Based on the statistics of the rise in hate groups since our first African American citizen became the first African American President, is it any wonder the armored bus commissioned by the Secret Service looks a little like it was made with Darth Vader in mind? The Agence France-Presse from The National Post had this to say about the new bus:
“CANNON FALLS, Minnesota — President Barack Obama’s limo is a “Beast” but his new bus is a (sic) even more of a monster.
The U.S. leader swept onto the campaign trail Monday with a sleek and even sinister looking set of wheels with blacked out windows worth US$1.1-million.
The shiny, black armored bus, bristling with secret communications technology, with flashing police-style red and blue lights on the front and the back, made its debut on Mr. Obama’s three-day tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
The vehicle was commissioned by the Secret Service, which has always hired buses for election campaigns and retrofitted them to provide suitable protection for presidents and rival party nominees.
But the Service decided to commission its own vehicles, reasoning that the initial total outlay of US$2.2 million for two buses would soon pay for itself over a projected 10-year lifespan.”
But is there more to this monster bus than meets the eye? Could it be that this particular president requires more protection than any of the others before him? Based on reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery Alabama, a place that knows all too well the dark history of the persecution of African Americans at the hand of white people, perhaps this bus is necessary to help keep this president alive.
In a report from 2008 from this website even before Obama was elected it was becoming obvious that having a black man in the white house was creating quite a stir.
“With the selection of Barack Obama as the first black Democratic nominee for president seeming more possible by the day, racists and white supremacists are posting increasingly ugly and even threatening remarks on the Internet.
“OBAMA WILL DIE, KKK FOREVER,” concludes a Feb. 15 post by “Rodney” to a blog run by a person identified only as Strider333. Above that signoff, Rodney wrote: “The KKK or someone WILL assassinate Obama! If we get a NIGGER President all you NIGGER’s [sic] will think you’ve won and that the WHITE people will have to bow to you[.] FUCK THAT.”
In Snellville, Georgia a school bus mate told Denene Miller's 9-year old daughter the day after the election: "I hope Obama gets assassinated." That very same night, someone vandalized her sister-in-law's front lawn and destroyed her Obama front lawn signs. The hate crime culprits also left two pizza boxes filled with human feces outside her front door.
Change for some people will not come easy. The fact that an African American has been elected president is the most profound change in the form of race since the Civil War. Hate crimes have existed for a very long time, and getting to the root cause of them may not come easy. The election of Barack Obama has made hate crimes more visible.
There have been other hate crime incidents since the Obama election.
Four North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression. They wrote: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head."
Standish, Maine also had a hate crime incident where a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store said: "Osama Obama Shotgun Pool." Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed.
Hate crime graffiti was discovered in Long Island, New York where two dozen cars were spray painted with racial hate messages. Second and third grade students in Rexburg, Idaho were on a school bus singing "assassinate Obama."
In Mount Desert Island, Maine black figures were hung by nooses from trees in a show of more hate crimes since the election. And in New York City a black teenager was attacked and beat with a baseball bat on the night Obama was elected by four white men in another hate crime incident.
With the rise of these hate crimes since Barack Obama's election, some experts are viewing racism as a type of "cancer." Believing that hate crimes and its components will never be totally wiped out. William Ferris, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina said: "Someone once said racism is like cancer, it's never totally wiped out." Maybe the election of Barack Obama will help to eradicate hate crimes altogether and we can all just get along.”
And Timesonline continues exposing the rash of hate crimes since Obama was elected:
“Barack Obama’s election as America’s first black president has unleashed a wave of hate crimes across the nation, according to police and monitoring organisations. (sic)
Far from heralding a new age of tolerance, Mr Obama’s victory in the November 4 poll has highlighted the stubborn racism that lingers within some elements of American society as opponents pour their frustration into vandalism, harassment, threats and even physical attacks.
Cross burnings, black figures hung from nooses, and schoolchildren chanting “Assassinate Obama” are just some of the incidents that have been documented by police from California to Maine.
There have been "hundreds" of cases since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.
The phenomenon appears to be at its most intense in the Southern states, where opposition to Mr Obama is at its highest and where reports of hate crimes were emerging even before the election. Incidents involving adults, college students and even schoolchildren have dampened the early post-election glow of racial progress and harmony, with some African American residents reporting an atmosphere of fear and inter-community tension.”
