Obama and the Death of White Power
by David J. Leonard
The re-election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States prompted a wide range of hateful reactions. From tearful Romney supporters to enraged bigots, the prospects of an African American leading the nation for another four years sent many within White America into panic mode or what I like to call “WDD:” White Delusional Disorder.
Teenagers took to twitter to hurl racial slurs without concern for the blowback; college students at Ole Miss and Hampden-Sydney (among others) took to the streets to voice their anger. In displays of violence usually reserved for sports celebrations, or disgust over an early bar closing, White males made their prejudices clear, hurling racial epithets and rocks with little fear of consequence. As editor Jamilah Lemieux said of those on twitter “the fact that there are so many people willing to publicly express these views… is troubling.”
Predictably, much of the chatter has focused on individual reactions, imagining racism in terms of emotion, anger, and frustration. The media’s shock and awe is not surprising given its failure to shine a spotlight on the resurgent White nationalism since 2008 and persistent racial inequality in the United States. Worse yet, the media has consistently portrayed racism as extreme in nature—-the extremely young, the extremely bigoted, the extremely Southern, the extremely uneducated, and the extremely low-class. But most of us know that it is more common than any newspaper may have you believe.
The anxieties, anger, and outrage weren’t so much about backlash against liberal values, but what Obama’s victory revealed about the nation. There was a clear, alarming message about demographic shifts and waning White male control. According to Keisha Bentley-Edwards, “The anger wasn’t only about President Obama and his re-election. It was overall frustration at the emerging power of diverse people in this country.”
It became yet another moment to lament “White victimhood,” a fantasy too fictitious for even Hollywood. It became an instance to mourn “the end of White America,” which for everyone from Bill O’Reilly to Donald Trump, from David Duke to White nationalists marks the demise of American civilization. O’Reilly laments “a changing country” given the increased power of “people who want things,” recycling the proven politics of White resentment.
Not surprisingly, while White tears were flowing, White nationalists seized upon President Obama’s re-election to further its movement. At Stormfront.org, the hub for global racism, readers were met with a new introduction to the website:
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