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How Conservative Elites Stoke Racist Anxieties to Gain Power and Split Blacks and Whites | Tea Party and the Right | AlterNet

The 2012 primary campaign has repeatedly demonstrated that Republicans are trying to mobilize their voters by tapping into racial anxieties. Newt Gingrich calling Obama a “food stamp president,” Rick Santorum implying that African Americans are parasites who leach off of white people, and Ron Paul’s old newsletters, which describe black men as monstrous beasts (“giant negroes” who stand ready to attack whites at any moment), are examples of this phenomenon on the national stage. However, Republican candidates for lower office have also pulled a page out of this playbook. As their subtle dog-whistles escalate into clarion calls of overt racism to the Tea Party faithful, Mark Oxner, Republican candidate for Congress in Florida, has chosen to join the proverbial band. What is his contribution? A campaign commercial featuring President Barack Obama as the captain of a slave ship which is heading for inevitable doom as it sails over a waterfall—and bringing all of “us” down with it.

Mark Oxner’s ad is a marvelous example of right-wing propaganda; it is carefully crafted and rich with provocative imagery. For example, in keeping with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’ recent suggestion that President Obama’s leadership is akin to Captain Schettino’s (the captain of the capsized Italian cruise ship Costa Condordia, on which 17 people were killed), Obama is depicted as irresponsible and negligent, abusing the child slaves who are forced to row the mighty vessel.

It is important to emphasize the choices made by the producers of Oxner’s video. They decided to use a colonial-era vessel driven by wind and powered by slaves, as opposed to a modern cruise liner, a steamship, or even an airplane. They chose to cast the children as slaves who are monitored by a whip-carrying overseer. And Oxner’s ad was designed to feature one image above all others—that of children, most of them white, being abused by a gleeful and indifferent black man. The inversion of the expected image, one where a person of color enslaves whites in their own version of the Middle Passage, reinforces the idea that something is unnatural (and inherently wrong) about this relationship of domination and subordination.

via How Conservative Elites Stoke Racist Anxieties to Gain Power and Split Blacks and Whites | Tea Party and the Right | AlterNet.

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