The notion of the first black President in the history of the United States has become very real over the past couple weeks. So much so that we are now beginning to see both Barack Obama’s opposition (in both parties) and the media engage in a very vicious and mean-spirited word-smithing that seeks to subtly unearth some of the worse memories in American history, for the purposes of invoking fear and lunacy on the eve of a historical occasion. Psychological warfare is a big part of politics. Who has the most money, the most endorsements, the most votes, the most delegates, the most “momentum” plays large in positioning, or re-positioning candidates. Those who hold psychological advantages have a different type of swagger than those who don’t. When the obvious advantages are not apparent, candidates seek to create some not so obvious ones to justify their existence. The obvious advantage we’ve witnessed in the last six years of the Bush administration is fear. The politics of fear, fear of “what might happen in a post-911 environment” got a highly unpopular President re-elected. This time around, “fear” is a two-edged sword. White people’s fear is what might happen if Obama is elected as the first African American President of the United States. Black people’s fear is what might happen to Barack if he’s elected the first Black President of the United States. For the most part, white fear is largely unfounded, based on historical xenophobia rooted in perpetual stereotypes of black inferiority some whites cannot seem to rid themselves of. For the most part, black fear is solidly founded, based on historical tragedy rooted in America’s lunacy of lynching, mobbing and targeted assassinations that have deferred African American equality dreams and full investiture in American society.
Much has been made of Hillary Clinton’s recent assassination comments stated while comparing her decision to stay in the race with historical races that ran through June. As haphazard and nonchalant as she (and the media) tried to make them appear, it was the type of word-smithing that is rooted in a racial codification that signals endangerment and the threat of supremacist pathology of times past. Hillary’s inference that the only way she can win is if “something happens” to Obama, and to wave the lunacy flag, “Remember RFK” as if to say “Remember The Alamo” is psychological warfare at its most blatant. Clinton’s verbiage is not proper, just cogent in promoting fear.
John McCain’s codification, while not as damning as Clinton’s, is not much better. To suggest that Obama’s “inexperience” doesn’t make him suited for the Presidency, infers that Obama is not “smart enough” to be President. It’s on record that McCain has a real disdain for Obama, but experience is just one criteria for a leader. Both Clinton and McCain have very heavy “negatives” that most acknowledge are problematic across the electorate, yet they run even with Obama. Largely because some white people can’t get over their “inferiority complex” as it relates to black people-any black person-and their fears play against supporting an obviously superior candidacy in Barack Obama. McCain dismissive statements combined with Clinton and Huckabee’s impolitic statements (both know threats against Barack life are real) send subliminal messages to some lunatic that thinks they are being patriotic or standing up in some other symbolic way to save “the American way” of life. Assassinations have played out all too real role in American history and to even infer one is possible sends the wrong “signal” if we say times have changed. Or sends a “right” signal to some lunatic waiting for a cue.
The mind games some people are prepared to play with America’s political future are limitless (as we saw in the aftermath of the 2000 election). Psychological warfare and racial cueing are not mutually exclusive of each other. Both seek to find weaknesses to exploit. One in human frailty, the other in human fears. Both can produce lunacy.
Some words we can’t let people play with and some assertions for staying the race are unacceptable. Not if you’re waiting for someone to be killed just so you can win.
– Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum ( and author of the new book, Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. He can be reached at

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