There was a time when a man like Barrack Obama would have found himself at the mercy of ugly men in white hoods for even daring to show up at a polling place, much less running for office.
There was a time when such an attitude was open, common and even spoken of approvingly in polite society. It was even recorded in movies.
Then came a black women who sat down at the front of a bus and was just too tired to move. Of course, it wasn't that easy nor simple. Real life never is. But progress has been made. Four years ago, in 2008, we elected a man whose racial heritage was half black and half white to the White House. Federal laws protecting blacks from systemic racism have been in place for half a century and it has become socially gauche to express openly any form of racism.
But now, today, in the year 2012, the 21st century, when all of that ugliness should have faded away like a bad dream, like a bad penny, it's back.
Of course, it's not been blatant. They use code words. Phrases and words which mean, in the wider vernacular, something else entirely, but express racist attitudes and beliefs in ways that allow the speaker and the listener to talk in public as racially offensively as they ever did before without the general public being aware of the gist of their conversation.
But in this election, they're even dropping the code words.
John Sununu has called Obama "lazy", openly on national TV, and refused to walk it back, even when given a free pass to do so. It openly expresses the old stereotype that blacks are lazy workers that the old slave owners had to beat to get them to work. Other examples abound. Even Romney's campaign has used open racial attitudes like that in their ads, and continue to run those ads, even after the racism has been pointed out by third parties.
One is tempted to ask, "Have they no shame?"
But the answer to that is plain. Yes, they do. They are still couching the racism in euphemisms, in ways that at least seem to try to cover the bare racism with a phantasm of cover, however thinly applied, but still, they feel the need to keep it out of plain sight and without using the bare ugly words.
It exposes their fear. It is the fear of the old tired conservative whose values are dying with the older generation and who cannot bear to know the truth. It is the fear that once the minorities become the majority, that they will be treated as they treated the minorities. It is akin to the fear of the slave owners who were fully aware that their slaves would kill them in their beds if they could but successfully revolt.
But it also exposes their shame. They know that society has moved beyond their time and beyond their nastiness and the ugliness of intolerant racism. Their need to hide that raw racist language and that raw emotion and cover it with the thin veneer of political shenanigans proves that their shame is real and has affected their actions and their political tactics. They are aware that the raw racism is no longer politically acceptable in most of the country, and it will result in the loss of the election if expressed openly.
So, they trot out the code words and cover that ugliness with that thin but attractive political veneer of lies to cover their repulsive nature.
These are the actions of cowards. Morally unable to stand up and defend their apparently most cherished values, they cheat, lie and arrogantly strut about thinking that their true feelings are hidden from the sight of the electorate.
Fearful, frightened of their own shadows, they skulk about the political landscape, trying to distract the electorate with crazy statements of religious nonsense, hoping nobody is looking.
Let's hope that on November 6th (NOT the 8th!), the people of this great country stand up and show them that they have failed to hide and failed to distract us. Let's throw the bums back into the sewers they came from.