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Jun. 8 2009 - 12:42 pm | 13 views | 1 recommendation | 1 comment

Casual racism and Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama honors US troops

Image by talkradionews via Flickr

Want to know how far off the deep end the American right has gone? Spend a few minutes scrolling through the caption contest popular right-wing blogger Ann Althouse is hosting, in which she asks her readers to write a caption for this photo, showing Michlle Obama and Carla Bruni sitting together. Here are some entries:

“You’re *Italian*, bitch; stop frontin’ like y’all French ‘n shit.”

“What ‘chu talkin ’bout, ho?”

“White bitch better step the fuck off.”

And, my favorite:

“Die white bitch.”

That’s just a sample; for more of the same, check out all the entries (or, for the sake of your blood pressure, don’t). To Althouse’s readers, all that seems to matter about Michelle is her race. The fact that she’s black leads them to imagine her speaking in some variation of Ebonics–never mind that Michelle simply doesn’t speak that way. The fact that she’s black leads them to imagine her as some kind of angry, grievance-bearing black woman–although planting vegetable gardens and raising two daughters is a far cry from railing against white power. Above all, to Althouse’s reader, the fact that Michelle is black means that she secretly harbors fantasies of killing white women.

I’m not going to dignify that kind of thinking by pointing out there’s no evidence. It’s a deeply racist delusion. Has Althouse denounced these readers? Not as far as I can tell. The granddaddy of the right-wing blogosphere, Glenn Reynolds, has even linked to the caption contest. Pardon me if I fail to see the humor.


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    I live in Washington, D.C., a few blocks away from the White House--hence the title of this blog. In my day job, I'm the associate editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas (www.democracyjournal.org). I've written for The Nation, Politico, The New Republic, Mother Jones, and the NY Daily News, among other places. This blog will be about politics and the Red Sox.

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