Posted by: Shaun | May 13, 2008

Dark undercurrent on the campaign trail: racism

A disturbing piece out of the Washington Post today recounts the reaction from some voters encountered by many of Senator Barack Obama’s campaigners while making their rounds.  The story offers many anecdotal accounts of hostility and racial slurs like this one:

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was all she could take: “It wasn’t pretty.” She made 60 calls to prospective voters in Susquehanna County, her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn’t possibly vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!”

It also notes that, in spite of the experiences of campaign staff, gathering objective data on the racial attitudes of voters is difficult.  Thankfully, American society has made some progress since the days when publicly expressing overtly racist views was socially acceptable behavior.  However, if the experiences recounted here are true, there still much further to go.

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