Xenophobia Judo (updated)

Last week the Sacramento County GOP, which is the local party for the state capital of the most populous state in the union, had image below on their the official website!

If you had any doubt that the GOP was promoting the message “Obama = Arab = Muslim = Terrorist!” this should put your doubts to rest. (To their credit, the state level party quickly had the material removed but that doesn’t undercut the broader campaign.)

One minor personal consequence of this tactic is that I am unable to go canvassing door-to-door in battleground states for either campaign. Can you imagine the reception I would encounter knocking on doors for the Obama campaign in West Virginia? Or how about ringing doorbells for McCain in Missouri?

Sure, I might be able to overcome the xenophobia and fear of certain voters, but that would make the exercise more about me than the candidate, with each minute spent explaining who I am taken away from time avalable to make the case for a particular campaign. No, that would be immensely selfish on my part.

Unfortunately, this leaves me with only one option if I want to participate in face-to-face persuasion of voters. I could pretend to be working for the opposition.

This was the game Osama Bin Laden seems to have played when created the appearance of favoring Kerry for President. This action was consequential, moving the national polls 2% in Bush’s favor at the time. Given the slim margin by which Kerry lost in Ohio, and therefore lost the election. one can spin a scenario in which bin Laden’s statement guaranteed Bush his second term.

Xenophobia judo is a fairly distasteful tactic to use. I’m hoping that voters recognize and punish rabidly racist campaining as tacky if nothing else.

Still, I want to put both parties on notice. If this happens again, I will get together 100 people from whatever group you are demonizing and we will join and actively campaign for your candidate. We will show up en masse in your campaign office, hand out leaflets, knock on doors, and publicly endorse you in every venue we can. We will be a more perfect karmic punishment for you than any Dante ever devised for the sinners in the Inferno. Consider yourself warned.

Update:

Since some of you are questioning my judgment in deciding not to go door to door, I want to give you a bit more context. I didn’t just make the decision not to go door-to-door in a vacuum. It’s based in part on my regular experiences with racism, but also on discussions with a series of friends who know a fair amount about local politics in these places. One of them is an older guy who has run campaigns in this region for 30 years, another is a younger guy who works with different groups as a consultant, helping them with GOTV (get out the vote) activities. They both agreed that I’d do more harm than good in the context of this election. All the others I’ve asked shared the same opinion.

82 thoughts on “Xenophobia Judo (updated)

  1. I NEED TO CLARIFY…I AM NOT AGAINST OBAMA…I agree that there is no reason to connect him to Ayers and I don’t have anything bad to say about him. I was merely agreeing that Ayers and the Weathermen were horrible people, as PH alluded to. Again – I was saying that there is no legitimate reason to connect him to Obama in anyway.

  2. 51 · Amitabh said

    I NEED TO CLARIFY…I AM NOT AGAINST OBAMA…I agree that there is no reason to connect him to Ayers and I don’t have anything bad to say about him. I was merely agreeing that Ayers and the Weathermen were horrible people, as PH alluded to. Again – I was saying that there is no legitimate reason to connect him to Obama in anyway.

    sure, but it’s important to draw a line here and call BS as Jay did above. The whole “White House, Congress differ on shape of earth” way of presenting events poisons the discourse.

  3. 52%-38%??? A blowout appears to be in the works. The slight McCain uptick over the last few days appears to be either statistical noise or a dead cat bounce. Nothing’s working for McCain, not even McCarthyism or Racism, two pillars of American life.

    What happened? Well, the cold wars over, socialism (except for the one designed to save capitalism) is ideologically dead so the Ayers/Socialist charge has no resonance. Nothing kills great civil rights movements (like anti-communism) more than winning. So now republicans have descended into the folly of goalpost moving, redefining socialism like race theorists redefine racism in a desperate attempt to keep their movement alive.

    Worse still, McCain and Palin have gotten way too close to the hyperbole and racism, making them appear unpresidential during very serious times and scaring off independents like Pat Buchanan did with his godawful convention speech during bush v clinton. Southern Strategies are much more effective when done under the table, if for no other reason than the candidate needs to maintain an appearance of respectability. McCain looks like an amateur.

