George Graham

Deciphering Racist Code Words in the 2012 Campaign

Here’s a party game you might want to try: figuring out the real meaning of the words Republican candidates are using to paint President Obama as an ethnic outsider in the 2012 presidential campaign. They won’t come right out and label him with racist slurs; they will leave that to their knuckle-dragging supporters. But they will use a lot of nod-nod, wink-wink references that nobody could miss.

I’m sure you recognize that the “birther” movement was designed to convey the “outsider” message. And you will recall the preposterous claim by Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee that the president somehow inherited Mau-Mau traits from his Kenyan father. Huckabee even went so far as to make up a story about President Obama being born in Kenya, and when that was exposed as a bald-faced lie, he changed the president’s alleged birth place to Indonesia.

Huckabee isn’t running for president; he’s got a good thing going on Fox News, where he can spread his lies with impunity.

But Gingrich is.

That sleazy old creep, who has the nerve to hide his slimy past behind a mask of piety, can’t possibly win a presidential election in America. He doesn’t even have much chance of getting the Republican nomination. His “campaign” is just a ruse to sell his books and other stuff and raise money in various other ways.

But even as a loser, he will be able to make a lot of mischief.

As Joan Walsh observes in her Salon.com column today, he is already planting racist seeds designed to flower into distrust of the president. And, of course, he’s doing it in code.

Here’s an excerpt from Walsh’s column:

Newt Gingrich doubled down on his clever new slur against President Obama as “the food stamp president.” He tried the line in a Friday speech to the Georgia Republican convention, and he used it again on “Meet the Press Sunday.” It’s a short hop from Gingrich’s slur to Ronald Reagan’s attacks on “strapping young bucks” buying “T-bone steaks” with food stamps. Blaming our first black president for the sharp rise in food-stamp reliance (which resulted from the economic crash that happened on the watch of our most recent white president) is just the latest version of Rush Limbaugh suggesting that Obama’s social policy amounts to “reparations” for black people.

But when host David Gregory suggested the term had racial overtones, Gingrich replied “That’s bizarre,” and added, “I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.” That’s not quite as extreme or silly as Donald Trump declaring “I am the least racist person there is,” but it’s up there. He also told Georgia Republicans Friday that 2012 will be the most momentous election “since 1860,” which happens to be the year we elected the anti-slavery Abraham Lincoln president, and he suggested the U.S. bring back a “voting standard” that requires voters to  prove they know American history — which sounds a lot like the “poll tests” outlawed by the Voting Rights Act.

Just last week Gingrich said Obama “knows how to get the whole country to resemble Detroit,” which just happens to be home to many black people. And last year Gingrich accused Obama of “Kenyan anti-colonialist behavior” that made him “outside our comprehension” as Americans, spreading Dinesh D’Souza’s idiocy that Obama inherited angry African anti-colonialism from the Kenyan father he never knew. “This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president,” Gingrich told the National review Online last year.

You can bet Gingrich will have lots of company in his crusade to taint the president with thinly veiled racial slurs. So for the rest of this election season you can divert yourself by decoding all the racist words and phrases that will be coming from the Republican camp.

Click here to read the Walsh column.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com