Even though it’s true that The Southern Poverty Law Center has had their hands full since Barack Obama declared his candidacy, they are keeping vigilant about exposing the hateful racist rhetoric streaming from all corners of primarily Republican or Tea Party circles, in an effort to counteract and preempt any serious attack against this president. Based on some reporting, they are still on an uphill battle as is apparent in an exerpt in this article:
“But despite those historic Republican gains, the early signs suggest that even as the more mainstream political right strengthens, the radical right has remained highly energized. In an 11-day period this January, a neo-Nazi was arrested headed for the Arizona border with a dozen homemade grenades; a terrorist bomb attack on a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Wash., was averted after police dismantled a sophisticated anti-personnel weapon; and a man who officials said had a long history of antigovernment activities was arrested outside a packed mosque in Dearborn, Mich., and charged with possessing explosives with unlawful intent. That’s in addition, the same month, to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, an attack that left six dead and may have had a political dimension.
It’s also clear that other kinds of radical activity are on the rise. Since the murder last May 20 of two West Memphis, Ark., police officers by two members of the so-called “sovereign citizens” movement, police from around the country have contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to report what one detective in Kentucky described as a “dramatic increase” in sovereign activity. Sovereign citizens, who, like militias, are part of the larger Patriot movement, believe that the federal government has no right to tax or regulate them and, as a result, often come into conflict with police and tax authorities. Another sign of their increased activity came early this year, when the Treasury Department, in a report assessing what the IRS faces in 2011, said its biggest challenge will be the “attacks and threats against IRS employees and facilities [that] have risen steadily in recent years.”
Despite the hateful rhetoric coming from some radical right-wing extremists, there are a few people of faith who want to wage a counter attack, but one based in tolerance. We need more people like The United Methodist advocates against racism to bring balance back into our American discourse.
“By John Coleman
A number of United Methodist advocates against racism view a new report citing a record number of hate groups across the United States as unsurprising evidence of continuing problems, but also some progress, in the nation’s struggle to end racial bigotry.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), based in Montgomery, Ala., says there are more suspected hate groups in the United States now than ever in recorded history. The SPLC annual survey revealed 926 active hate groups in 2008, a 4 percent increase from the year before and a 54 percent increase since 2000, when there were 602 such groups. That spike comes as no surprise to nearly a dozen United Methodist leaders queried by the denomination’s General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR).
Most respondents see the disturbing trend as refuting dubious notions that the problem of racism has been solved in light of the 2008 election of the first African American U.S. president, Barack Obama. Indeed, researchers at SPLC concluded that Obama’s election likely contributed to the rise in racist hate groups and to a record number of assassination threats against him as president.
“No question there’s been a backlash after the election,” says Mark Potok, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “But it still says a lot for our country that we elected an African-American president.”
“Officials reported that Obama had received more threats than any other presidential candidatein memory,” according to Intelligence Report, a quarterly SPLC magazine that monitors hate-group activity, “and several white supremacists were arrested for saying they would assassinate him or for allegedly plotting to do so.”
“Sadly, it does not surprise me,” wrote the Rev. Andy Oren, a Milwaukee pastor who chairs the Wisconsin Conference Commission on Religion and Race. “While the election of President Obama has been hailed by many (obviously a majority of voters!), it has fueled the flames of racism within many as well.”
The Rev. Taka Ishii, a Japanese-American pastor of an interracial congregation in Golden Hill, Conn., and a GCORR board member, sees a reactionary fear of the unknown at work among many who join hate groups. “We see this African American president in the media every day, and although a majority of us celebrate his election, some are afraid of his presidential power and believe something awful might happen to them. It is fear of the unknown because he is not white.”
Two other key factors seen as contributing to a growing number of hate groups are the failing U.S. economy and vocal opposition to the growing presence of undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic/Latino. The immigration controversy has been an ongoing source of hate-group recruitment, but the election outcome and the worsening economy, including fear over loss of jobs and homes, bolstered those numbers in 2008 and no doubt, continue to do so.
SPLC found that the three largest racist hate groups are the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis and Skinheads. They also determined that five states had the most hate groups:
South Carolina: 45
Georgia and New Jersey: 40 each
Alaska and Hawaii had no reported hate groups. New Mexico, North Dakota and Maine had only one.
To read full version of this story visit General Commision on Religion and Race."