How Many Racists Are We?

by Diane Dimond on August 2, 2010

Prime Assassination Target


Whether you voted for him or not Barack Obama is the President of the United States.

He is our president. And therefore we should all be worried that he is apparently the recipient of so many disturbing death threats that the FBI has now to create a special and highly secret task force to investigate them all.

Some of the threats, according to investigative reporter and author, Ronald Kessler, who just updated his book, “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,” are believed to be from domestic or international terrorists. But many of the assassination threats are thought to be inspired by good old fashioned, homegrown, evil racism and lobbed by haters who have no real connection to politics.

Author Ronald Kessler

In the first printing of Kessler’s book this highly acclaimed veteran of reporting on national security and intelligence matters revealed that threats against President Obama were up almost 400 percent compared with the average 3,000 threats George W. Bush received each year when he was president. Today, it’s apparently gotten so bad the chronically understaffed and underfunded Secret Service is getting help from this new investigative task force because each and every threat must be diligently checked out. Kessler reports that the evil has spread outward into the upper echelon of the administration and there are now some 40 members of Obama’s team under Secret Service protection, compared to 32 under Bush.

I know some out there reading this will blame Obama’s politics, his programs, his economic, education or health-care wish lists for the rage that spills out in the form of senseless threats. But that doesn’t make logical sense to me.

Klan Thinking Still Alive and Practiced

If one is angry about a politician’s policy stance you vote the man out of office next election you don’t scrawl a death threat about a “free public hanging” and post it on a tree as someone did in Idaho a while back. You don’t plaster a wall with racist graffiti targeting our first African American President as was done near the North Carolina State University campus. And you certainly don’t do what a convenience store employee in Maine did. Namely, invite customers to join a one dollar betting pool called, “The Osama Obama Shotgun Pool.”

No, those kinds of threats and many more the Secret Service and the FBI refuse to describe for fear of inciting copy cat activity come from hatred of other races.

The Obama Presidency was supposed to have marked the start of the beginning of the end to our racial divide. Instead, it seems to have brought out the died-in-the-wool racists we feared were still out there. To be fair, however, once Mr. Obama began to have serious popularity issues his critics were often labeled as racists when they weren’t – they just didn’t like the direction the country was going.

Both situations make me sad.

Underfunded, Understaffed and Overworked

You might be surprised what the Secret Service constitutes a threat. It’s a federal offense, according to the criminal code for “anyone to willfully make a true threat to injure or kill the President of the United States.” What exactly is a “true threat?” It’s anything deemed “serious …as distinguished from words used as mere political argument, idle or careless talk, or something said in a joking manner.”

I was raised to respect the office of the President of the United States even if I don’t like everything the person does and says, even if I don’t like hardly anything the person does or says. I’m uncomfortable with the glib way in which so many of us toss out pithy phrases intended to disparage our presidents. It’s somehow become an almost daily occurrence to hear our relatives, friends and neighbors launch vicious verbal attacks on the occupant of the oval office. Gerald Ford was an ineffective, clumsy oaf. George W. Bush was stupid. William Jefferson Clinton was nothing but a skirt chaser. I can’t think of any recent president hat hasn’t been labeled in some pejorative way. But, with Barack Obama it has crossed a line and escalated into something much uglier and potentially deadly.

The Man Behind the Seal is Everyone's President

I’m all for citizens speaking their mind – in an intelligent way. Complain about the state of our do-little Congress. Yell at the top of your lungs that the White House is pushing a plan that you think will harm our country’s future. But keep it civil and remember when we engage in personal attacks and presidential name calling we tell the world its okay to disregard our Commander-in-Chief. Worse, we teach our kids the nation’s top leadership spot is not important. Most importantly, it denigrates the office for every other president that comes after the one we don’t happen to like at the moment.

The discourse as it stands now diminishes us as a people. And if the criticism crosses the line – and assassination is the center point of the discussion – it’s criminal.

