Monday, July 13, 2009

Why Did This T-Shirt Inspire Racist Comments About Malia Obama?

Readers of the right-wing Free Republic web site, perhaps inflamed by a photo of Malia Obama wearing a T-shirt decorated with–horror of horrors!–a peace symbol, contributed vile, racist comments about her, as reported by the Vancouver Sun:

"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."

If you can stomach it, click here for a screen capture of the comments (h/t Liberaland). Free Republic is not an obscure site; the Vancouver Sun refers to it as "one of the prime locations for U.S. Conservative grassroots political discussion and organizing." Site owner Jim Robinson sarcastically responded to one of the few complaints: "The writer has a point. We should steer clear of Obama's children. They can't help it if their old man is an American-hating Marxist pig." After some complaints, the thread was removed, then returned, then removed again. Why would he let such a thread stand at all? To be fair, a minority criticized the comments:

One poster by the name of "fullchroma" wrote, "To Jim Robinson: The recent uptick here in racist vitriol, aimed at Barrack, Michelle and their children has made me wonder if I belong. My objection to Obama has nothing to do with skin tone. Is the ugly stereotype of Conservative racism true?"

Excellent question. Is this a representative sampling of right-wing opinion? If so, the conservative movement will have a difficult time expanding its base and putting candidates in office. Obama's election is a strong indication that the majority of the country has moved beyond these bigoted sentiments.

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