You Knew They Couldn't Keep the Racism Covert

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga.:

Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term “uppity” to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said.

Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

It’s what they’ve been saying for weeks — although they’ve been using words like “elitist”  and “cosmopolitan” because “uppity” is, well, racist. The rest of the GOP campaign is too.

It’s going to get ugly, folks.

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24 Responses to You Knew They Couldn't Keep the Racism Covert

  1. 1
    Jake Squid says:

    … they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity…”

    How much do you want to bet that Rep. Westmoreland is in favor of English being declared the National Language? There are so many things wrong with this sentence fragment that I could easily believe that English isn’t Westmoreland’s first language.

    Oh, what the hell. How precisely does one become a member of an individual? What is an “elitist-class” individual? Does that correspond more to “world class” or to “Nimitz class?” Are you, Rep. Westmoreland, claiming that Sen. Obama thinks that Sen. Obama is uppity? Can you support that statement? Or did you mean that the “elitist-class individual,” of whom the Obamas are a member, thinks that the Obamas are uppity? If so, what do you think was the motivation for the Obamas to become a member of that individual? Also, how did the Obamas become a single member of that individual?

    I wish we had journalists who would ask these very hard follow up questions.

  2. 2
    roger says:

    ok it was inappropriate to refer to this politician as uppity especially since the representative is from the south and should know better. i dont excuse her behaviour. to extrapolate this incident to the entire republican campaign is tenuous.

    i saw the messiah ad. perhaps gergen is right and perhaps not.

    this is a campaign. it seems that there is no end to the continual snipping. if the charge is that the candidate cant bowl and believes in his heart that folks are bitter and clinging to their guns and comes off as not connected to the common people, what adjective would be fitting and not a code word for latent racism.

  3. 3
    Decnavda says:

    Why do people who put bumper stickers on their cars stating that they will not give up their guns until they are pried from their cold, dead hands get insulted at the suggestion that they are clinging to their guns?

    And why is pointing out that people are bitter worse than making them bitter?

  4. 4
    Renee says:

    Yeah the Obamas are uppity, they refuse to work as her domestic servants which is the role that she is comfortable with blacks in. It is not getting ugly it down right ugly already. As I watched the convention the last two days I was overwhelmed by the whiteness and the rhetoric. Racism is being used as a tool to trick poor/middle class whites to vote against their class interests. This is a clear lesson in divide and conquer.

  5. 5
    Lu says:

    Jftr, Westmoreland is a man.

    It was a poor choice of words to say the least. What I worry about more is that the “elitist” attacks are resonating. We know which candidate is a child of privilege and which one is self-made, but it’s all about narrative. And Westmoreland will say “I didn’t mean it that way, but, really, orange juice for breakfast? The guy is obviously effete.” And he’ll get away with it, because, as always, IOKIARDI.

    It just drives me batshit.

    (Where is Anita Bryant when we need her?)

  6. 6
    Joe says:

    We know which candidate is a child of privilege and which one is self-made

    I’m going to go with Neither candidate is self made. One was a diplomat’s kid and the other was an admiral’s kid. Both went to ivy league schools. Neither one came from the middle class or below.

    As for the quote, you mean a Georgia Republican said something racist? Must be planning a senate campaign.

  7. 7
    Megalodon says:

    Must be planning a senate campaign.

    No, if he was planning on the Senate, he would roll out the Bin Laden ads and call triple-amputee veterans traitors.

  8. 8
    Eva says:

    Jake Squid – thanks for the grammatical anatomy lesson. Hilarious from “what the hell” on.

  9. 9
    Charles S says:

    Joe,

    You are wrong both in specific and in general. Obama is solidly middle-class, and neither his father, his step-father, his mother, his grand-mother nor his grand-father were diplomats.

    Obama went to an Ivy League school on scholarships and student loans as a transfer student after 2 years at Occidental College (a small liberal arts college in California, NOT an Ivy League). His mom was on food stamps at one point, he grew up with his grand-parents in rental apartments. His mother was an anthropologist, he had almost no contact with father, who eventually became a senior economist for the Kenyan government (and was then forced out for opposing the government’s economic plans). His step-father (with whom Obama lived until he was 10). His grand-mother eventually rose to be the vice-president of the Bank of Hawaii, while his grandfather worked as a manager in furniture stores. Depending on your definition of middle class, vice-president of a state level bank might not count as middle-class , but I’m not sure that your grand-mother getting to be a bank vice-president when you are ten means that you didn’t grow up middle class.

    If Obama had been anything other than an extraordinary individual, there is no way he would have made it to Harvard Law. I don’t know how much McCain’s status as an Admiral’s son paved his way in the military.

  10. 10
    Kate says:

    How much do you want to bet that Rep. Westmoreland is in favor of English being declared the National Language?

    *helpless giggling*

  11. 11
    Tom T. says:

    From the other direction, it seems Harry Reid denounced Palin’s speech as “shrill,” and the other side is trying to make hay with it. Jake Tapper comments that “Apparently, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s office has yet to send out to Democrats that list of verboten words.”

  12. 12
    Lu says:

    I was right: Westmoreland (R-GA) says, “I’ve never heard that term used in a racially derogatory sense. ”

    And he also has some waterfront property he’d like to interest you in.

