Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's Okay to Lie About Black People

If there's one thing that can be learned from this year's presidential election, it's that, in spite of the great progress our nation has made over the past century in terms of race relations, it's still socially acceptable to lie about black people. In fact, you can tell a bold-faced lie about a public black figure and get away with it. Even when your lie is exposed, you won't be called to account for what you have done. You won't suffer any consequences. People will still believe what you said. If you don't believe me, then just look at the case of John McCain and the GOP, who are now realizing that they can say just about anything, true or false, about Barack Obama and get away with it.

Example #1: McCain, Obama, and Taxes
Senator McCain and his team are quite fond of claiming that an Obama administration would raise taxes on the average American family. This is just not true. Now, of course, in a presidential election we expect both sides to do a little (OK, a lot) of truth bending to make themselves look really good and the opposition look really bad. However, what McCain has done consistently is nothing more than a straight-up lie. According to, an independent fact checking organization, McCain has shown a “pattern of deceit,” in ads that are “plain wrong about higher taxes on working families.” And when they say ads, they mean multiple ads in multiple languages.

Here's more from

Overall... Obama’s plan would produce a tax cut for 81.3 percent of all households, and a cut for 95.5 percent of all households with children.
Under Obama's plan... people (or couples) making between $37,595 and $66,354 a year would see an average savings of $1,118 on their taxes. Under McCain's plan, on the other hand, those same individuals would save $325 on average — $793 less than the average savings under Obama's plan.
However, there seems to be no stomach in the mainstream media for calling McCain's attacks what they are – a lie. You can imagine, my senses were heightened to this in an environment that has already seen Senator Obama smeared as a radical Muslim, a hater of white people, a terrorist, and the Antichrist.

Example #2: Change About Nothing
Voices from the right have repeatedly claimed that Obama speaks about “change” and “hope” without ever speaking about what specifically that change would be. However, Obama does talk in specifics about what he would do as president. And if what he gives you in speeches isn't enough, he's got a whole website with sections devoted to policy detail.

But, of course, calling him long or words and short on detail fits into a longstanding stereotype of blacks as being stylistically gifted but substantively lacking, so the lie stands.

Example #3: Obama vs. Palin on Experience
John McCain had the audacity to go on FOX “News” Sunday and claim that his new VP pick, Sara Palin of Alaska, has more executive experience than Obama, pointing out that “When she was in government, he was a community organizer.” Only that's not true. McCain LIED! The Associated Press points out that when Obama was a community organizer, Palin was a news anchor. Now, let me ask you, which job gives more executive experience? He also stated that she “has had enormous responsibilities, none of which Senator Obama had.” Sure, because being a city council member, a mayor, and a governor in a remote, isolated, underpopulated corner of the globe is the same as being a community organizer, state legislator and U.S. Senator from the third largest city in the nation. The AP article also notes that McCain brought up the issue of Obama's “present” votes in the Illinois state legislature, which, while not a lie, were quite misleading.

What is my point here? I'm sure that if the Democrats had nominated someone else, someone less black, for president (oh, let's say Joe Biden for fun) there would be some truth bending and even some lying going on. However, it's the response that's disturbing. McCain would never get away with doing this to some 72-year old white male war hero. Yet, today, McCain's inability to tell the truth about his opponent still is not a major headline. I still don't hear reporters asking him why he has told so many untruths, or if he would like to withdraw the statements he has made that have been reported to be untrue. In fact, even when I hear these falsehoods reported on, there seems to be no will to call them what they are: lies. But that just means that now, as has been for the entire history of our nation, it's OK to lie about black people.

UPDATE (@ about 3:36 pm):
First Read's Mark Murray points out that McCain has also been very misleading in his claim that Obama has given tax breaks to oil companies. According to independent fact checking, the very bill that McCain is referring to resulted in a net tax INCREASE on oil companies. More lies.

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