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In a very long article printed today in the AB Journal, McClathy's Steven Thomma includes this sentence in an opinion piece entirely about the "birthers" in America who do not believe that Obama is a U.S. citizen.....
"It's a powerful story about what experts call political paranoia over a new face in a time of anxiety and rapid change — the sort of viral message that can take hold among a sliver of the populace that's ready to believe that the new president is a fraud, and just as ready to angrily dismiss anyone who disagrees as part of the conspiracy."
I disagree with the reason Thomma gives from the "experts" about why the "birther" nonsense has become a "viral message". It isn't because of..... "political paranoia over a new face".....it's political paranoia over a "new black Democratic face."
Take a look at this chart....
The only region of the country where birther nonsense is believed by more than 10% of the population is in the south. In the northeast, midwest and west, 90% of Americans believe that Obama was born in the U.S. In the south it's not even 50%. That's no small difference.
Is the south much more susceptible than other regions of the country to "political paranoia over a new face" in the White House? Or, is the political paranoia the south is experiencing over Obama caused by the fact that the face is black?
"According to Del Ali of Research 2000 (who took the poll), if you excluded those people from the poll—if you look only at white voters in the South—the number of people who doubt Obama’s citizenship is higher than the 47 percent figure that has grabbed headlines today. “There was no deviation in the number of black, Hispanic, and other voters from one region of the country to another,” Ali told TWI. In the South, like everywhere else, the vast majority of non-white voters said that Obama was born in the United States; 97 percent of black voters, 87 percent of Hispanic voters, and 88 percent of other minorities. The extremely low overall percentage? That’s due to white Southerners, who dragged down the average with an extremely high level of doubt about Obama."
The noticeable deviation by region was not caused by minority voters polled. That only leaves the southern white voters.....
"So what proportion of Southern whites doubt that Obama is an American citizen? While Ali did not release the racial breakdowns for the the South, and cautioned that the margin of error in the smaller sample of 720 people would be larger than the national margin of error (2 percent), the proportion of white Southern voters with doubts about their president’s citizenship may be higher than 70 percent."
If, indeed, these numbers are relatively accurate, it's nothing short of astonishing. Close to 70% of southern white voters believe that the President of the U.S. is not a U.S. citizen. 70% of southern white voters think the proper action to take with Obama is for law enforcement to bring him in on undocumented immigrant charges.
This kind of remarkable data cannot be explained by just "political paranoia over a new face." Rather, it's political paranoia over a new face that happens to be black.
For 50 years Republican candidates for national office have played the southern strategy race card in their campaigns, appealing specifically to any bitter feelings of resentment lingering in southern white voters minds over racial equality. From the fictitious Cadillac driving welfare queen whom Ronald Reagan baited southern white voters with.....to years of code word usage by Republicans like "states rights" and "urban crime"......to the Karl Rove ugliness in the 2000 South Carolina GOP primary when John McCain's black adopted child was part of a whisper campaign to bait racist voters......the Republican Party, as Pat Buchanan brags about, has used this southern fried race baiting strategy to try to win elections for a very long time.
It's shameful.....but Pat Buchanan says.....it's smart politics. A good strategy. Buchanan argues that 60% of the American population is white....therefore, appealing to that majority through hateful minority-bashing divisiveness..... wins elections.
Perhaps.....but only down in those backward, and bitter....southern fried states.