The right-wing site Free Republic reputedly caters to grassroots American conservatives - at least that's the impression it puts across.
Impressions can be deceiving. If a casual surfer had happened upon a recent comment thread that took aim at president Obama's children, he or she could be excused for thinking that the site catered to racist hatemongers and misogynists - a number of whom came off sounding like far-right white supremacists.
A photo of 11 year-old Malia Obama wearing T-shirt with a peace symbol touched off a hate fest on the related comment thread.
Comments included... "A typical street whore"... "Ghetto street trash." One commentator even speculated... "Wonder when she will get her first abortion?"
An accompanying photo that showed Michelle Obama speaking with Malia included the caption... "To entertain her daughter, Michelle Obama loves to make monkey sounds."
Moderators on the site let the thread stay up for a day. When it attracted negative attention from other sites and became the subject of an emailed complaint, the thread was placed 'under review' only to be returned with comments intact.
The letter of complaint from a Kristin N. was also posted along with her email address.
Site owner, Jim Thompson, wrote: "The writer [Kristin N.] has a point, We should steer clear of Obama's children. They can't help it if their old man is an American-hating Marxist pig."
We're talking about a picture of an 11 year-old kid wearing a T-shirt with a peace sign here when she was out-and-about on a hot day in Italy... and this provokes remarks about whores, street trash and abortions? To describe it as over-the-top is a large understatement.
Here's a sampling of comments:
They make me sick .... The whole family... mammy, pappy, the free loadin' mammy-in-law, the misguided chillin', and especially 'lil cuz... This is not the America I want representin' my peeps.
Could you imagine what world leaders must be thinking seeing this kind of street trash and that we paid for this kind of street ghetto trash to go over there?
Poor kids. I hope they're not 'punished with a baby. Hopefully they won't deal cocaine like the Kenyan.
This disgusting display makes me more and more eager for the revolution...
I never actually wnated [sic] to be a pistol before but...
DIRTBAGS! All of them. Our [White House] is now a joke to the rest of the world. We have no respect and this is not going to turn out well, mark my words. We will be hit, and much worse than last time. We are now seen as weak and vulnerable. Ghetto and Chicago thugs have taken over.
When the thread came under wider scrutiny and drew negative comment on the web, it was again placed under review before being pulled.
None of this should come as a surprise. Right-wing media cultivates these attitudes.
Fox News is one of the chief suspects. During the presidential campaign Obama's name was linked with Osama bin Laden, by 'accident' of course. An innocent fist bump was characterized as a 'terrorist fist jab'. Fox News contributor Liz Trotta even went so far as to 'joke' about Obama being assassinated.
A few days ago, the hosts of Fox and Friends got into a discussion about a Swedish study that found that people who stay married are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's. Brian Kilmeade lamented that Americans "keep marrying other species and other ethnics..." and offered this gem... "Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society." The remark suggests Kilmeade might have a soft spot for eugenics... assuming he understands the meaning of the term.
We keep hearing that the Republican rank-and-file isn't racist, just real concerned. The Joe six-packs of Palin's "real America" don't have a racist bone in their body you know. Check out some pics from recent tea parties and make up your own mind - here.
More evidence of the racism that lies behind the Republican mask surfaced in a recent story on The Daily Beast. It deals with the GOP's latest up-and-coming hater, Audra Shay - the not-so-young chairman of the Young Republicans.
Related Guardian article - here.