A high-ranking S.C. GOP activist compared Michelle Obama to a monkey that escaped Riverbanks Zoo.
During the presidential campaign, stores sold shirts of then-candidate Barack Obama depicted as a monkey. Some who showed up at McCain-Palin rallies smiled brightly into TV cameras as they held stuffed monkeys depicting Obama.
Other Obama critics circulated e-mails calling him "uppity" and had his face on a fake dollar bill along with images of watermelons and fried chicken, or the picture of a drunk, homeless black man lying by a Dumpster with the caption: "Obama victory celebration."
He had to receive Secret Service protection earlier than any non-incumbent candidate in history. There were reports of racist graffiti vandalism at some of his get-out-the-vote offices.
A man in Indiana refused to shake his hand and called him an un-American Muslim.
After Obama was elected, his critics circulated more e-mails: one had the lawn of the White House depicted as a watermelon patch.
During a recent protest rally held in Washington, D.C., a few in the crowd held up pictures of Obama with a bone through his nose and dressed like a savage, among other patently racist imagery. One man held a sign that said they didn't bring guns — this time.
This is all during a time when Obama is receiving more death threats — by a wide margin — than any president before him.
This, I'm told by many on the right, has nothing to do with race, only his policies.
They say that "anyone who criticizes the president is labeled racist."
That defense is laughable on its face. Most people who are upset with Obama simply don't agree with his policies and are unconcerned about his race. Their vision for the future of this country and his don't match. Some of them are afraid of a deficit that's too high, a health care system that may change in ways not to their liking, or are frustrated that he isn't taking former Vice President Dick Cheney's advice on fighting terrorism.
Those are legitimate and welcome points of debate.
That's the majority.
But anyone who believes race and racism have nothing to do with the criticism of Obama have to be blind. Not all of his critics are motivated by race. But a significant minority of them are.
It's not playing the race card to point that out.
That's simply pointing out our current, scary reality.