Tennessee GOP hits Obama with vile, divisive smear
There are no adequate words of condemnation for this.
I'll try a few, though. Indefensible. Inexcusable. Disgusting. And, yes, racist.
The Tennessee Republican Party apparently thinks it's appropriate to smear Barack Obama -- or as they put it, Barack Hussein Obama -- with an official press release accompanied by an all-too-familiar irrelevant, inflammatory photo of Obama in Somali garb, described pointedly as "Muslim attire."
And they aren't backing down. Far from it, in fact. They say this deliberately divisive nonsense is necessary to "inform the Republican base." Oh yes, how "informative"! Good grief!
[UPDATE: The press release has been altered, with some of the offending material removed. You can see the original here. I've published a new post here addressing the state GOP's grossly inadequate "clarification."]
The people propagating this piece of trash may not themselves be racist or bigoted -- I strongly suspect they aren't, in fact -- but there's no question they are deliberately playing the race/religion card in a way specifically designed to appeal to those who would reject Obama because of some combination of: 1) the fact that he has black skin and Muslim ancestry, and 2) the utterly discredited, Internet-fueled rumors that he's some sort of radical-Islamist Manchurian Candidate.
And I'm just talking about the photo and the middle name (the use of which John McCain has specifically rejected as inappropriate). That's not even getting into how misleading and mendacious that "discussion" is, engaging in the sort of guilt-by-association via six-degrees-of-separation tripe that could land any politician in hot water. (Obama would be an anti-Israel president because... wait for it, wait for it... the board of a nonprofit organization on which he once served, once gave money to a "controversial Arab group," that once said it's opposed to Israel's existence? Really? ... I daresay I don't think it's terribly wise for Southern Republicans, of all people, to suggest that one's racial attitudes can be established through such tenuous links.)
But even those who might want to debate the validity of those points will surely agree that, in any event, the inclusion of the photo is utterly indefensible, to a such an extreme degree that whatever legitimacy the press release might otherwise have had is utterly destroyed. In other words, even admitting arguendo that these "anti-Semitic" Obama connections ought to be discussed, this is not the way to do it -- not by even the remotest stretch of the imagination. As such, I'm sure everyone will also agree that the Tennessee Republican Party's disgusting, vile, racist tactics should be roundly and universally condemned, period.
(More here and here.)
All I can say to the Tennessee Republican Party is that, as an independent, centrist resident of your state who leans conservative on a number of issues, this is something that I will most certainly keep in mind as I ponder whether to support the candidates whom you nominate for state office in future elections.
Bill Hobbs, communications director for the Tennessee Republican Party, whose name appears at the bottom of the press release, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (615) 269-4260.
P.S. By the way, on the somewhat related issue of Obama's supposedly "anti-Semitic" foreign-policy advisor, Samantha Power -- not raised in the TN GOP release, but oft-discussed elsewhere, including here -- check out what the archliberal Max Boot, writing in the noted lefty publication Commentary, had to say. (If you don't know, both of those descriptions are entirely sarcastic.) More here.
NOTE: As several commenters pointed out, the issue isn't really whether Tennessee's Republican leaders are themselves racists -- which I'm sure they aren't -- but rather whether they are using deliberatively divisive, racist tactics against Barack Obama in order to appeal to the baser instincts of some of their constituents (which they clearly are).
As such, I've changed the title of this post (which was originally "The Tennessee GOP is run by racists"), along with some of the rhetoric in the first few paragraphs, in order to more accurately reflect my point -- and avoid distracting from the main issue with overheated rhetoric.
I apologize for going a little over-the-top in the initial version of this post. I was in a hurry and, frankly, quite angry. But the issue here is not whether Bill Hobbs, Robin Smith or anyone else in the party are personally racist. I never really meant to seriously suggest that they are. The issue is whether they are using racially (or religiously or ethnically) divisive tactics. That's what we (and I) should be focusing on.