    (All right, he didn’t mention orange juice.)

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    One was a diplomat’s kid and the other was an admiral’s kid.

    I don’t know about Obama, but when Sen. McCain was growing up his father was a junior officer living in (mostly crappy) military housing on (mostly crappy) junior officer pay. McCain’s dad didn’t make Admiral until after the Senator was no longer a child or adolescent.

    Westmoreland (R-GA) says, “I’ve never heard that term used in a racially derogatory sense.”

    Idiot.

  14. 14
    Robert says:

    Obama grew up fairly hardscrabble; not sure where the idea springs from that he was a diplomat’s kid. He wasn’t.

    McCain’s family was not particularly wealthy but had relatively high social status. He and his siblings were basically raised by their mother, as their father was away for WWII. (Even in peacetime, Navy children don’t see their active-duty parent much, when those parents are on sea duty, as the middle McCain often was.) I would not characterize this as a hardscrabble upbringing but it has its difficulties.

    Neither man had an easy childhood.

    And I agree, Westmoreland is an idiot.

  15. 15
    nobody.really says:

    Why do people who put bumper stickers on their cars stating that they will not give up their guns until they are pried from their cold, dead hands get insulted at the suggestion that they are clinging to their guns?

    And why is pointing out that people are bitter worse than making them bitter?

    You know the old saying: If you want to make people angry, lie to them. But if you REALLY want to piss people off, tell’em the truth.

    Bittergate is a case in point. Why is calling someone “bitter” regarded as an insult rather than just a description? I understand “bitter” to refer to someone who 1) has lost, 2) has unresolved anger about the loss, and 3) tries and fails to avoid expressing that anger. To acknowledge someone’s bitterness is to force the person to 1) acknowledge the loss, 2) acknowledge the feelings, and mostly 3) acknowledge that they’re trying to cover up those feelings, and are failing at it.

    It’s kinda like my comb-over. No, I don’t feel good about the fact that I’m going bald. But as long as I can keep this shameful fact a secret, I can mitigate the pain. Once I must confront the fact that it’s obvious to everyone that 1) I’m going bald, 2) I’m trying to conceal that I’m going bald, and 3) far from succeeding, those efforts have merely drawn attention to the fact that I’m going bald and I’m ashamed of it, then yes, I’m going to be REALLY uncomfortable. And if you’re the vehicle by which I come to feel this discomfort, then I’m going to project my negative feelings onto you.

    After all, a polite person feeds – or at least overlooks – our self-delusions. Forcing people to face themselves may be socially valuable, but it didn’t warrant a chapter in How to Make Friends and Influence People. Isaiah never won any elections.

  16. 16
    jed says:

    When the Republicans stopped catering to the center to pander to the even further right, they no longer had to bear the burden of accountability. They cannot be shamed because they do not care. They lost the votes long ago of anyone who does care. As long as they continue winning more elections than not by leveraging their constituents’ fear and ignorance, they are free to express their prejudices with impunity.

    As Carmen wrote recently on Racialicious: “I’ve seen a couple bloggers I otherwise respect using words like ‘cracker’ and ‘ho’ to describe McCain, his wife, and Palin. You can’t criticize sexist/racist attacks on the Obamas if you’re doing the exact same shit.” – Posted 04 Sep 2008 at 12:00 pm

  17. 17
    Fielder's Choice says:

    Uppity.

    (bull connor)

    I have heard that word so many times for the direction in which we face. In Albany, Georgia. where my wife was forced to have a miscarriage, kicko, right now. And where you demagogues want to jail women who suffer it. He’s firm in his shirt, he’s shiny brown, he’s the toiler brush man and once he is rich you will inherit the earth but he will sell sill yam rather than support his children, you will say, asking up0n the bogeyman of brown to distract Spanish from Wendish, and your daughters will get pregnant by him none because he went to a gay college, and then yer gam will decide who is uppity.

    Martin Luther Koenig, Georgian Lynn Wetmoreland

  18. 18
    Lu says:

    Anyone read Krugman today? The GOP is really, really good at playing on emotion, especially fear and resentment, the latter being the first child of bitterness. Racism is the second child. We underestimate them at our peril.

  19. 19
    hf says:

    if the charge is that the candidate cant bowl

    You can stop there, really.

    Lu: “Republicans and Hezbollah hit on a winning electoral strategy.”

  20. 20
    Jake Squid says:

    Or you can read the racist, christianist anti-Obama screed by Jack Wheeler.

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    I stand corrected about Obama’s background. It’s an assumption I picked up in the primary. Now corrected. (fwiw I checked other places also who basically agree with robert)

  22. 22
    Thene says:

    *just watched Westmoreland’s interview on tonight’s Colbert Report. Oh my god.*

  23. Pingback: I have something in common with Barack Obama « Uppity Brown Woman

  24. 23
    parallel says:

    I think you are misinterpreting the comment.

    As I read it, Westmoreland was complaining that Obama, an ‘elite class individual’, thinks that Sarah Palin is ‘uppity’. I’d concede the phrasing isn’t very clear, but that makes sense to me.

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