“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr. Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Perhaps we can’t say it enough. I personally have made light of it, uncomfortable , sardonically swiping at the candidate and foot soldiers, noting ironically how this all boils down to resentment that there’s an African-American in the White House.
But again, when thoughtless (yet tactical) racial animus comments like these are made in the presidential campaign, do we not call it what it is? To say ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage’ in this context is being esoterically cute and patently racist. It is. Don’t sugar coat it. Don’t couch it in false equivalencies. The language is racist. Coded to signal to me, American of African descent, that the identity of the Republican candidate for President is more vital than the actual policies and competency in governance for the nation.
Perhaps here for posterity’s sake, I’ll point to Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison’s definition of race talk from her 1993 Time Magazine article ‘On The Backs of Blacks’, just so we’re all clear about what race talk is:
‘the explicit insertion into everyday life of racial signs and symbols that have no meaning other than pressing African-Americans to the lowest level of the racial hierarchy.’
To say Anglo Saxon is to say white and implicate the privilege and power that had been the norm in American life and history for nearly two centuries. And it’s a brilliant strategy. An anonymous off the record comment from a campaign source. The campaign doesn’t respond to the Telegraph’s inquiries if they wish to recant the story (they don’t). The language is nebulous, conditional, unaccountable – so wonderfully part of the language of corporate culture - ‘if’, ’anyone‘, ‘weren’t reflecting the views‘. If the candidate and leadership in the Romney camp thought this language shameful and damaging to Romney, the language of rebuke would take a clearer line, with usage of a definitive pronoun like ‘we‘ in lieu of ‘anyone‘. The spin doctors were at peak work last week, taking aim at Biden, for quoting a source they never corrected.
*sigh* We’re not clueless.
It seems the Republican Party and its cohorts have been struggling for the past four years to find unique ways to draw lines between black and white, American and American, birth certificates and religious beliefs. We get it. There’s a black man in the White House. Yet there wasn’t a rip in the space time continuum. The Obama administration actually did some stuff (Affordable Health Care Act, Economic Recovery Act, killed Bin Laden, just to name a few).
In the context and climate of the wave of voter suppression through voter ID laws in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, I’d caution the Republican (growingly obsolete) party to tread carefully in their continued strategy to inflame the heart of their base through racial animus. The language smells of fear that a Republican can’t fight the contest for the highest office in the land without ridiculous amounts of cash against a high voter turnout from folks vulnerable to voter ID laws.
The ‘othering’ of Obama (and me, my friends, many of mixed ancestry) is an old and weak argument, in the face of growing questions of Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, missing records of wealth, waffling of positions in health care reform…. Most of us know this, perhaps I’m preaching to the choir. But here’s the thing: call them on their bullshit. Yes, “racist” and “racism” are loaded, emotional, dirty, angry words. But the word doesn’t negate the fact that it exists in our language and sadly, informs some action. To call the campaign on it, anonymous source or not, is something we must do. We must be vigilant in responding.
An aside: Rachel Swarns’ book, American Tapestry, released earlier this summer recounts first lady Michelle Obama’s ancestry. It’s a riveting read following post civil war Americans, emancipated slaves, northern migration, hard working Americans by circumstance and history leading us to the first African American woman as first lady. One of her ancestors is white, and linking to that fact bears a responsibility and confrontation with the mixed ancestry of many Americans. Some of our forebearers were slaves. Some of our forebearers owned slaves. Some of our forebearers mixed. If your family has lived in this country for more than 3 or 4 generations, this is probably true. Do us all a favor and own that fact of your heritage. It’s 2012. I do. My family has been here for 200 years. A branch of it is Anglo Saxon. The stakes are too high not to.
- >byLucy Madison|July 25, 2012 10:22 AM |
(CBS News) As Mitt Romney kicks off his European trip Wednesday with a visit to London, the Romney campaign is dismissing a report from the U.K.‘s Daily Telegraph that an adviser to the campaign made comments suggesting the Republican presidential candidate’s commitment to rebuilding the so-called “special relationship” between England and the United States has to do with a sense of “Anglo-Saxon heritage.”
According to the Telegraph, the adviser suggested that Mr. Obama could not understand the depth of the relationship between the two countries because he cannot fully appreciate the shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage.”
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Romney, according to the Telegraph: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
(Romney speaks at the VFW convention on Tuesday.)
Andrea Saul, Romney’s press secretary, disputed the comments and emphasized that they did not reflect the beliefs of the former Massachusetts governor.
“It’s not true. If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign,” she told CBSNews.com in an email. Saul did not comment on what specifically was not true.
Later on Wednesday, Romney elaborated on her response, asked about the quotes in an interview with NBC‘s Brian Williams.
“I’m generally not enthusiastic about adopting the comments made by people who are unnamed. I have a lot of advisers,” he told Williams. “Actually we’ve gone from calling the rope line where I shake hands every day to the advice line. Because you have a lot of people that offer advice. So I’m not sure who this person is.”
Romney added: “But I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain. It goes back to our very beginnings — cultural and- and historical. But I also believe the president understands that. So I- I don’t agree with whoever that adviser might be.”
Despite questions about the identity of the source, liberal commentators seized on the quote for its racial subtext: That Mr. Obama cannot understand the depth of the relationship between the two countries because his father is from Kenya.
In a statement, Vice President Joe Biden charged the Romney campaign with using the trip abroad to “score political points.”
“Despite his promises that politics stops at the water’s edge, Governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his [advisers] were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy,” he said in the statement. “This assertion is beneath a presidential campaign.”
David Axelrod, a top campaign adviser to the president, called the quotes “stunningly offensive” on Twitter.
“Mitt’s trip off to flying start, even before he lands, with stunningly offensive quotes from his team in British press,” he wrote.
(Romney on the campaign trail.)
The Romney campaign, meanwhile, hammered Biden for paying credence to the quote, and accused him of attempting to “divert voters’ attention with specious shiny objects.”
“Today, the race for the highest office in our land was diminished to a sad level when the Vice President of the United States used an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign. The President’s own press secretary has repeatedly discredited anonymous sources, yet his political advisers saw fit to advance a falsehood,” said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams in a statement. “We have more faith in American voters, and know they will see this latest desperate ploy for what it is.”
Per the Telegraph, this adviser and others quoted in the story spoke anonymously because they were not authorized by the Romney campaign to criticize Mr. Obama to foreign media.
Watch the videos from the Article:
|One unnamed adviser in the Telegraph story, allegedly a member of Romney’s foreign policy advisory team, also accused Mr. Obama of being “a Left-winger” who is “very comfortable with American decline.”When asked specifically how policy toward the U.K. would differ under Romney “the advisers could not give detailed examples,” according to the Telegraph. “One conceded that on the European crisis: ‘I’m not sure what our policy response is.’”|
|We need to “Take this Country Back”, [there's this statement]…with Tea Party support! It’s all because of what this Monster has done to this country, we have to have you as President [racist statement from the that audience] …What an idiot!|
- Lucy Madison | Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. |