“A racist letter is circulating in the Kirkwood neighborhood in southeast Atlanta. Residents are hurt and angry about the hate being spread through their community. CBS 46 News first told you about a hate letter received by minorities in Clayton County. Now residents here in southeast Atlanta are coming forward about another hate letter that was distributed last week.”
I post the letter here as transcribed and redacted:
“TO THE XXXXXXX THAT KEEP BREAKING INTO ALL THE HONEST PEOPLES’ HOMES THAT ACTUALLY WORK FOR A LIVING HERE IN KIRKWOOD XXXXXXXXXX OFF!
YOU’RE TRASH AND DON’T DESERVE TO BE ALIVE! YOU OUGHT TO BE IN JAIL, WITH THE REST OF YOUR “BROTHAS” SILLY XXXXXX IT’LL HAPPEN SOON, AS YOU’RE SO STUPID THAT YOU’LL GET CAUGHT EVENTUALLY.
IT’S AMAZING YOU’VE MADE IT THIS FAR AND HAVEN’T EITHER DIED OF A GUNSHOT, CRACK OVERDOSE, SOME KIND OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE FROM ALL THE CRACK XXXXX BABY MOMMAS OUT THERE (WELL TRUTHFULLY, ALL THE SINGLE BLACK BABY MOMMAS OUT THERE HAVE SOME KIND OF BAD DISEASE I’M SURE, JUST LOOK AT THEM WORTHLESS INDIVIDUALS REALLY, NO GOOD SENSE – THEM.)
JUST AS WORTHLESS AS ALL THE BLACK MALES TH— THE NEIGHBORHOOD, WALKING AROUND AT ALL HOURS OF THE NIGHT —“
CNN reported yesterday there was another letter that ended as follows:
“The next time you come into my yard or walk down my street, I will be taking aim, shooting and asking questions later, not that anyone would miss you. I do have a few shallow graves that need filling.”
This is clearly disturbing stuff which comes on the heels of more insinuations that Barack Obama is a Muslim, that he is linked to terrorists, and of course that his middle name sounds like that of a certain former and deceased leader in Iraq and his last name is one letter off from a certain other enemy of this country.
I still think the best line he had the other night at the Alfred E. Smith dinner was this one:
“I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn’t realize I would run for president.”
All kidding aside, I think it is easy to get discouraged about reading this stuff and realizing that there are still people out there that think this way.
There was a line in the newscast in Atlanta that read:
“People said they thought we were in different times now.”
Guess what folks, we are in different times now. I am too young to have lived in the 60s, but many who read this blog on a regular basis are not. In the scheme of things, 40 or 50 years is not that long a time. A few weeks ago I was reading the true account of what happened in Mississippi in the early 1960s when three civil rights leaders were murdered trying to register African-Americans to vote. This was the story that became the movie, Mississippi Burning.
And yes, as we are well aware, the issue of enfranchisement and voting has not altogether left us, as the Supreme Court decision allowing 200,000 people in Ohio to vote yesterday clearly illustrates.
But the thing about the incident in Mississippi was that the Klan killed those civil rights lawyers with direct assistance from law enforcement. The FBI had to come in to investigate and they could only get the ringleaders convicted on federal charges of civil rights violations. These people got away with murder and received very short sentences and they have never been re-tried in state court.
In Georgia local police are investigating these incidents as hate crimes and now the Secret Service has gotten involved. The world has changed. Republican leaders are appalled at these acts. Now we know that some local leadership has perpetuated some of the hate attacks as well, but for the most part, decent people are appalled at the display of hate and racism. It is no longer acceptable.
Things are different in this country. They are not perfect in this country. Racism is not gone from this country. But it is no longer acceptable in polite circles. It is no longer PC. I hate the word PC. It diminishes the import of something like this. It is not that it is not PC, it is that is plain old wrong.
And yet, even after watching the news coverage this week, even after watching this story from Sacramento:
“Offensive material was posted on the local Republican Party Web site supervised by [Craig] MacGlashan [chairman of the Sacramento County Republican Party] earlier this week. Republican leaders removed from the official party Web site material that sought to link Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and encouraged people to “Waterboard Barack Obama.”
Here was his original response:
“Originally, MacGlashan was noncommittal about the content.
“Some people find it offensive, others do not,” he said. “I cannot comment on how people interpret things.”
However, the heat must have gotten to him:
” upon further review he made a mistake.
“Let’s face it, I screwed up,” he said in a press release…
“When asked about the site by a reporter, my first thought was not to beat up on this volunteer, when I should have thought first about doing the right thing — taking it down and condemning the material,” MacGlashan said. “At first I did not realize how offensive the material was, and in the rush to move past it, I didn’t take it seriously enough.”
Maybe. But here’s my point, and I think the bottom line here is important. You may or may not question whether MacGlashan really got the message that this inappropriate. However, the fact remains that the Republicans yanked it down either because they believe that the message was inappropriate (I actually would like to believe that) or because they knew the material would hurt their image. And that means that the public would find that message unacceptable.