Pass it on.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane August 2, 2010 at 10:57 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Martha Glenn writes:

“I just felt motivated to thank you after reading your article that appeared in today’s ABQ Journal asking people to keep their comments on whoever’s President civil. It was refreshing to read something calm, true and respectful. I so wish more people could somehow get back to those characteristics when it comes to weighing in on anything related to this country. I cannot tell you how often I have thought to myself just how ugly people’s spirits have become, then often followed by similar actions. It is very sad and discouraging. It makes me worry for my own 5 year old son and what I have inadvertently hauled him into…
I voted for Obama. I think the man is genuinely trying to do his best. We may not all agree with him and he will make mistakes. However, at least he is thoughtful in his actions and endeavors to communicate his reasoning on a consistent basis in an extremely respectful way. I think he’s an amazing role model on a national platform and I will always be thankful for that at the very least. Why do we have to vilify and crucify him or anyone who takes up the job of President? While it may be the ultimate leadership prize of a job with great perks, it is also a thankless one and nowadays, a dangerous one. I was not a fan of the previous Mr. Bush and feel that he often acted impulsively, narrowly, and arrogantly. That being said, though, I would never have wanted the man to be killed and would not have liked it if that bottom feeder Limbaugh had called for him to fail as President also. Comments like that disgust me and make me wonder how people at large don’t immediately dismiss anyone who acts and talks in such a way. Again, it is extremely disappointing.
So, that is why I appreciated your article so much, I wish more of the media would speak to that theme and related ones. The media is so powerful. I am generally not a “media basher” because it truly does “take two to tango” and I think people are the other side of the media coin. So it’s not fair to just simply blame the media. People need to look in the mirror. That being said, articles like yours flex the common sense and calm, thoughtful “muscles” that we all need to use more often. I would say most of the articles you write “use those muscles.” So I thank you for that and ask you to keep up the good work.”


Diane August 2, 2010 at 10:58 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Harry Hart writes:

Being ‘civil’ should be a “given” in any society or culture but unfortunately our political system is stuck with “political parties” that have agendas and manifestoes that go contrary to the very nature of our Constitution…; And, the American “fifth estate,” in my lifetime, has failed to do it’s job properly in the dissemination of information about political candidates for high office so where do we go from here?!
It’s my belief that the “common person” out there knows that we have a Federal government totally out-of-economic-control and that elected officials from the President on down have become “Barons” in medieval fiefdoms of their own political party’s making!! The “common man” is coming to realize that he is a “serf” in a system that allows it’s President to play golf when there are numerous crises to take care of but doesn’t in a timely fashion! Also, this President abuses the wealth ‘given’ to this office for his personal aggrandizement such as allowing “the first lady” to “vacation” in Spain at the tax payer’s expense or snacking on $100./pound Kobe beef at cocktail hour!!
Yes, we should be civil at all times but when there’s an abuse of power it must be addressed in a timely fashion otherwise the “unwashed and hungry” will eventually “revolt” and we have History to confirm this fact!!
November 3rd can not come fast enough…!

Harry Hart
Albuquerque in the Banana Republic of New Mexico, USA


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:00 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Robert Lopez writes:

” In my book, respect is not something that comes automatically attached to a title. The greater responsibility falls on the individual to respect the position or the office. Unfortunate, this no longer is the case.
The trend now is to take advantage of the title or position and try to further a personal agenda.
To give you a better idea of what I mean and as Henny Youngman would say, take our present New Mexico governor….please! This man has created and caused more havoc for the residents and taxpayers of New Mexico and has been described as being the most corrupt public official since New Mexico became a state in 1912. Do I respect the office of governor? Yes I do. Do I respect the man? Hell no!
The same sentiment applies to Obama. In my opinion, both men have shown nothing but contempt and total disrespect for the voters, enabled simply by the office they hold!
If I were to come face to face with either of these individuals, my first inclination would be to spite right in their faces, but I would simply look them straight in the eye then turn and walk away. I would not even welcome a handshake.
The office does not make the man but the man can and does disrespect the office. How sad that the biggest liars and crooks on the planet are the so-called public servants that are suppose to be the guardians of our country.
Neither man has bothered to earn my respect as a taxpayer, a voter and least of all, as a person.”