    During the debate, McCain’s attempted to play the race card on Obama, using the Clintonian tactic of accusing Obama and his surrogates (John Lewis), of playing the race card on him. McCain was practically hyperventilating, like Bill Clinton and Gerry Ferraro before him, as if he were the victim of racism, trying to position himself like those innocent duke lax players.

    I knew he’d go there. He had done this with great effect earlier in the campaign. Obama gave him an opening, using his patented line that the republicans will say he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills” (itself problematic, but ultimately prescient, because at the time it was a bush doctrinesque pre-emptive stike) but then sloppily associated McCain with these tactics (““So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me”) tactics which, at the time at least, McCain had not engaged in. McCain pounced and Obama was forced to backtrack (“Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue”).

    McCain brilliantly linked Clinton to the race-baiting charge, accusing Obama of baiting the former President, knowing there was no way Obama could call out Clinton on his racism without risking irreparable harm to his party, and blowing the election. Clinton himself, perhaps in cahoots with the McCain campaign, re-appeared just 3 days later, and without prompting from the reporter, bought up the deadly issue of race, declaring himself not a racist and by implication Obama Shartonesque. Obama had no choice but to sit and take it. McCain won that round.

    But this time around he was prepared. He defended the gist of Lewis’ charges while gently rebuking some of his more hyperbolic comparisons as “inappropriate.” It was the perfect nuance and balance for the post racial candidate, especially since it allowed him to continue to call out Plain on her similar overheated rhetoric. McCain continued to sputter and hyperventilate, playing the victim, and ironically, looking like the tawana brawley candidate. Obama had won.

    So here we are. Rev Wright will almost certainly make a reappearance, but with Obama tending to his sick Grandmother that’ll have to wait, lest McCain look like a total ass. But Obama is completely humanized to most Americans, and his visit to his grandmother will only help reinforce this. The upcoming images of an angry black preacher will no more be associated with him than Jerry Falwell is with McCain. Extraordinary development.

  4. Ennis,

    As you said, this particular exercise is not to the moment to teach the inefficacy of race as a category. So like you, i play it safe when we knock on doors in Ohio. I vetoed everyone else so that the pink parent and pinkish child in our family knock on doors separately from the brown parent (me) and the brown(er) child. It is terrible–a self-inflicted segregation–but so far we’ve been able to keep the focus on election issues rather than engage in diatribes and distractions to do with miscegenation.

    If anyone is still reading this thread, i’d be interested in your thoughts; I’m capable of switching fond convictions :) .

    (And about those undecideds, please read David Sedaris in the New Yorker.)

  5. Southern Strategies are much more effective when done under the table, if for no other reason than the candidate needs to maintain an appearance of respectability.

    And there’s republican politics in a nutshell for you.

  6. I’m not going to engage all the other stuff here, since others have already done it very effectively, but to PH’s comments about student records at Harvard and Columbia… As a point of fact, student records ARE “sealed.” They’re not public documents. You couldn’t FOIA them, for example. Obama wouldn’t have had to request that they be private.

  7. 40 · Patty Hearst tells all said

    Many whites (and some non-whites) honestly think he’s a first-class fraud with a white-hating wife and a white-baiting minister friend of 20 years, and murderous friends who really haven’t repented that much however you wash them out, and a family that has not been interviewed at all about him, and records at Columbia and Harvard he ordered sealed. They have also counted his lies, some of them humongous. They cringe in revulsion and digust when he accepts the term “messiah” for himself and refers to himself as president.

    Where is our resident expert in semiotics, RahulD, and his trusty dictionary when you need him?

  8. So like you, i play it safe when we knock on doors in Ohio. I vetoed everyone else so that the pink parent and pinkish child in our family knock on doors separately from the brown parent (me) and the brown(er) child.

    I don’t think this was a cool thing to do to your kids…segregating them like that…better for you to have not gone door-canvassing at all if you felt that way. Or left the kids at home. Kids will get these discriminatory messages from society anyway, they don’t need their parents to reinforce (or introduce) them.

