“Some people tell me it’s racist, but it’s not racist — it’s political. Matter of fact, that’s how I got invited here.”
That’s how Bob Cramer, local Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Tea Party member, got invited to the Tea Party convention; he designed a t-shirt that depicts our black President as an African witch doctor, complete with a bone in his nose, and the word “Obamacare” drawn with a sickle and hammer for the letter “C.”
Bone through his nose? Nah, that’s not racist.
Bob says it’s just meant to be a statement about how he feels about President Obama’s “takeover of medicine.” It’s “political,” you see! Not racist. Not even a little!
While some people feel it’s best to ignore this sort of vile behavior based on the theory of “don’t give attention to evil,” I believe it’s more instructive to illuminate it; acknowledge the pervasive, systemic racism that persists in our society despite ludicrous denials like Mr. Cramer’s. In fact, it’s important to not stand silent and dismiss it as inconsequential, not when we live at a time when political players, large and small, deny racism while using its coded messages to denigrate and demean opponents of color and diversity. It’s particularly offensive when this sort of behavior is condoned in an official political setting like a Tea Party convention that’s hosting such headliners as U.S. Reps. Jeff Duncan and Tom Rice, Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Nikki Haley, and Attorney General Alan Wilson.
According to the Palmetto Public Record, while it’s not clear exactly how or if an invitation actually factors into the story (Bob had no further information about that), he’s been hawking the design for a while now. Originally, he went with window decals of the image which he sold for eight dollars a piece in an initial run of 100, so popular they were sold in a couple of months.
But apparently this insipid design isn’t even a “Bob Cramer original.” The purported original, which uses an actual photograph of Obama, has been floating around the internet for years and was the focus of a dust-up in October of last year over an anti-Obama Halloween window display in New Jersey. In that case, the perpetrator of the display, business owner Bill Skuby, claimed it wasn’t political, “it’s personal:”
“This is America, isn’t it?” Skuby asked.”Aren’t we able to say and do pretty much what we want to do?”
Skuby, who admitted that his business has suffered because of his visual expression, said the community is trying to run him out of town. He said people have made him out to be a racist because of his anti-Obama display.
“If you want to call me a racist then go ahead. I can assure you I am not a racist; I just really want to see Obama go.” Skuby said. “This is a good example of where race relations are under this guy’s administration. … This has absolutely nothing to do with race.” [Source]
Really? You decide:
Wow, not only is he denying it’s racist, he’s even blaming the racism he’s denying on the man he’s racially bashing! That’s called “creative racism.” Or “deflective racism.” Or just plain audacity. But, whatever it’s called…it’s racism.
But while Skuby’s business took some hits due to his “visual expression” (he was, after all, not in the deep south where such things tend to be more popular), back in South Carolina, the Bob Cramer decals borrowed from the same design were met with clamoring enthusiasm:
Cramer says the reaction in South Carolina has been almost entirely positive.
“I’ve had people chase me down at gas stations asking me where they can buy one, and give me thumbs up on the highway,” he said. “Nobody’s tried to mess with my truck, even when I’ve been in black neighborhoods and other places.” [Source]
With all that supposed support (wonder how often Bob’s in black neighborhoods?), he was inspired to get out his air-brusher to add some “flair” to a white t-shirt and, voilà…a Tea Party hit was born! In fact, Cramer claims he’s been so bombarded with requests for the shirt, he plans to bring order forms to the convention floor.
Gotta love the industry of racism!
Interestingly, it was just last week we reported on another story that involved South Carolina and racist t-shirts; this one was the uniform of a local Mexican restaurant that – bizarrely – insulted Mexicans. The design of that particular shirt showed an image of two tacos inside a box trap with the caption, “How to catch an illegal immigrant.” Must be something about South Carolina racists and their t-shirts! [Read the whole story here.]
The point is this: can we not pretend? Can those involved in racist activities please not insult our intelligence by telling us it’s not racism? We’re not blind, stupid or unaware of the coded messages these words and symbols convey. We get it. But since you’re clearly comfortable with the message, why not say it out loud, yell it to the world? You’re racists, plain and simple. If you’re going to walk the walk and talk the talk, at least have the perverse integrity to admit it.
Because whether you do or don’t, the rest of us already know.