Once is an isolated incident, but twice is something else entirely. Less than 24-hours after the rapidly imploding Wendy Davis campaign in Texas warned that the interracially married Greg Abbott may just try to ban interracial marriage as governor, Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) supporters in North Carolina are also engaging in a bit of inelegant race-baiting.
The North Carolina-based Fayetteville Observer reported on Monday that churchgoers in Cumberland County were appalled on Sunday when they were treated to an image of a Jim Crow-era lynching on a flyer warning of what may occur if Republicans take control of the Senate.
The front of the flier blares: “Kay Hagan doesn’t win! Obama’s impeachment will begin! Vote in 2014.”
The words are superimposed over a grainy reproduction of a photograph of what appears to be a lynching.
Someone tucked the flier under McNair’s windshield wiper while her car was parked at her church, Kingdom Impact Global Ministries on Murchison Road.
“My daughter said, ‘Mom, look in the background. They’re lynching somebody.’ It’s the lynching of an African-American man,” McNair said.
At the bottom, the flier reads, “Not endorsed by any candidate. Paid for by Concerned Citizens of Cumberland County.” No contact information for the group was on the flier.
This, via The Daily Caller, is an image of one of the disturbing fliers:
Fortunately, according to a local NAACP representative, likening the unlikely impeachment of the president to a time when African-Americans were systematically murdered by white mobs is not racist. “That’s what the community feels,” said Fayetteville NAACP branch president Jimmy Buxton.
This is the kind of cheap desperation that would set every MSNBC anchor’s hair on fire and dominate the nightly newscasts if it were embraced by a Republican candidate’s allies. At the very least, if Hagan were a Republican, the media would press her to denounce her supporter’s tactics until she buckled. But beyond being baseless provocation, both this message and Davis’s attempt to get you to believe Abbott will somehow overturn Loving v. Virginia are just insultingly dumb.
There is something of a bias in American culture to not want to hurt people’s feelings, but some feelings deserve being hurt. If you believe that a Republican Senate majority will lead to the return of Jim Crow, or that Greg Abbott could ban interracial marriage if he wanted to, you are unschooled, do not possess even a rudimentary understanding of history or civics, you are either hopelessly gullible or pathologically paranoid.
It is difficult to imagine this manner of attack gaining much traction because the baseline level of stupidity or childlike naïveté one must suffer from in order to buy into them is simply difficult for most to maintain. There are certainly a few takers, but attacks like these almost always backfire. It is a rather dimwitted strategy to launch a political assault so likely to boomerang on the attacker, but that would also explain why they might think their audience to be as thick as they are.
It is a mark of maturity to avoid insulting others unnecessarily, even if they arguably deserve it. There are, however, some activities that deserve shaming. The claims above are truly shameful, and the public will be best served if these and other offensive tactics are called out for what they are.
This post has been updated since its original publication.