Obama Victory Triggers Racist Backlash: At Least 200 Incidents Reported

By Patrik Jonsson

November 17, 2008

Atlanta – In rural Georgia, a group of high-schoolers gets a visit from the Secret Service after posting “inappropriate” comments about President-elect Barack Obama on the Web. In Raleigh, N.C., four college students admit to spraying race-tinged graffiti in a pedestrian tunnel after the election. On Nov. 6, a cross burns on the lawn of a biracial couple in Apolacon Township, Pa.

The election of America’s first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center — a record in modern presidential elections. Moreover, the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters’ comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Mr. Obama’s election to be a potent recruiting tool — one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.

Most election-related threats have so far been little more than juvenile pranks. But the political marginalization of certain Southern whites, economic distress in rural areas, and a White House occupant who symbolizes a multiethnic United States could combine to produce a backlash against what some have heralded as the dawn of a postracial America. In some parts of the South, there’s even talk of secession.

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By Patrik Jonsson

November 17 2008

In rural Georgia, a group of high-schoolers gets a visit from the Secret Service after posting “inappropriate” comments about President-elect Barack Obama on the Web. In Raleigh, N.C., four college students admit to spraying race-tinged graffiti in a pedestrian tunnel after the election. On Nov. 6, a cross burns on the lawn of a biracial couple in Apolacon Township, Pa.

The election of America’s first black president has triggered more than 200 hate-related incidents, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – a record in modern presidential elections. Moreover, the white nationalist movement, bemoaning an election that confirmed voters’ comfort with a multiracial demography, expects Mr. Obama’s election to be a potent recruiting tool – one that watchdog groups warn could give new impetus to a mostly defanged fringe element.

Most election-related threats have so far been little more than juvenile pranks. But the political marginalization of certain Southern whites, economic distress in rural areas, and a White House occupant who symbolizes a multiethnic United States could combine to produce a backlash against what some have heralded as the dawn of a postracial America. In some parts of the South, there’s even talk of secession.

“Most of this movement is not violent, but there is a substantive underbelly that is violent and does try to make a bridge to people who feel disenfranchised,” says Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “The question is: Will this swirl become a tornado or just an ill wind? We’re not there yet, but there’s dust on the horizon, a swirling of wind, and the atmospherics are getting put together for [conflict].”

Though postelection racist incidents haven’t posed any real danger to society or the president-elect, law enforcement is taking note.

“We’re trying to be out there at the cutting edge of this and trying to stay ahead of groups that are emerging,” says Special Agent Darrin Blackford, a spokesman for the Secret Service, which guards the US president.

“Anytime you start seeing [extremist propaganda] floating around, you have to be concerned,” adds Lt. Gary Thornberry of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. “As far as it being an alarmist situation, I don’t see that yet. From a law enforcement point of view, you have to be careful, because it’s not illegal to have an ideology.”

After sparking conflict and showdowns in the 1990s – think Ruby Ridge, Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing – white supremacist and nationalist groups began this century largely splintered and powerless. Though high immigration levels helped boost the number of hate groups from 602 in 2000 to 888 in 2007, key leaders of such groups had died, been imprisoned, or were otherwise marginalized.

But postelection, at least two white nationalist websites – Stormfront and the Council of Conservative Citizens – report their servers have crashed because of heavy traffic. The League of the South, a secessionist group, says Web hits jumped from 50,000 a month to 300,000 since Nov. 4, and its phones are ringing off the hook.

“The vitriol is flailing out shotgun-style,” says Mr. Levin. “They recognize Obama as a tipping point, the perfect storm in the narrative of the hate world – the apocalypse that they’ve been moaning about has come true.”

Supremacist propaganda is already on the upswing. In Oklahoma, fringe groups have distributed anti-Obama propaganda through newspapers and taped it to home mail boxes. Ugly incidents such as cross-burnings, assassination betting pools, and Obama effigies are also being reported from Maine to Alabama.

The Ku Klux Klan has been tied to recent news events, as well. Two Tennessee men implicated for plotting to kill 88 black men, including Obama, were tied to the KKK chapter whose leader was convicted in a civil trial in Brandenburg, Ky., last week, for inciting violence. The murder last week in Louisiana of a KKK initiate, allegedly killed after trying to back out of joining, came at the hands of a new group called Sons of Dixie, authorities say.

“We’re not looking at a race war or anything close to it, but … what we are seeing now is undeniably a fairly major backlash by some subset of the white population,” says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report in Montomgery, Ala. “Many whites feel that the country their forefathers built has been … stolen from them, so there’s in some places a real boiling rage, and that can only become worse as more people lose jobs.”

