Freeper Madness and Young Republicans: Racism Rears Ugly Rear End


Update 2: Michael Shaw at HuffPo thinks everyone except the racists should be ashamed of themselves, including us.  He says we escalated the story, and then tweets by Shuster, et al, took it to 11.  I’m not sure how that works, though, since we reported those tweets, and the attendant escalation.  In other words, we reported what Shaw reported, only sooner and more accurately.  Shame on us.

Update:  The plot thickens.  Gawker reports that Chris Parry, the Vancouver Sun reporter who broke this story, was also a blogger for Daily Kos, and has suggested, in the past, posting hate speech and blaming it on conservatives.  This does little to change the facts in this story, as Parry could hardly have pulled, then reinstated, the offensive thread.  It might mean a rough week for Parry, though.  Parry responds here. Two high-profile stories about the intersection of racism and the Republican Party are exploding all over the internet.  The flap over comments at Free Republic and the Young Republicans’ election of a new president make for a sour cocktail this weekend. Most of the heat is being generated by this Vancouver Sun story about the comments on a Free Republic article featuring 11 year-old Malia Obama:

“A typical street whore.” “A bunch of ghetto thugs.” “Ghetto street trash.” “Wonder when she will get her first abortion.” These are a small selection of some of the racially-charged comments posted to the conservative ‘Free Republic’ blog Thursday, aimed at U.S. President Barack Obama’s 11-year-old daughter Malia after she was photographed wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign on the front.

You might think that this is the same as the lame attacks that Bill O’Reilly levels at commenters on DailyKos and/or Hot Air.  There are key differences.  The Sun report says that the offensive comments overwhelmingly outnumbered those critical of the vitriol, but the real problem is this:

After attention from other blogs, the thread was suppressed and placed under review, but before long it was returned to the site intact, and attracted a new series of racial slurs when the original complaint email was posted publicly to the site, with the sender’s email address intact.

So, they knew about the comments, put them back up, and apparently made the complainer a target for harassment. Very ugly.  Eventually, they took it down again. As disgusting as this story is, it didn’t stand to hurt Republicans that much on its own.  Freepers are not exactly considered the bellwether of mainstream conservative thought. Then, even after an impassioned plea by very young Republican Meghan McCain, the Young Republicans elected a new president with serious racism problems


The Young Republicans faced a stark choice at their convention in Indianapolis yesterday as they chose their next leader: a center-right twentysomething interested in greater outreach, or a self-described “true conservative” who is almost 40 and spent last week dealing with Daily Beast reports about her beliefs, which are, at best, often hateful, and at worst, downright racist. The delegates, in a vote of 470 – 415, chose the latter.

Fair or not, the effect of these two stories is devastating.  Already on Twitter, I’ve seen comparisons of the Freeper story to the Letterman/Palin feud, with liberals asking where the conservative denunciation is.  The Young Republicans story serves to neutralize the “few bad apples” rationale on the freeper story. As a liberal with a lot of conservative friends, I hate to see conservatives get painted, en masse, with this brush.  While this makes them understandably defensive on the subject, that defensiveness can lead to tone-deaf handling of these situations.  While some liberals’ idea of the GOP as the Ivory Soap of racism is way off the mark, many conservatives are also in denial about their party’s race problems.  The truth, as they say, lies somewhere in the middle. On the issue of racism, the truth can be elusive.  I think there’s always more racism, in general, than white people think there is.  On the other hand, I think there’s a lot less of it in the Republican Party than most liberals think.  Part of the perception problem that  the GOP has today is that the Democrats have a black President.  Where else are the racists supposed to go?  Just because most of the racists belong to one party doesn’t mean that that party is mostly racists. Still, when your party stands in opposition to policies that are seen as benefitting minorities, this kind of thing can really be damaging. I’ll tell my liberal friends exactly what I told conservatives who asked me where the liberal outrage was on the Playboy story:  Give it a minute.  This story broke on a Saturday afternoon.  Two of my conservative friends who write for very influential blogs just heard about it this morning, from me. To my conservative friends, I hope their reactions, and those of the Republican leadership, veer away from the kind of persecution complex stuff that Newsbusters’ treatment portends, and closer to this.  This story is already drawing attention from media heavy-hitters like Jake Tapper, Major Garrett, and David Shuster.  The conservative response can be a big win. As for the Young Republicans, I think Meghan McCain’s got their number.


  1. Unbelievable. And on it goes–tell me, has the term ‘ugly American’ been introduced into the Dictionary yet? If not, this should easily get it in there.

    I will not aim my remarks at one party or another–my remarks are aimed at the individual, or individuals, who write such tripe. Are they so desperate for attention that they have to take aim at an eleven year-old girl?

    This is the kind of shit that defies even politics–this goes to the very heart of what is wrong with America. We are becoming a very cruel, heartless nation–look how we treat our own nation’s children?

    Those who want to compare this to the Letterman/Palin flap should be reminded of the differences: Dave made a mistake in daughter’s names, and was making remarks about Palin’s ‘adult’ daughter (not that this excuses the lameness of the joke itself). Furthermore, if this is to settle that score, Americans have really sunk to a new low. It was Obama himself, back in the campaign days, who said let’s leave the kids out of all this–good advice for one and all, including comedians. There is enough material amongst the adult politicians for comedians and journalists, do they really need to go after the children of those politicians, children who had no say in their parents’ career decision?

    I agree with you, Tommy, we should stop trying to pigeonhole every member of each side for the actions of but a few fringe elements that run through both. Again, just another validation for my stand on being politically undeclared–I would never want to associate with any political party that resorts to these sort of vile methods of ‘recruitment’ such as it is.

    This is something that ALL of America should be ashamed of, regardless of politics. America, how do you expect the world to respect you, when you can’t even accord the most innocent amongst your own people that same respect? Pitiful.

  2. The thing is, the Freepers don’t deserve the attention. Have you ever read through that sludge-pile? It’s apparent to anyone that only the sickest among us get their kicks there. I’ve had an entire post stolen and re-posted there in its entirety, then ripped to shreds in the most vile terms by more than 75 commenters. So what? They scream to each other, but nobody’s listening. Or should be listening. The Vancouver Sun must be really short of stories this summer.

  3. Dittos to PCL.

    This was offensive, and I for one strongly object to any politically connected kids being used by the press, or internet blog sites. Kids of politicians are just that, kids. While I am not a fan of the peace symbol, this is the child of the First Family, and they deserve to be allowed to be kids, and wear whatever.

    As to the racial components of this, it is beyond my understanding why Republicans, or a Right leaning blog would ever have anyone affiliated with them who has made disgusting racial statements. The Left already perpetually screams we are racist, bigots and homophobes. So why in the name of Sam Hill would you want to give the Left a “see I told you so” meme to beat Republicans about the head and neck with? This is political stupidity of the highest order! UGH!

    This is all a foot meet gun moment to me. FYI, I do not read the Free Republic.

  4. Ah, Freepers. Just when we thought it was safe to go back on the internet…

    Is the memberlist under FBI surveillance yet? I remember them saying very dodgy/creepy/Whoa There things not too long ago. This, too, is unacceptable.

    Kids are off limits. Period. And making a big stink over a peace sign on a shirt is as dumb as making a big stink over an Autobots insignia on a shirt. Is anyone anti-peace? Considering kids her age are wearing shirts that read “Die corporate scum” (seriously) and so on, “Peace” is a pretty uncontroversial statement.

  5. Also, “Freeper Madness” should definitely be a tag. Because that movie was silly and paranoid and fearmongery, and so are Freepers.

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