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Dear Mr. Lopez –

I sure hope you exercise your right to vote! I hope everyone out there does. Remember, if you don’t like the politicians in office YOU can act to remove them.



Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Creators Syndicate Web Site Reader David Henricks writes:

” Diane Dimond__I agree that the Office of the President is to be respected. But, any man who has lied to We The People as much as this man warrants no personal respect. Wanting this President gone [from office] is NOT the same thing as wanting him dead. As long as there are people on this planet, there will be extremists. Lumping the rest of us, (300million plus) who are angry with this President’s agenda of destroying our Country, in with a handful of nuts no more makes us racists than “all black people are…. whatever”. Just because a few wackos (yes, a few, out of millions) want him dead does not demean us as a Nation. Please. Use a little perspective. Your article smacks of leftist journalism, when you use a one-size-fits-all scenario to defame the rest of us. “


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Dear David,
You’ve read my columns and commented on them for a long time now. You know I’m not a “leftist” leaning writer.
You, as others who’ve commented here – take the topic in a different direction than what I’ve written about.
I’m simply pleading to keep separate the feelings about THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT and the person who actually OCCUPIES THE OFFICE.
Continually demeaning the President – whomever it might be – does no good. Vote the bum out if you don’t like him/her!
The worst action is INaction. Vote!


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:07 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Dave Rider writes:

“The last two paragraphs of your article as it appeared in our paper today say it all, but no matter how well written, it is disingenuous. Why? Because where was this finely crafted article when the last real American President was being vilified far beyond anything even remotely civil. You leftists called President Bush everything but a human and blamed him for everything bad since the ice age. You hung President Bush in effigy, spat upon him and called for his death more than once but that seemed to be okay, but now…. oh now we have a Kenyan thug in the most respected office in the world and you are crying for us to be civil towards the man(sic) who wants to tear this country to shreds before he invokes sharia law.

Being retired military I took an oath many years ago to uphold and defend the CONSTITUTION and the Office of the President of the United States and I still hold to that, but as I see our freedoms being quickly eroded away by the anti-Americans (congress and POTUS) on Capitol Hill nowadays there is no way I can have any respect for them in any form or fashion.

To you and your ilk I say NEVER. I respect the OFFICE but not the interloper who pretends to be “president.” Despicable.

Yours in “respect”
Dave Rider
Albuquerque NM


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Mr. Rider,
I resent your tone and I reject your comment that I am a “leftist”. You obviously haven’t read many of my columns or you wouldn’t label me as such.
You’re also a walking advertisement for excatly what I’m talking about here. We, as a people, are so used to slinging mud the second we read something that contains a buzz word we don’t like. I use the word “racist” and you automaticall paint me as a “leftist”. Or maybe because I referred to President Obama – was that your clue that I must be next to a communist? And, you accuse me of not sticking up for similar criticsm of a Republican President? You are quite wrong. And if you’d like proof you can read a collection of my past columns here: – columns that caused others to call me a “right-winger” – a “Limbaugh Loving” zealot and worse.
We need to stop the knee jerk reaction in this country and actually revert to the principles upon which America was founded: Everyone is free to apply their own brand of common sense, to think the way they want without fear of being harangued for their beliefs.
You sir, are the problem … the closed thinker who is quick to judge others and paint them as the enemy.
We are all Americans we need to start acting in the best interest of this country.

Diane Dimond


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:19 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Elizabeth Keen writes:

You just had to break out the race card. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

Elisabeth Keen


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Ms. Keen,
In my opinion only ignorant closed minded people find it hard to discuss sensitive or uncomfortable topics.
Racism is one of those topics.
You may think its cute or funny or clever to post the little tidbit link that you did.
That’s unfortunate. I think we need a much deeper and more meaningful discussion of racism – and what it can lead to (i.e. assassination of our President)
Perhaps my column is not something you should read in the future. Probably Comedy Central’s web site would be more to your liking.