In an election in which barely 20 percent of native Southern whites in Deep South states voted for Obama, the newly apparent political clout of “outsiders” and people of color has been unnerving to some.

“In states like Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, there was extraordinary racial polarization in the vote,” says Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. “Black Americans really do believe that Obama is going to represent their interests and views in ways that they haven’t been before, and, in the Deep South, whites feel exactly the opposite.”

But for nonviolent secessionist groups like the League of the South, the hope is for a more vigorous debate about the direction of the US and the South’s role in it, says Michael Tuggle, a League blogger in North Carolina.

Mr. Tuggle says his group isn’t looking for an 1860-style secession but, rather, a model that Spain, for one, is moving toward, in which “there’s a great deal of autonomy for constituent regions” – a foil to what is seen as unchecked, dangerous federal power in Washington.

“To a lot of people, the idea of secession doesn’t seem so crazy anymore,” says Tuggle. “People are talking about how left out they feel, … and they feel that something strange and radical has taken over our country.”

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Racial Incidents and Threats Against Obama Soar: Here Is a Chronicle

By Greg Mitchell

November 15, 2008

Since election day, the number of threats against the president-elect, and racial or violent incidents directed at his supporters, have soared. The Secret Service is concerned, calling it the highest number of threats against a President-elect in memory, but the national media until this weekend have largely ignored the disturbing pattern. So a few days ago, over at the Editor & Publisher site, we started chronicling the incidents, which has drawn wide attention (so we will continue, though we hope the problem subsides).

Some claim that, given the size of this great country of ours, the incidents don’t amount to much or are merely anecdotal. I would argue: The ones we know about may represent only the tip of the iceberg — the ones that make it into the local press. And, yes, they may die down as the country gets used to the idea of a President Obama. On the other hand: They could soar again as that reality nears.

So let me just briefly list the full range of episodes, which doesn’t even include several cross burnings on front lawns. These aren’t necessarily the worst but they do capture the national flavor/fever. Note that about 2 out of 3 took place in states that Obama won.

* In a Maine convenience store, an Associated Press reporter saw a sign inviting customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin. The sign solicited $1 entries into “The Osama Obama Shotgun Pool,” saying the money would go to the person picking the date closest to when Obama was attacked. “Let’s hope we have a winner.”

* In Idaho, the Secret Service is investigating a “public hanging” sign erected by a man upset with the election outcome, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported Thursday. A handmade sign posted on a tree reads “FREE PUBLIC HANGING” written in large letters beneath a noose fashioned from nylon rope. The most prominent name on the sign is “OBAMA,” according to the Bee. “That’s a political statement. They can call it whatever they want, a threat or whatever,” the creator of the sign, Ken Germana, told the Bee.

* A popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day. The site, stormfront.org, was temporarily off-line on Nov. 5 because of the overwhelming amount of activity it received. One poster, identified as Dalderian Germanicus, of North Las Vegas, said, “I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how ‘messiahs’ come to rest.”

* From the Orange County (Ca.) Register: “Two gang members pleaded not guilty Thursday to hate crime and attempted robbery charges in connection with the beating of a black man who was trying to buy cigarettes at a Fullerton liquor store.” The two men shouted racial and anti-Obama epithets in the attack.

* From today’s New York Times: “Two white Staten Island men face hate crimes charges after they were arrested on Friday in the beating of a black teenager on the night that Barack Obama was elected president, the police said on Saturday. The teenager, Alie Kamara, 17, was walking home on Pine Place in the Staten Island neighborhood of Stapleton when several men hit him on the head with a baseball bat and yelled ‘Obama,’ said Aliya Latif, the civil rights director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who was in contact with Alie’s family since the attack and spoke to his mother on Saturday after the arrests were announced.”

* In Mississippi alone, the American Civil Liberties Union has received more than 10 calls since the staff first reported anti-Obama incidents last Friday, according to the Jackson (Miss.) Free Press.

* In Midland, Mich., a man dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia walked around toting a handgun and waving an American flag. Initially denying it, the man eventually admitted to police that the display was a reaction to the Obama victory. “[The man] had a concealed weapon permit and was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of a vehicle dealership while some motorists shouted obscenities at him and others shouted accolades,” police told The Saginaw News.

* Parents in Rexburg, Idaho, contacted school officials this week after they learned that 2nd and 3rd graders on a school bus were chanting, “Assasssinate Obama!”

