”She picked up the thread again the next morning with a clarification and a new insight. “Apparently I could not spell last night. I am wondering if the guys with the Palin noose would care if we had a bunch of homosexuals in a noose.”
Apparently, this is the future of the Republican party, continuing to elect not only racists, but overt ones at that. While the anonymous "hooded" cowards of the Internet feel free to spew their intense hate of "the other" without fear of repercussion, their elected Grand Dragons and Imperial Wizards further marginalize the 21st Century Whigs.