Diane Dimond


Elisabeth Keen August 3, 2010 at 12:20 am

You write a column about civility. You could just stop by saying you think people should be more civil in their comments about the President. But you don’t. You intimate that anybody who makes an over-the-top comment about President Obama must be a racist. I object, say you should be ashamed for breaking out the race card yet again, and try to use a You Tube clip to illustrate my frustration at how often anyone who criticizes Obama or a Democrat is accused of being a racist.

Then you respond in the standard “civil” manner of our elitist, Obama-protecting journalist class by calling me an ignorant and close minded individual who should not attempt to participate in your supposed deep and meaningful ruminations about racism and who should limit her interactions to Comedy Central.

Wow. Just wow!


Diane August 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Facebook friend Chris FitzGerald writes;

“Thank you for that column. I have tried to convince my conservative friends that the casual contempt of Obama in unprecedented and part of the spectrum that includes the hate speech by people like Glenn Beck and Limbaugh – you said it better and with less heat than I could manage. I pray for Obama’s safety daily in my morning devotions.”


Stephanie August 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I just want to say that I enjoy reading your blogs about the events occuring in America. Now, although I don’t disagree with the point of this article, there’s just a few things I want to say.

The whole “racism” debate… surprise, surprise, there are racists in America. It goes both ways. People “hate” Obama because he’s “black and ruining our country”. People hated Bush because he was “white and ruining our country”. I wish this topic wouldn’t even be brought up. Not everyone is going to agree. All we can do is go back and forth defending our reasons for thinking the way we do.

As you’ve stated, Obama was not the first president to receive death threats. Of course there’s a whole lot of wackjobs in the world who would probably try an assassination if they could, but there are some people who exagerate when they say, “Obama needs to die.” Luckily, there’s a task force involved with handling this threats, both extreme and insignificant. I would wish that for any world leader, whether I agreed with their policies or not.

There’s just one statement you repeated throughout the article that I wanted to bring up… voting disliked officials out of office. Of course, this is what we need to do if we feel the situation calls for it. But we have to wait four years in this case to do so. We had to wait for Bush, after thousands of our soldiers died across the ocean. Now we have to wait for Obama, after thousands of people continue to be unemployed and after those who do work start paying for ones who refuse to.

Every president has had groups of people hating their policies and goals. But they’ve all had at least one positive outcome of their term. When the bad outweighs the good, all we can do is wait and vote.

If people want to “hate” Obama, it should be because of his actions (or inaction), not because of the color of his skin.


Doug Mould August 16, 2010 at 7:48 pm

The vitriol seen in some of the posts speaks exactly to your issue. There is no mirror image to that of the conservative media outlets such as Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News, etc. and the uncounted conservative/fundamentalist radio commentators. These folks have done much to create the sort of atmosphere in which being irrational and verbally abusive is normative.

Now, President Obama was handed a plate of an economic disaster, an underfunded an ignored war in Iraq and an increasingly virulent Republican conservatism. Given those, I think he has done an outstanding job. If he has made a mistake, it was that it was possible to be bipartisan. The conservatives have made it clear that it is more important to make his a failed presidency than to do what will benefit the country. According to Karl Rove, civility is for losers.

I should also note that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking the reemergence of extreme right-wing and racist elements for more than ten years. This has all been implicitly and explicitly encouraged by the conservative media, as noted above.

So, you are correct, there needs to be a return to civility; I will acknowledged I have been dismayed by the extreme criticism of the President on the left–see Firedoglake–but most of the incivility does come from the right, which has become more and more extreme.


jeff liddell August 23, 2010 at 5:09 am

And Newt Gingrich said Nazi’s should not be allowed to put a sign next to the holocaust museum, and the Japanese should not erect signs next to Pearl Harbor and “Radical Islamists” should not build two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center disaster. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” These are the words on the Statue of Liberty, it does not imply anything about race, creed, color, origin or religous affiliation. This country was made great by the diversity of the people that came here and that is what will keep it great as soon as everyone gets past the political rhetoric from those who want excessive power and those that have it. Let me close with the last stanza of the song “If I had a hammer” by Pete Seeger

“Well I’ve got a hammer
And I’ve got a bell
And I’ve got a song to sing
All over this land
It’s the hammer of justice
It’s the bell of freedom
It’s the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land”


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