To be clear, DePass’s remark was racist, and there’s no way to spin it otherwise, as he first tried to. Racist jokes have become commonplace since Barack Obama’s election, and, sadly, they keep popping up in Republican quarters…
These fliers, jokes and antics are not isolated incidents but are part of an ugly subterranean culture of entrenched racism. Living in South Carolina the past 20 years, I’ve noticed that people who say racist things never think of themselves as racist. What that means, of course, is that they’d never act on their attitudes. They might even find the N-word offensive.
But they’ll make racist cracks as DePass did — or circulate fliers that portray the Obamas in demeaning ways. Seen the image of the watermelon patch in front of the White House? Or the display of Obama books at Barnes & Noble in Coral Gables, Fla., with the book about monkeys slipped into it?
DePass is hardly alone. But he has been thrown to the lions in a sort of spontaneous cleansing ritual. After decades of shame for the state’s original sin — not to mention providing a butt for the nation’s jokes — South Carolinians are tired of being embarrassed.