Racism Could Sway the Election

Colbert King, Washington Post, September 28, 2012

Credit R. Wallace “Wally” Hudson, chairman of the Mecklenburg County (Va.) Republican Committee, with demonstrating how new social media platforms can broadcast ancient hates.

The Post reported this week that the county GOP’s Facebook page had displayed for months photos portraying President Obama as a witch doctor, a caveman and a drug dealer.

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Virginia’s Republican Party chairman, Pat Mullins, ordered the offensive photos be taken down. But Hudson, who acknowledged posting most of the images, stood his ground, saying he didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “We know our regular readers, who are good conservatives,” he told The Post on Tuesday. “They’re gonna get a kick out of it.”

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Sadly, the Mecklenburg GOP’s disgusting images—which have since been removed—are not an isolated case of ugliness.

Baylor University assistant professor Mia Moody did a study of social media stereotyping of Barack and Michelle Obama; her findings appeared in the journal New Media & Culture.

Moody researched hundreds of Facebook groups and pages. She found numerous examples of the president and the first lady being targeted with racist and sexist rhetoric that, not surprisingly, also indirectly spread hatred toward women and blacks.

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Moody found that some Facebook pages build on ideas that black people are different from members of the dominant group. Several photos showing Michelle Obama dancing drew comments about her “always jigging.”

One group called “Obama Sucks” primarily served as an outlet to post fake photos of the president. One picture featured him wearing a bandanna and gold teeth. The caption: “OBAMA Going For The African American Vote.”

Moody found that many Facebook hate pages also focused on cultural narratives. Some photos depict Obama or his family as animals, particularly apes. One picture showed male and female apes holding an infant ape with Obama’s face superimposed on it.

Tasteless. Disrespectful.

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