Mama Grizzlies' claws come out on race

OPINION - Sharron Angle once participated in a campaign against black jerseys for a high school football team on the grounds that the color black is "thoroughly evil"...

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin passionately defends Dr. Laura’s racist rant and use of the “n-word” on the radio. Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle thinks the color black is “thoroughly evil.” And Orly Taitz hates President Obama so much that a federal judge fined her $20,000 for filing frivolous lawsuits challenging the president’s citizenship.

What’s going on here?

There appears to be a new women’s political movement brewing in America these days, but not at all a healthy one for women, or politics, or for black people for that matter. I’m talking about the “mama grizzlies”— including Sarah Palin and the women who admire her, the women in the Tea Party and the birther movements. And there are the women running for office from the far right wing of the Republican Party—the only wing that seems to remain of the party of Lincoln, not to mention Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, and Mary McLeod Bethune. But that was another time and another place.

Whenever you look around, it seems that one of these “mama grizzlies” has something horribly tasteless and offensive to say about black people. The question that we must ask is: is there something inherently anti-black about these loony ladies of the right?

There’s no question that Sarah Palin, in those days of the 2008 presidential election campaign, brought attention to these new women of the right and elevated them from obscurity. As the Vice Presidential running mate of John McCain who was able to see Russia from her house, Palin saw a black-socialist-Muslim radical in the form of Barack Hussein Obama, and she didn’t like what she saw. She said Obama was “palling around with terrorists” and he did not see the U.S. like other Americans. Such talk stirred up the crowds at the McCain-Palin events, which often doubled as retro pro-segregation pep rallies, with twenty-first century upgrades (fear of a black president as opposed to fear of integrated schools). One woman in one of these crowds was so emboldened that she told McCain Obama is “an Arab”, to which McCain responded in disagreement, angering the mob, or rather crowd.

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Recently, Palin defended Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the radio host who repeatedly used the n-word on the air. Dr. Laura claimed she quit the show in order to “regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what is on my mind.” She fails to realize that her right of free speech involves protection from the government, not from a listening public that is rightfully outraged by her racist diatribe, or a radio network and advertisers that do not want to be associated with a racist.

On Twitter, Palin tweeted “Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t American,not fair”).” Later she added, “Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

But this is not new for Sarah Palin. Back in 1990, after a black musician struck up a conversation with Palin—then Sarah Heath—in a fast food restaurant, Palin allegedly told the man and his fellow band members “Excuse me, but I don’t mess with black men.”

And now that people such as Palin have muddied the waters, there are other women who have dared to take it to another level.

If Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle, the Tea Party favorite in Nevada, loses against Sen. Harry Reid, the reason will almost certainly be her talking. Angle once participated in a campaign against black jerseys for a high school football team on the grounds that the color black is “thoroughly evil” like the devil. One can only wonder what Angle must think about black people. Perhaps Angle really is like the Founding Fathers as she claims, after all.

One loony lady of the right uses the legal system as a platform to express their hatred of black people. Orly Taitz—a prominent figure in the insane asylum known as the birther movement, which claims President Obama is a foreigner—filed a series of lawsuits challenging the President’s citizenship. A federal judge fined Taitz $20,000 for filing frivolous claims. She appealed to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and even Thomas wouldn’t go there. The full court denied her claim without comment. Taitz may have lost the battle in court, but she won the war of public opinion, at least among those “low information” (that is, ignorant) voters: One in four Americans believes Obama is a Muslim, and 41 percent of Republicans believe he is foreign born.

Meanwhile, some “honorary” mama grizzlies are known not as much for their incendiary and racist comments as for they refuse to say or do. For example, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman refused to attend a forum of black and Latino churchgoers. And of the $50 million she has spent on radio, TV and print ads, not a penny went to black media. By contrast, the atypical GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina showed up at a Juneteenth event in South Central Los Angeles wearing a kente cloth.

The wildcard in all of this is Nikki Haley, the GOP Tea Party candidate for governor of South Carolina. Poised to be the Palmetto State’s first female governor, Haley really hasn’t made any racist comments that would qualify her as a mama grizzly. And her tax problems and affair rumors aren’t too important for the purposes of this analysis. However, she has done something objectionable to win her an honorable mention: she is guilty of self-hatred, which makes her anti-black, in a way. Haley is a Tea Party candidate of Indian descent, in a movement that hates people of color, foreign cultures, Arabs, Muslims and those who are perceived Arabs or Muslims. Plus, the party faithful love to disparagingly depict President Obama in a turban, and Haley is of Sikh heritage.

Like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, she conveniently changed her name to something “whiter” and converted to Christianity. Of Haley, state Sen. Jake Knotts said “We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need another in the Governor’s Mansion.” I am stumped on this one, and can only assume that the fair-skinned Nikki Haley is popular because many South Carolina voters missed the memo, and actually think she is white.

Like it or not, the mama grizzlies are here. Perhaps it was due to circumstance. Maybe it was a concern that racist men were doing more than their part to solidify America’s image around the world as a hopelessly backward, and intractably bigoted nation. Regardless, hopefully this American political phenomenon, along with the Tea Parties, birthers and other fellow travelers, will fade away.

But in the meantime, these women can go toe-to-toe with their male counterparts in playing the dozens on African-Americans and calling black folks out of their name. And when you are just as obnoxious and racist as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rand Paul, well, that is saying quite a bit.