  9. Amitabh, point taken. And this reminds me yet again of the pitfalls of self-disclosure on the internet. You had no way of knowing that one child is a baby 12 months old, and the other is technically nine but has been around since my first year of grad school–when i was barely twenty–and so feels like an extremely intelligent and cool younger sib. Plus he’s learned from sitting in on so many poco seminars/strategy sessions/debate watching parties when i couldn’t pay for babysitting. I don’t think he has any doubts about the way his parents feel about anthropological or cultural applied “race” judgments–especially since we live in a rather Utopian college town. And we laugh about this minor subterfuge as a form of minority subversiveness–our version of Brer Rabbit, if you will.

    But your comment totally reminded me that there is an extremely curious 12-month-old in our family as well and that in as early as a couple of months, we’ll have to be extra careful to make sure she learns right. Thanks.

  10. A blowout appears to be in the works.

    Hell yeah! Obama supporters are wary of celebrating just yet, but I don’t believe they have anything to fear. McCain faces an overwhelming defeat.

    Obama supporters will get what they want and deserve – they’ll get it hard and good.

    M. Nam

  11. Maya, thanks for your nice response.

    MoorNam, I am 99% planning on voting for Obama…if you have the time, energy, and desire to tell me why McCain would be a better choice FOR THE COUNTRY AND/OR MY PERSONAL LONG TERM INTERESTS, I would be willing to keep an open mind and consider your points (although at this point it is very unlikely I’d change my mind). Please factor in his attitude towards the Iraq War if you choose to answer.

  12. Amitabh writes: >>if you have the time, energy, and desire to tell me why McCain would be a better choice FOR THE COUNTRY AND/OR MY PERSONAL LONG TERM INTERESTS, I would be willing to keep an open mind and consider your points

    Amitabh,

    We’re offered the choice between a senile wannabe fundamentalist warmonger alongside a dim-witted has-been cutie vs a class-warfare socialist with a rabidly racist past and a racist wife alongside a senile goofball who still thinks in cold-war terms. Pick your poison.

    MoorNam, I am 99% planning on voting for Obama

    You’re voting for Obama? I’m voting for Obama as well!! Considering that the US is in for a painful period ahead of it, I want the more poisonous ideology to win this election so that it gets a bad rap. Among the two (fundamentalism vs classism), I feel class warfare has consumed a lot more lives in the last century (100 million plus) and destroyed at least three generations in more than hundred countries.

    May the winning candidate lose.

    M. Nam

  13. Jay:>>Okay, evidence please…waiting

    You can start here, and then work your way down the links.

    Now I know that there are some desis who don’t mind racism as long as it’s not directed against them. Michelle certainly has not said anything against desis. And most likely, she won’t either. She seems to be indifferent to anything that’s not black or white.

    But she’ll open the door. And once one of the future candidates presents himself/herself as rabidly anti-desi, there’s precious little you can do about it.

    M. Nam

    PS: On the flip side, Fox News channel will be even more fun to watch the next four years! Man. What a relief from being defensive for eight years to going offensive! Whew! Obama’s and democrats’ life will be hell as it is – and FNC will make it worse!

  14. Moornam,

    Thanks for the link. You believe Michelle Obama’s senior thesis at Princeton is evidence that she is “racist.” You provided a link (at “rightpundists.com”) that you believe supports your claim. Thank you. Now everyone can read the link and make up their mind not only about the kind of person that Michelle Obama is, but also about the mindset of one Moornam. Just to let you know, I don’t believe her senior thesis supports your claim that she is racist. But that’s just crazy me…

  15. Jay:>>Okay, evidence please…waiting You can start here, and then work your way down the links.

    Moornam,

    I did and I found nothing militant or offensive about them.

    Throughout my last 20 years I have gone through a firm belief in so many different….from compassionate sikhism to extremist sikhism to communism to atheism to nihilism to capitalism to I-really-dont-care ism.As a 10 year old kid having witnessed the horror of 1984 riots ,my leaning towards ‘militant sikhism’ was natural at that time….It would have been so easy for me to write articles at that time wondering about my place in India as a Sikh and whether I would always be marginal or persecuted .If you were to pull those out and brandish me as anti-India or anti-Hindu,I would be left with no choice but to brandish you as anti-intellect ,pro-moron etc etc.

