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Racism could sway the election

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Credit R. Wallace “Wally” Hudson, chairman of the Mecklenburg County (Va.) Republican Committee, with demonstrating how new social media platforms can broadcast ancient hates.

The Post reported this week that the county GOP’s Facebook page had displayed for months photos portraying President Obama as a witch doctor, a caveman and a drug dealer.

Ah, life in post-racial America.

Virginia’s Republican Party chairman, Pat Mullins, ordered the offensive photos be taken down. But Hudson, who acknowledged posting most of the images, stood his ground, saying he didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “We know our regular readers, who are good conservatives,” he told The Post on Tuesday. “They’re gonna get a kick out of it.”

Who better than Ol’ Wally to know?

Sadly, the Mecklenburg GOP’s disgusting images — which have since been removed — are not an isolated case of ugliness.

Baylor University assistant professor Mia Moody did a study of social media stereotyping of Barack and Michelle Obama; her findings appeared in the journal New Media & Culture.

Moody researched hundreds of Facebook groups and pages. She found numerous examples of the president and the first lady being targeted with racist and sexist rhetoric that, not surprisingly, also indirectly spread hatred toward women and blacks.

She uncovered pages with titles such as “I don’t discriminate, I hate the white part of Obama too,” and “Yes, I hate Obama because he’s black.”

She also found groups that claimed to be motivated only by politics but whose sites still led to racist rhetoric.

The mission statement for one such group stated: “No! I don’t hate blacks! I just think Barack Obama is a terrible president.” Its page posed the question: “Don’t you just hate it when people call you racist because you hate Barack Obama? Do they ever consider that Barack Obama may just be a [expletive] president?”

Moody observed that, while the group professed to dislike Obama not because of his race, most comments on the page attacked the president “personally with racial slurs.” Just one example: “Obama needs to step down and go back to Africa with the rest of the coons!! He’s nothing but a jigaboo and spear chucker!!”

That site, Moody wrote, was archived and later removed from Facebook.

She found others that resorted to demeaning stereotypes. One doctored photo that Moody cited featured President Obama holding a can of Welch’s grape soda and wearing stereotypical garb such as heavy jewelry and a baseball cap. The caption asked, “Where all the white wimmin at?”

In response to the photo, Facebook members posted comments including “I think i [urinated in] my pants,” “haha awesome pic,” “the welch thing should be koolaid not grape juice! and there should be a watermelon and chicken farm in the back!”

Facebook members, Moody said, also targeted the first lady with racist rhetoric. One person wrote, “Chilin wit Moochelle Obamaa. You see Barry is a good man he gave Moochelle chitlins and peanut butter for breakfast.”

Another Obama portrayal Moody discovered: “1st thing Obama does in the morning. . . . bow to Allah. 2nd . . . log on to rasmussen.com to check his polls. 3rd . . . Attend/organize next fund raiser. 4th . . . Compose smoke and mirrors rhetoric for his Facebook page. 5th. . . . Repeat.”

Someone posted in response: “You forgot [to] pry the piece of chicken or watermelon out of Moochelle’s mouth.”

Moody found that some Facebook pages build on ideas that black people are different from members of the dominant group. Several photos showing Michelle Obama dancing drew comments about her “always jigging.”

One group called “Obama Sucks” primarily served as an outlet to post fake photos of the president. One picture featured him wearing a bandanna and gold teeth. The caption: “OBAMA Going For The African American Vote.”

Moody found that many Facebook hate pages also focused on cultural narratives. Some photos depict Obama or his family as animals, particularly apes. One picture showed male and female apes holding an infant ape with Obama’s face superimposed on it.

Tasteless. Disrespectful.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Last month, a 21-year-old Miami college student was sentenced to three years’ probation for posting threats against Obama on Facebook.

Read his Feb. 21 posting: “Who wants to help assassinate Obummer while hes at UM this week?”

On Feb. 23, the day Obama spoke at his school, the student wrote: “If anyone going to UM to see Obama today, get ur phones out and record. Cause at any moment im gonna put a bullet through his head and u don’t wanna miss that? Youtube!”

How many like the Mecklenburg Republicans and this college student assassin-wannabe are out there? What are they going to do on Election Day?

More important, what are you going to do?

kingc@washpost.com

Read more on this debate from Opinions: Norman Ornstein: Why Obama doesn’t need to be more Clintonesque Charles Lane: In America — and politics — race still matters Harold Meyerson: In modern GOP, the old South returns Dana Milbank: Romney’s welfare gambit

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