Toure, the self-proclaimed racial expert, has a new column at Time today in which he explains that the election of Barack Obama has made white people violently mad. “Historically,” he writes, “after a surge in black power there is a retort, a reassertion of white power. After emancipation and Reconstruction came Jim Crow. After the Civil Rights Movement came the rise of mass incarceration, which Professor Michelle Alexander calls ‘the New Jim Crow’ because legalized discrimination against ex-convicts means that they lose all the rights won in the Civil Rights Movement.”
So far, so stupid. Toure’s right that after emancipation and Reconstruction, the South was largely left to its own devices, and quickly instituted Jim Crow. But that was a reaction not to increased black power but to the North’s failure to carry forward Reconstruction. The South never accepted the Union victory and decided, “Hey, let’s treat black folks with dignity.” They simply waited for the Northerners to go away. As far as the supposed “mass incarceration,” that would be incarceration of criminals, both white and black, who forfeit rights when they commit felonies. Portraying the rise in crime after the Civil Rights Movement as a failure of white folks who just wanted to smack down the black man is insulting and absurd.
But then Toure gets to the real point of his article: George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin, and the racially-motivated shooting spree of Jacob England and Alvin Watts in Tulsa represent the backlash to Obama:
Now in the wake of the rise of Obama, we see the power structure responding by continuing to implement voter ID laws tailored to functionally disenfranchise poor blacks. We see an increase in violent crimes that target blacks but not specific blacks, any black person will do. So we get people driving cars into blacks in Mississippi and now this in Tulsa. These violent manifestations of hate are not isolated incidents.
The anxiety about Obama’s success has led to many reactions, most of them not physical but still emotionally violent.
This is patently insane. White people elected Obama. Statistically speaking, 54% of young white voters went for Obama; 43% of white people total voted for him, 4% more than voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, 1% more than Gore in 2000, and 2% more than Kerry in 2004. Obama essentially recreated Clinton’s coalition, including a larger percentage of white voters than any non-incumbent Democrat since Carter.
But angry white people are apparently wandering the streets looking for black people to beat up. Never mind that George Zimmerman is a registered Democrat. Never mind that federally-investigated anti-black hate crime victims dropped precipitously when Obama became president, from nearly 3,600 victims in 2008 to about 2,900 in 2009, to 2,765 in 2010.
This isn’t about some supposed upswing in racist hatred from white Americans. This is all about politics for Toure and his ilk, who seek to make the case that dislike of Obama is dislike of blacks more generally. The implication: if you don’t support Obama, you’re a racist. You’re a softer version of Jacob England. Sure, you don’t pick up a gun and murder black people. But you would vote against Obama, wouldn’t you?