    Time passes, you go through life ,your influences change from your family to community to neighborhood to college to workplace and a whole new different country.You evolve(or devolve ,or whatever).You change.

    First of all I dont think Michelle Obama is anti-white…..even if she was,I really wouldnt care .I’d chose a smart foe over an idiotic friend any day.

  16. If this story is accurate, then campaigning for the McCain camp can also elicit violent reactions. No word if this is a “hate crime.”

  17. 70 · CMF said

    If this story is accurate, then campaigning for the McCain camp can also elicit violent reactions. No word if this is a “hate crime.”

    a big back black attacking her is too good to be true; sort of a mirror image, speaking of morton downy jr, of rich lax players. this one seems more plausible, if we need to do a tu quoque, which is always a good exercise.

  18. ” Bill Ayers is a good man. He’s done a hell of a lot more good for this world than most on this message board have ever done or will do.”

    PH is somewhat over the top and I’m not convinced of Ayres influence on Obama. Nevertheless, the history of the Weathermen and SDS, though skeletal, is pretty accurate. I’d have to agree with PH on the content of Ayres character, but PH’s comments go beyond what she/he proves in the context of some pieced together comments. Ayres and Bernadette Dohrn’s “rehabilitation” is interesting and does give a glimpse into the arcana of the acadmic hiring process. Ayres’ father does have spurious connections, but I am not sure about the Defense Dept. Somebody else also told me that though, so I don’t know. You have to understand that universities have connections with government agencies and these often work hand in hand. My professors at the U. where I went knew a lot of DARPA people personally. They worked on projects together, but that was science, not politics. Many “academics” have government connections that are not officially traceable. However, whatever the rest of the post says, she/he is spot on about Ayers and Dohrn and their relationship with the Weathermen.

    As far as Mrs. Obama being “white-hating” — again, PH cannot prove it. There is supposed to be a tape where Michelle condemns President Clinton for not stopping the Rwanda genocide. Rumor is, she then goes on to suggest that blacks should start attacking whites instread of killing each other so much. I believe she is supposed to be speaking in her church, but not sure. Copies of the tape were supposedly held by Rove and if he had any we’d probably have heard of it. I guess this is what PH is talking about. Unless somebody can provide the transcript or the youtube, leave it. When you put stuff into a comment that can’t be supported it obscures that which has merit. We all need to be aware of this.

  19. 72 · Manju said

    a big back black attacking her is too good to be true

    I believe Sarah Palin has verified that Sen. Obama had an alibi for that time.

  20. poor disturbed woman though. she should get her life together. maybe one day she can fill a vacancy at Colombia university

  21. can we just end this election now, on this perfect note? I mean, this things been going on for like forever anyway. And Hegel and Marx are apparently right. For what is certainly the transformational presidential election in regards to race, historical facts have certainly repeated themselves, first as tragedy (the slave trade and civil war) and now as farce.

    A reverse fake hate crime. Perfect allegory for Macs campaign. And both McCain and Palin called this chick up? WTF? Didn’t they vet first? I mean, if you can’t rely on a conservative to be suspicious of the activity self-proclaimed victims, what good are we? That’s what anti-communism’s all about. What a folly.

    Yeah, “a big black man beat me up and scrawled a B onto my face while looking at the reflection in my compact mirror.” Even Joe the Plummer could see this coming.

  22. Congrats to McCain and Palin for doing penance for their earlier misdeeds, and promoting healing by crossing racial lines to embrace their inner Al Sharpton.

  23. what really amazes me is she could’ve just went with an “O” an possibly gotten away with it. idiot moves all around.

  24. 40 · Patty Hearst tells all said

    They cringe in revulsion and digust when he accepts the term “messiah” for himself and refers to himself as president. …. Even Joe the Plumber was made to worry about his lack of a license.

    Are there any specific examples or recorded instances of Obama accepting the term “messiah” for himself? That’s a new one to me. Please enlighten us with real examples, quotes, links that can be verified.