I will likely never get a chance to ‘boo’ Mitt Romney in person, so I will have to do it on the internet.
You may have heard that political windsock Mitt Romney* visited the NAACP yesterday. The audience, obviously predominantly black, booed him when he announced his intention to repeal “Obamacare” should he be elected into office. He then said… well he said a bunch of stupid shit. It was a fairly typical example of a white conservative politician rolling in and telling black people what they should care about instead of the silly frivolous things they do care about (like, y’know, being able to access health care):
Mr. Romney received polite applause at several points during the speech. But he was interrupted again when he flatly accused Mr. Obama of failing to spark a more robust economic recovery.
“I know the president has said he will do those things. But he has not. He cannot. He will not. And his last four years in the White House prove it definitively,” Mr. Romney said as the crowd’s murmurs turned to louder groans.
Finally, he stopped amid loud jeers.
“If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him. You take a look,” Mr. Romney shot back.
The part that I love about this story is the photos of the audience reaction. This one is my favourite:
Of course, there are some who think that Romney wasn’t there to speak to the people in the room at all – that he went there with no interest in actually addressing black issues, but simply so he could show the low-information voters he’s relying on that he tried. “Not my fault that Those People didn’t listen to me talk about the economy. They’re just mad that I want to take away their handouts”. Think that’s a bit far-fetched? Listen to his response at a Montana fundraiser later that day:
I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine. But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy-more free stuff. But don’t forget nothing is really free.
Yes, Mitt. “Free stuff”, like outrageous tax breaks for the wealthy? Or maybe you mean “free stuff” like health insurance that you pay for with your own money?
The point is, Mitt Romney didn’t go to the NAACP to talk to black folks. He went to talk to the folks who listen to bloated ignoramuses like Rush Limbaugh:
“Obama’s the Preezy,” Limbaugh told his listeners Wednesday, (get it? Cuz that’s how black people talk). “He’s confident they’ll boo Romney, simply ’cause Romney’s white. He’s confident of that.” I’m sure Limbaugh will have an impressive rationalization for why Vice President Joe Biden was so well received by the NAACP convention Thursday. This is, put simply, the dumbest thing Limbaugh has said since the time the 61-year old radio host revealed he didn’t know how birth control works.
There are only two instances in the past thirty years or so in which a “white guy” of comparable status to Romney getting booed at an NAACP convention. Following his appearance in 2000, George W. Bush snubbed the NAACP for years as president, but when he finally did speak in 2006, he was booed when he brought up charter schools and the war in Iraq. Prior to that, you have to go back about twenty years of white guys not getting booed to 1983, when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was booed because of his defense of the Reagan administration’s civil rights record. Even then, ABC News describes him as being “well received” when he returned as a presidential candidate in 1988.
Of course it’s far easier for Rush (and his fans) to believe that black people are mindless animals who are just too stupid and complacent to see that Republican policies are really the best way to address racial inequalities. That is a far more parsimonious explanation than actually listening to people when they tell you why Republican policies are terrible, or actually believing that black folks are capable of understanding the issues without the need for the WASP du jour to swoop in and whitesplain the many ways in which the bulging vein of systematic racism that so obviously runs through the American body politic is simply the result of black people failing to tug hard enough on their (our) bootstraps.
Then again, Romney also prefers to bring his own black people to the party, so who the hell knows who he’s listening to.
I’ll let the words Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer finish this post off:
This is not actually about whether or not being white means you get booed at an NAACP convention, though. It’s about a right-wing narrative of white racial resentment, wherein black people are reduced to nothing more than a tangle of seething racial hatred, spending eternity plotting new and fiendish ways to make white people suffer. Or as Limbaugh put it yesterday, “[black people] thought a whole bunch of getting even with ’em out there was gonna be happening.” This is projection: By assuring white people that black people hate them and want to take their stuff, any anger or fear Limbaugh’s audience feels towards black people collectively, and Obama in particular, is justified. This is racial tribalism at its most explicit and crude.
Aren’t you glad we live in the post-racial America? Things must have been awful before.
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*So named because his direction and convictions go wherever the winds are blowing