25 Feb 2008 10:22 pm   //   Filed under: In the news, Media

Obama and the bigots

obama.jpgOver on my work blog, PDNPulse, I have a post today about a photo of Barack Obama in Kenya.

The 2006 photo of Obama wearing traditional Somali dress on a visit to Kenya surfaced recently in a supermarket tabloid, made its rounds on the blogs, and ended up on The Drudge Report today. Hillary Clinton’s campaign (accused of distributing the photo) has issued a number of vague statements of outrage, communicating little but ensuring that the photo remains a story people are talking about. Based on the blogs I spent part of my afternoon reading, the photo has a lot of resonance among bigots, haters, and people who seldom travel beyond the confines of their comfy suburban homes.

Some think the success of the Obama campaign proves American has moved beyond ignorance, racism and bigotry. I feel good about the Obama campaign and want to believe this is true. But at the same time, we are constantly exposed to political discussions that sound civil but are in fact grounded in a fear of people unlike ourselves. Listen for it the next time people are talking about defending our country from non-specific or vaguely known enemies. Bad politicians exploit this kind of fear. It’s why some see a picture of Obama wearing a headdress as proof that he’s unpatriotic, sympathetic to terrorists, or other nonsense. It’s politics that exploits people’s wrong-headed prejudices. Get ready for nine more months of this.