* At the University of Texas in Austin, a racist post on Facebook has cost one student his place on the university football team, according to the Houston Chronicle. Buck Burnette, a sophomore offensive lineman for the fourth-ranked Texas Longhorns, was dismissed from the team on Nov. 5 after posting a racist remark about President-elect Obama as his “status” on the social networking Web site. Burnette posted: “All the hunters gather up, we have a [slur] in the White House,” the Chronicle reported.

* AP reports: “While the world watched a Grant Park celebration heralding the election of the first black U.S. president, some white Chicago police officers committed hate crimes against black residents cheering Barack Obama’s victory elsewhere in the city, attorneys alleged Thursday.” Lawsuits have been filed.

* At Appalachian State University, the administration has expressed disappointment at the numerous times black students have expressed being harassed in residence halls since the election. The Appalachian, a student newspaper serving the university, also reported conversations suggesting Obama may not be alive in 2009 and a t-shirt seen around campus that reads “Obama ’08, Biden ’09.”

* Mentioned in the same article, racist comments were discovered at North Carolina State University last week. Spray-painted in university’s free expression tunnel after the election were the phrases, “Kill that n…” and “Shoot Obama,” the Appalachian reported. The NAACP has called for the expulsion of the four students accused of the graffitti, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

* The Associated Press revealed on Wednesday, “Police on eastern Long Island are investigating reports that more than a dozen cars were spray painted with racist graffiti, reportedly including a message targeting President-elect Barack Obama. The graffiti included racist slurs and sexually graphic references. At least one resident in the quiet Mastic neighborhood told Newsday her son’s car was scribbled with a message threatening to kill Obama.”

* Employees at Hampel’s Key and Lockshop in Traverse City, Michigan, flew an American flag upside down last Wednesday protesting of the new president-elect, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. One worker used a racial slur during an interview with the Record-Eagle: “(The inverted flag is) an international signal for distress and we feel our country is in distress because the n—– got in,” said Hampel’s employee Rod Nyland, who later apologized for the comment, according to the Record-Eagle.

* Authorities in Temecula, Calif., found spray-painted graffiti on a city sidewalk containing a swastika and anti-Obama slogan. And from the Los Angeles Times: “Vandals spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs on a house and several cars in Torrance that displayed campaign signs or bumper stickers for President-elect Barack Obama, authorities said Tuesday. The incidents occurred Saturday night in the Hollywood Riviera section of the city, said Sgt. Bernard Anderson. Four separate incidents were reported the next day, he said. No arrests have been made.”

* And from Maine: “More than 75 people rallied Sunday against an incident last week in which black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island the day after Barack Obama won the presidential election,” according to the Bangor Daily News.

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I see the bigots and haters are coming out of the woodwork.

How sad it all is.

Many leaders around the world are thankful Barack Obama was elected. They see him as someone who they can communicate with on an intelligent level. They see him as someone who will strive for Peace as opposed to endless war.

Barack is well educated and very articulate. He knows the issues and has some great ideas.

I say let him lead and those who hate should really take a look at “What Bush left behind”.

White supremacy is ignorance at it’s finest and they are showing their true colors. Hate only promotes more hate.

They may hide under their sheets or behind their religion,  but they are still promoting their hate.

They are the great pretenders.  They always pretend to be something they are not. They just hate.

They know little if anything about love or who they hurt.  They hate for the sake of hating.

They are brainwashed from the day they are born. If they weren’t they are brainwashed by other haters.

They fill their heads with propaganda instead of truth. They follow blindly as if they were zombies.

They are taught not to think for themselves,  just to believe what the haters have taught them.

How sad. They never reach out to someone who may be the most wonderful person they could ever want to meet.

How lonely it is, to live in a world so small  and limited.

I just can’t imagine living with so much hate in my life.

I can’t imagine hating someone because of the color of their skin or religion or sexual preference.

I know people from all the above groups.  The love, they have to give is incredible.

I would never trade what I have to become some one who hates with such ignorance.

Everyone has a gift to give. The gifts given to me by my friends whether they be black, white, green, orange, yellow or the purple people eater, are love and understanding. I don’t really care what race or religion they are and I really don’t care who they sleep with.

None of it changes the kind of person they are. What is important is what is in their hearts.

None of the people I know don’t care about what color I am, religious beliefs I have, what race I am and they certainly could care less about who I sleep with either.

They judge me by what is in my heart.

Love begets Love, Hate begets hate.

I am loved by my friends and that is more important then anything else.

We love, we respect, we cherish and we understand each other.

What could be more rewarding?

I am purple with pink polka dots.

Got a problem with that?

Take it up with the creator. I was made that way. Just like the creator made everyone.

No one is better then anyone else.  We are all created equal. Then life takes over.

Threats Against Obama on the Rise

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