A vile caldron of hatred

By Courtland Milloy
Tuesday, September 21, 2010; 10:41 PM

Why do so many people seem to be hoping that the presumptive D.C. mayor-elect Vincent Gray will fail? Predicting it. Betting on it. Just-you-wait-and-seeing on it. Declaring that his victory in the Democratic primary last week was "devastating" to black children, as Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee put it, and that the city is already heading "backwards."

"Once again D.C. returns to the days of corruption, graft, and incompetence . . . and the D.C. voters only have themselves to blame."

You'll find thousands of comments like that posted anonymously on The Washington Post Web site, alongside news stories and columns about the election. The volume of similarly expressed thoughts is so great as to give the impression of a massive mind meld, intent on subverting Gray by sheer force of ill will and contempt.

Gray, whose victory over Mayor Adrian Fenty probably means the departure of Rhee, and Gray's black supporters are now right up there with President Obama as targets of white, racist sentiment not seen publicly expressed since the 1950s.

"Let us hope that the splendid Ms. Rhee will get a job with people on her level - Phillips Andover or Exeter, Choate, Dalton. She was a class act and she had to deal with slime. Let's hope she gets a job where she can deal with kids with 100 IQs or even higher," one poster wrote.

There was no shortage of white people denouncing so-called "black racism" during the D.C. mayoral campaign. Any concern expressed for the way low-income black people are being displaced from the city was interpreted to mean that blacks don't want whites moving in.

Complaints that Rhee cannot communicate with black people as effectively as, say, Police Chief Cathy Lanier, and that maybe a more qualified black superintendent could do a better job, are taken as evidence of black prejudice against Koreans.

But this torrent of racist views aimed at blacks and expressed ad nauseam through mainstream media garners hardly a peep, except from black people.

"I'm an African American who grew up in D.C. and if this is an example of what the 'new educated residents' are bringing to this city, we are in big trouble," one poster wrote.

"I feel very sad, it is like listening and reading the comments made after Obama was elected. I wonder how long it will take before someone starts to question Gray's birth place," another wrote.

"These comments demonstrate the polarizing effect of Rhee. The polarization of attitudes doesn't matter to or for her. But it has had and may continue to have a devastating impact on the necessary debate over education and the important decision-making and planning that lie ahead. Very sad," still another wrote.

Such postings generate more bile from fans of Fenty and Rhee. And although there are also crude postings from Gray supporters, they don't come close to matching the Fenty faction in quantity or potency.

"The Adrian Fenty loss is only the latest evidence that while African Americans will happily mouth the expected cliches about wanting good schools for their children; they really do not want to pay the dues. . . . In a way, they are reminiscent of their own dim witted teenage children," one poster wrote.

How did Fenty and Rhee attract so many hateful people?

Is this the bitter fruit of Fenty's attempt to scare white voters with his made-up Halloween story: Vote for Gray and, poof, Marion Barry will appear trick-or-treating at your door? Or Rhee scaring black voters by posing on the cover of Time magazine with her broomstick?

"All the wonderful progress made by Fenty is wiped out by one stupid move by the D.C. electorate. For the first time D.C. has professional managers working for D.C. . . now they will all be fired or be asked to leave, simply because they aren't African-American," one poster wrote.

Are we to believe that such people really wanted Rhee to stay because they care so much about educating poor black children-the "low rent trash," the "dim wits"? Do the prognosticators want Gray to fail because they think he might actually help the poor - and not them?

The continuing stream of insults lingers over the political landscape like smoke from a witch's flying broom. But it too will vanish, along with those who blackened the sky. And Gray will succeed, surprising the naysayers even more than he did last week.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company