Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the Republican Party does it again. Orange County Republican Committee member Marilyn Davenport is in hot water after distributing an email that features President Obama as the child of a family of chimpanzees. In the email, which was widely-distributed, the long-standing committee member sent out the picture with the caption, “Now you know why – No birth certificate!”
County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh has called for Davenport’s resignation, saying that the picture was “dripping with racism and is in very poor taste.”He also referred the matter to the GOP Ethics Committee.
“I’m sorry if my email offended anyone, I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth,” said Davenport. “In no way did I even consider the fact he’s half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race. We all know a double standard applies regarding this president. I received plenty of emails about George Bush that I didn’t particularly like, yet there was no ‘cry’ in the media about them.”
One has to find it quite interesting that there are Republicans who genuinely believe that the tremendous hatred and scapegoating of President Barack Obama is not affected in the least by racial animosity. What might surprise you, however, is that I actually believe some of them when they claim that racism is not the driving force behind their attacks. The reason is that much American racism is subconscious, driven by hundreds of years of social conditioning in our society to continuously reinforce the notion that African Americans are less ethical, less reliable, and less intelligent than everyone else. In other words, we’re seen to be just a step above monkeys.
The great challenge for the Republican Party is that the thinking of many Republicans is built on the notions of power and entitlement. By working so hard to protect those in power (i.e. the wealthy and major corporations), Republicans reinforce the idea that those who are less powerful are meaningless players in our society. These groups include minorities, women, the poor, the elderly and the disabled. So, when one sees a Republican agenda that is hell-bent on cutting funding from nearly anything that helps disadvantaged groups, you can see the correlation between the party’s racist, sexist, homophobic, classist perceptions and the fact that some of their leaders think its funny to refer to the first black president as a chimp.
Of course the Republicans are going to denounce the picture, primarily because such a blatant exhibition of racism plays their discrimination card a bit too readily. But the very same Republicans who denounce the picture of President Obama as a chimp are going to go right back to Washington to attack the first black president in ways that they’d never attack a white man. The only difference between Ms. Davenport and her fellow Republicans is that her racism wasn’t covert.