Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama the Subhuman

John McCain’s condescending reference to Barack Obama in the second debate as “that one” represents more than just a minor gaffe, or an insensitivity on the part of the Republican candidate.  The comment, originally made in reference to Obama’s voting record in the Senate, is actually representative of a larger, disturbing trend in Republican politics today.  The party has grown increasingly more conservative in recent decades, to the point today where its authoritarian undertones are barely concealed.  McCain’s dehumanization of Obama in the debates is the most poignant, although far from the only example of this trend.  Apparently, John McCain sees the Democratic presidential candidate as not worth addressing by name.  While McCain downgraded Obama’s status to the subhuman “other” in the second debate, he refused to even acknowledge Obama’s presence in their first meeting.  This should strike viewers as quite disturbing, considering that the whole point of a debate is for each candidate to directly engage the other’s issues and stances.

Increasingly, right-wing conservatives and Republican political leaders are issuing dire warnings to the American public that they – and only they – are the legitimate rulers of the United States and the world.  This basic contempt for anything but one-party rule is manifested in a number of dire threats repeated by the party, with its members promising the end of Western civilization as we know it if they lose their dominant status in government.  A review of Conservative and Republican contempt for bi-partisan politics is in order:

– On the culture war front, Republicans and conservatives have been unrelenting in their religious fanaticism and racism.  Residents of West Virginia and Arkansas have received mailings directly from the Republican National Committee warning that liberals will ban the bible if they have the opportunity.  On the national level, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Pallin warns of Barack Obama’s alleged support for domestic terrorism (citing his ties with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, whom Obama repeatedly condemned for his violent activities).  Fox News has run claims that Obama was educated in a radical Islamist school in Indonesia, despite the fact that the story was extensively debunked by CNN.  The Republican Party and conservatives even go on the offensive against Barack Obama’s allegedly fundamentalist name.  They repeat the full name over and over, shamelessly and with a sort of racist pride.  Presumably, simply being named Barack Hussein Obama is enough to prove you’re a terrorist, Muslim, fanatic, or all of the above (little distinction is made between these, sadly).

– Right-wing pundits, echoed by major conservative political leaders, have warned that a victory for Barack Obama will be a victory for Islam, radical terrorism, and anti-Americanism.  Right-wing radio pundits such as Michael Medved warn that a vote for the Democratic Party is essentially a vote for Osama bin Laden.  McCain and others repeat the claim that withdrawal from Iraq is tantamount to surrender to Al Qaeda.  As the logic (or illogic) of this argument goes, since Democrats favor de-escalation in Iraq, and since Republicans are fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, Democrats must be anti-American and in favor of terrorism since they oppose this necessary war.  Obviously, such claims suffer from a basic lack of evidence, considering that Al Qaeda-affiliated groups were not operating in Iraq until after Bush invaded Iraq, and since reports have actually shown that the U.S. torture and illegal detainment of Muslims at Guantanamo has actually contributed to their radicalization and their support for Islamist terrorism, rather than preventing such a threat.  Studies throughout the Middle East also find that the occupation is radicalizing the region’s people against the United States.  The American occupation is seen as the primary source of destruction in Iraq, rather than the “insurgency” or Al Qaeda (which is only a miniscule part of the resistance to the U.S.).

– Conservative legal officials have essentially declared war on the Democratic Party, not for violating the law, but due to their own ideological prejudices.  Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was recently exposed for allowing politically motivated prosecutions against prominent Democratic political officials.  One statistical study from the University of Missouri showed that the Justice Department had systematically engaged in “political profiling” against Democrats, including figures such as Alabaman Governor Don Siegelman.  Federal prosecutors had essentially dropped the case against Siegelman in 2004 (due to a lack of evidence against him), when they were instructed by the Justice Department to proceed with bribery and fraud charges regardless.  As one Justice Department attorney said to one of the lawyers representing a Democrat who had been charged: “I know your client thinks he’s innocent. He’s offered to take a lie detector test.  I’m not interested in that.  In fact, I’m sure he’d pass the test.  And in fact I don’t have the evidence to make out my case.  No matter. I just plan to throw shit at the wall and sit back and watch as some of it drops on him.  We’ll get him.”

None of these right-wing hit jobs or smear tactics should strike voters as merely “more of the same” negative politicking in an election season.  On major issues, Barack Obama has bent over backwards in his emphasis on the importance of bi-partisanship, cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, and the need for an end to negative campaigning.  Obama and Biden, while making many critical statements of John McCain and Sarah Palin, have generally remained respectful and even tried to draw some comparisons between themselves and their Republican competitors.  They’ve spoken of their deep respect and affinity for John McCain as a military man, and even voiced their support for the Republican’s “surge” as succeeding in decreasing violence in Iraq.

The Democrats’ attempt to appeal across party lines has clearly not been the preferred tactic of the Republican Party.  Angry over their likely loss of power in the upcoming election, they have become increasingly desperate in their attacks on the Democrats and the legitimacy of the two party state.  This is particularly disturbing at a time when it is becoming harder and harder to discern concrete or substantive differences in the economic policies of the two parties.  In reality, Obama and Biden’s vague references to “regulation” don’t amount to a whole lot when they fail to follow them up with actual policy proposals.  That these Democrats are demonized by Republicans as sub-human, dangerous, or terrorist is more a sign of the growing extremism of conservatives than of the moral weakness or treachery of the Democrats.  The Democratic Party today may be morally bankrupt, spineless, and bland, but none of those are anywhere near as dangerous as the Republican Party’s fundamentalist contempt for multi-party elections and bi-partisan politics.

ANTHONY DiMAGGIO teaches Politics of the Developing World and American Government at Illinois State University.  His book, Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Examining American News in the “War on Terror” will be released in paperback this December.  He may be reached at: adimagg@ilstu.edu

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Anthony DiMaggio is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh University. He holds a PhD in political communication, and is the author of the newly released: Selling War, Selling Hope: Presidential Rhetoric, the News Media, and U.S. Foreign Policy After 9/11 (Paperback: 2015). He can be reached at: anthonydimaggio612@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail