Thursday, June 19, 2008

Obama Button: Racism or Insensitivity?

Just when you thought people couldn't get any dumber about a Black man running for President, they up the ante.

Remember when some fool down in Georgia started selling t-shirts likening Barack Obama to Curious George? While many rightly called it racially insensitive - if not outright racist - to compare a black man with a monkey, there were those, including the fellow who was selling the shirts, who said that they didn't see them as racist. And the general response was to wonder if (a) they were trying to get a World Record for being disingenuous or (b) they'd been living under a rock for the last century.

Well, it's happened again: the fellow who runs (and, amusingly enough,, too) sold copies of a button saying "If Obama is President... will we still call it the White House?" at the Texas state GOP Convention.

The response was uniformly critical, if not foaming-at-the-mouth furious -- especially from the Texas GOP, who told the fellow in no uncertain terms he wouldn't be welcome at their convention ever again.

Unlike the clown in Georgia, the owner of the stall has at least had the decency to apologize. However, one thing he said is sticking in my mind:

In a telephone interview from Florida, Mr. Alcox acknowledged the controversy but said it was unintentional.

“Obviously, it’s been offensive to people. It was not meant to be that way. We’re into humor - not racism,” Mr. Alcox said.


He said after having a conversation with a black man who called him about the blog post, he came to understand more about the nerve he had hit.

Now, maybe it's just me, but you'd think that someone would have had enough sense to visualize a pin like that, think about it, and realize that it carried enough of a racial charge to piss people off for the wrong reasons.

You'd also think that someone who's savvy enough to sell humorous wares to both sides of the Republican/Democrat divide would have a better grip on what works and what doesn't when it comes to acceptable humor.

But then, this IS someone who, at, sells a button saying "Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Deportation" and "Life's a Bitch - Don't vote for one". So maybe we're asking too much, here.

Maybe people should take a deep breath and try to engage in a little sense and sensitivity? Is that really so damn hard? It saves you a lot of explanations and excuses, and saves you from a lot of bad press.


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