We are just two weeks away from electing a black man as President of the United States. Barring the unforeseen that is going to happen. The fact that a black man was nominated as the party nominee for the Democratic Party, the fact that to do it he had to defeat a very powerful figure in her own right, the fact that he is now in position to become President is absolutely not only amazing but reassuring. We are not beyond racism by any means, many in the black community continue to live second class existences and carry the burden of hundreds of years of racism, slavery, and legalized segregation. We are not over that yet. But for the first it really looks like we are taking steps to get over that. This is huge.
People are now worried about the Bradley effect. The Bradley-Deukmejian race occurred in 1982–26 years ago if you can believe that. The Bradley effect is the supposed impact that white voters do not want to acknowledge their racial prejudices to pollsters and therefore conceal their preferences for the white candidate.
Remember 26 years is a long time. It was only a few short years after the busing controversy. Just 14 years after MLK’s assassination. It was right about the time when MLK day became a national holiday. I was just reading a book about Nixon and Watergate and one of the points that came up is that Nixon was criticized by people in his inner circles for going to MLK’s funeral in 1968. MLK at that time was a hugely polarizing figure. It is easy to forget that now. I diverge if only to illustrate that 1982 was not far removed from that era. Just as things that happened in 1994 do not seem that far off to many of us.
But I read a very interesting analysis about the Bradley effect is that there wasn’t a Bradley-effect in the 1982 California Governor’s election. What happened was very simple. Exit polls predicted that Bradley would win on election and he did win on election day. He lost narrowly at the end of the day because Deukmejian heavily won the absentee ballots. The Bradley effect is a misnomer and empirically unfounded.
There is a reason for that. Voters do not face that kind of cognitive disonnance that is described in the Bradley-effect. Voters make a judgment as to who they will vote for and then they will rationalize and justify it in their mind. In my days as a political science researcher, it was clear that voters are not generally able to articulate why they make a decision. They make a decision and then rely on rationalizations that are at the top of their mind. Hence political-psychological theories of voting and the voter decision do not square with the core assumption behind the Bradley-effect that voters will need to disguise their intentions in order to cover for their racial prejudices.
Final point here, the New York Times has an article this morning that is pretty amazing. First, it is expect that Barack Obama will announce that he raised $100 million last month, shattering previous records. He has such a cash discrepancy that he is pounding McCain across the country on the airwaves at a rate of over 4 to 1.
Look at the graphic to the right, and you can see the sudden surge of money. And this was part of his strategy. He was holding back his money until the last three weeks of the election and then he has unleashed it.
The NY Times writes:
“With advertisements running repeatedly day and night, on local stations and on the major broadcast networks, on niche cable networks and even on video games and his own dedicated satellite channels, Mr. Obama is now outadvertising Senator John McCain nationwide by a ratio of at least four to one, according to CMAG, a service that monitors political advertising. That difference is even larger in several closely contested states.”
The article continues:
“While Mr. Obama has held a spending advantage throughout the general election campaign, his television dominance has become most apparent in the last few weeks. He has gone on a buying binge of television time that has allowed him to swamp Mr. McCain’s campaign with concurrent lines of positive and negative messages. Mr. Obama’s advertisements come as Republicans have begun a blitz of automated telephone calls attacking him.”
Finally, the mix of negative to positive is interesting:
“The most recent analysis of the presidential advertisements by the University of Wisconsin, based on the period from Sept. 28 through Oct. 4, found that nearly 100 percent of Mr. McCain’s commercials included an attack on Mr. Obama and that 34 percent of Mr. Obama’s advertisements, which were more focused that week on promoting his agenda, included an attack on Mr. McCain.
That finding reflected the McCain campaign’s strategy of trying to make Mr. Obama an unacceptable choice in the eyes of undecided voters and Mr. Obama’s goal of making undecided voters comfortable with him.
But the Wisconsin Advertising Project says that since Mr. Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination in June, 54 percent of Mr. McCain’s advertisements have been completely focused on attacking him, roughly a quarter have mixed criticism of Mr. Obama with a positive message about Mr. McCain, and 20 percent have been devoted solely to promoting Mr. McCain.
In the same period, the study found that 41 percent of Mr. Obama’s advertisements had been devoted solely to attacking Mr. McCain, one-fifth mixed criticism of Mr. McCain with a positive message about Mr. Obama, and 38 percent were solely devoted to promoting Mr. Obama. “
Now this follows the announcement by Major League Baseball to delay the start of the sixth game of the World Series in order to allow FOX to broadcast Barack Obama’s thirty minute campaign advertisement.
Again, not saying that the election is over, but Obama is in very good shape at this point. And that does not even mention the Obama ground organization that is mobilized to get out the vote in a way that we have never seen before in our times. The polls now show anywhere between about a 4 and 8 or 9 point lead for Obama, but with these efforts, the polls may understate the eventual outcome and if Obama pulls a landslide, the Senate may indeed end up with a filibuster proof majority.
We can lament the tone and some of the racial attacks that have come out in the last few weeks, but I think that misses the amazing sea-change that has occurred in this country. This is a time of hope. And I think it is a time that many Americans never thought they would live to see. Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent or Third Party, I think this is a good thing.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting