Racism Is a Value, Too

This needs no comment from me:

At the Values Voter Summit this weekend, vendors sold an item called “Obama Waffles” featuring a racist cartoon of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) on the box front — with “popping eyes and big, thick lips” — and another image of him wearing an Arab-like headdress on its top flap. Its creators, Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, said it was meant as “political satire,” and sold the box for $10 from a booth at the Family Research Council event. CNN’s Lou Dobbs stopped by the booth and exclaimed, “My wife will love this!” A photo shows Dobbs with a box of the mix in his hand. UPDATE: American News Project interviewed the creators, who said they were just “having a little fun during the election season,” and denied that the box was racist or offensive.

The creators of this product were interviewed; Think Progress has the video.

John Cole has several other examples of Republican values.

11 Responses to “Racism Is a Value, Too”

  1. roschelle says:

    Another shameful chapter in American history. The race for the presidency of the United States has revealed just how divided we still are after all these years regarding race. If you think this is bad…try caring for a racist.

  2. gcotharn says:

    I watched the video. It’s amazing you suspect those two guys of being racist. By treating Obama exactly as they would treat any other Dem candidate: they are showing respect for Obama. It would be racist if they treated him differently from white candidates.

    For their parody waffle mix, they needed a cartoon Obama to look foolish. There is literally no way for them to cartoon a foolish Obama without Think Progress and you calling it racist.

  3. gcotharn says:

    Look at these Kerry parodies. If this was done to Obama, Think Progress would cry racism:

    dumb and dumber
    ambiguously gay
    Lord of the
    Dems

    Laurel and Hardy

    An entire industry of Bush = Monkey merchandise is going out of business in a few months. Parody is rarely subtle.

  4. Kathy says:

    I don’t “suspect” them of being racist; I am saying they are racist, because they are racist, everything they said was racist, and the “product” they were selling was racist.

    There’s a lot I could say about racial stereotypes in American history, but the image those two men used to make a political point about Barack Obama is so well-known in the history of racial stereotypes in this country — so classic and unmistakable — that if you don’t recognize it for what it is, which you clearly don’t, nothing I could write could possibly make up for that level of miseducation or lack of education.

    What does need to be said is that your claim that “those two guys treated Obama exactly as they would treat any other Democratic candidate” is flat-out untrue. And even more, it’s absurd, ludicrous on its face.

    John Kerry was accused of flip-flopping in the 2004 campaign. Was his face put on an Aunt Jemima-like box of pancakes called Kerry waffles, with exaggerated racial features like thick lips and bulging eyes? And with “instructions” written in obviously ungrammatical uneducated black dialect?

    Has any political operative or party ever put Joe Lieberman’s face on a fake package showing him stuffing food in his mouth at a bar mitzvah, and with exaggerated Jewish features like a big hook nose?

    Check yourself out, gcotharn. You are so used to living in a racist culture that you don’t even see it.

  5. Kathy says:

    Re your point about needing a cartoonish way to make Obama look foolish: The way they did that was by reaching for a deeply familiar racial stereotype of Obama as a black Aunt Jemima with exaggeratedly thick lips and bulging eyes. No white person would be parodied by using an obvious and deeply offensive racial stereotype like that.

  6. gcotharn says:

    “No white person would be parodied by using an obvious and deeply offensive racial stereotype like that.”

    Are you saying white people are not parodied via using stereotypes of typical white people?

    Or, are you saying stereotypes of white people are not offensive?

    Bush is parodied as a monkey, as Hitler, as lots of other stuff which would be offensive if people were looking to take offense, as – in Obama’s case – you and Think Progress and myriad others are.

    We just disagree. Obama has to be parodied. There’s almost no way to do it without someone calling out “racist”. So, you just do it, and don’t lose sleep over those who call out and take offense. Parodists are learning to not care as much about the opinions of those who shout “racist”. It’s a boy who cried wolf effect.

    The ability of the politically corrects to intimidate – while still strong – is nevertheless beginning to diminish. It will soon enough diminish in a big way.

    I’m familiar with classic racism. I just don’t care about it much. Anyone who wants to succeed in this nation has opportunity to succeed. Obama and Palin and Biden prove that.

  7. gcotharn says:

    “No white person would be parodied by using an obvious and deeply offensive racial stereotype like that.”

    These brand new photoshops of McCain, by Atlantic Monthly photographer Jill Greenberg, certainly traffic in stereotypes. It would hard to argue that actual racist photos of Obama would be any more offensive.

  8. Kathy says:

    gcotharn,

    None of those parodies you link to are comparably offensive. None of them reference well-known, centuries-old racial stereotypes — with those steeotypes themselves being rooted in and deriving from an all-too-real history of bigotry, persecution, and dehumanization of one particular group of Americans.

    Parodies that use homophobic sentiments for political gain are equally offensive, but that one “ambiguously gay” parody does not draw on any specifically anti-gay stereotypes — it’s just stupid and sophomoric.

    Are you saying white people are not parodied via using stereotypes of typical white people?

    Or, are you saying stereotypes of white people are not offensive?

    It absolutely floors me that in the 21st century this still has to be explained: White people as a group do not share a history of enslavement, disenfranchisement, subjugation, and physical terror in this country. The most offensive parody of a “stereotype” of white people *cannot* draw on that kind of history because the history *does.not.exist.* You can parody specific “types” of white people, like rednecks or hillbillies, but those stereotypes, while unkind and sometimes offensive, are not rooted in the kind of history of terror and persecution that racial stereotypes like the black mammy or the minstrel boy are. There ARE no “stereotypes” of white people that are comparably offensive to parodying Barack Obama as a thick-lipped, bug-eyed Aunt Jemima minstrel boy on a box of waffles. It’s more than offensive; it’s vicious.

  9. Kathy says:

    And btw, those “photoshops” of McCain are not offensive at all, in my view. That’s what he looks like. Even if the photos did distort his facial features, how could that *possibly* be offensive in the way that a representation of Barack Obama’s racially distorted face on a box of waffles is? It’s the specific “blackness” of Obama’s features that are being parodied in that graphic. It’s not merely his own individual features that are being exaggerated. It’s the features that are most typically racial in nature — just as an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jewish person’s face would emphasize the features that are most typically semitic, or Jewish. There’s a difference between a parody of a Jewish face that exaggerates a specific person’s features and one that exaggerates *specifically* the features that are most recognizable as “Jewish.” Or African-American.

  10. gcotharn says:

    The cartoonist gave Obama Dr. Spock ears and a pencil neck. Are those racial stereotypes of black people?

    I watched the Think Progress video: those two guys are a far distance away from being racists. They’re just two dudes trying to have fun and make a buck.

    Let’s try this another way: let’s assume those two guys are stone cold racists. Now watch the video. Of the entire population of racists in America, about 98% of racists deserve to be gone after before these two guys. You are aiming a cannon at gerbils.

    It’s vigilant, and moral, to protest potential racist stuff which occurs at the margins, however
    1) it goes too far to proclaim that those two guys in that video are racists
    2) it goes too far to trumpet marginal stuff as racial Armageddon
    3) remember that going too far with questionable accusations only serves to devalue the damage done to true victims of racism.

    You say:
    “There ARE no “stereotypes” of white people that are comparably offensive to parodying Barack Obama as a thick-lipped, bug-eyed Aunt Jemima minstrel boy on a box of waffles. It’s more than offensive; it’s vicious.”

    I think you got flourished away by your own rhetoric. Which is more offensive and vicious: being mocked over the unavoidable circumstance of having black skin; or being accused of the intentional crime of being a bloody mongerer (whatever a “mongerer” is)? I don’t care about what the stupid Atlantic photographer did. Her actions are small potatoes; her prejudices are old and common news. However, if it’s a contest of viciousness, I think she trumps the waffle boys.

    Anyway, I understand your opinion. I just think you are using poor judgment in your assessments, and going too far in your reactions.

  11. Kathy says:

    They’re just two dudes trying to have fun and make a buck.

    By exploiting racially humiliating images of black people. And it’s not just “two dudes.” The racism is in the image they used. The point is not to plumb the depths of these two men’s souls whom I don’t even know. The point is to examine the viewpoint they are promoting. The graphic is racist regardless of their intentions or motivations. Perhaps they truly don’t think what they did was racist. It still is. I’m more interested in the larger issue of racist attitudes that are embedded in imagery, language, and American culture in general, than in arguing over whether two particular individuals who chose to exploit those attitudes are themselves racist. I really don’t care about those “two dudes.” I care about racism. I care about the way black people are viewed and treated. I care about the history of racial hatred and institutionalized racism in this country that runs like a poisonous river underneath everyday life in this country. I care about the hypocrisy of dipping our buckets in the poisonous river for personal and political gain, while simultaneously pretending that the river doesn’t exist, or that its existence doesn’t matter.

    A mongerer is someone who spreads or facilitates whatever the modifying noun is: war, hate, fear, etc.

    As for your “which is more offensive and vicious” question, I can only say that if I had to choose, I would prefer to be falsely and maliciously portrayed as the lyncher, with the assumption being that lynching is an appalling crime, than to be portrayed as the lynched, with the assumption being that lynching is funny or entertaining. I would rather feel angry or even outraged than humiliated, degraded, or intimidated.

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