Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
September 13, 2009

Did You Notice the Obama Cut-Outs* and all the Psycho Joker Obama Posters** at 9/12 Teabag Rally?

teabaggers DC.jpg

When you start seeing representative images like this — the HuffPo photo caption reading: “Demonstrators take photos of an Obama sign placed under droppings from a police horse,” it’s easy to think about the photo below in a new context:

9:12 protest DC.jpg

“Lynch mob.”


Update 11:10 am 9/13: Thinking about it overnight, this post (with first image originally linked to, versus shown) was far too cryptic.

If you look at the first slideshow at this post at Huffington (which is where the linked image above came from), it suggests that the MSM — and I’ve looked through most of the wire images of the event, as well as the NYT and WAPO published staff photos — avoided those signs and scenes bluntly threatening (to) Obama or painting him (with a blatantly racist brush) as a Muslim extremist.

We were hoping to get BNN contributer Alan Chin down to DC this weekend but he got tied up, which is unfortunate because it was this discrepency — the effect of the media filter watering down the tone, the animus — that we were interested in exploring.

A nod, by the way, to Maureen Dowd who notably broke the gentility this morning with her frank comments about Joe Wilson — comments that reflect directly on the visual media’s handling of Dick Armey’s extravaganza (cynically scheduled and branded to appropriate 9/11 and the anniversary, by the way).

She writes:

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

“A lot of these outbursts have to do with delegitimizing him as a president,” said Congressman Jim Clyburn, a senior member of the South Carolina delegation. Clyburn, the man who called out Bill Clinton on his racially tinged attacks on Obama in the primary, pushed Pelosi to pursue a formal resolution chastising Wilson.

“In South Carolina politics, I learned that the olive branch works very seldom,” he said. “You have to come at these things from a position of strength. My father used to say, ‘Son, always remember that silence gives consent.’ ”

The danger of “taking the hard edges” off this radical and racist thrust is to “normalize” the Teabaggers and frame them as far more innocent than they really are.

* (1, 2)

**(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

(Revised 11: 40 am. Added top photo.)

(image 1: unattributed, via HuffPo. image 2:: Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)

  • DennisQ

    These folks are used to being in the majority, but not any more. They could magnify their political clout by seeking real compromises instead of drawing a line in the sand. Political rallies don’t substitute for deal-making.
    It’s a mistake to think that Obama’s been losing momentum. He gave Congress an assignment to do something about the health care mess; and it’s actually coming together. He specifically avoided getting too closely identified with whatever emerges from ongoing negotiations.
    The right is walking into a trap. Because they think that they represent the majority, they’re misplaying their cards. People don’t hate Obama the way right wingers do, and when the right is defeated on health care, they will be too demoralized to put up much resistance afterwards.

  • donna

    Wishful thinking Dennis. These morons are simply never going to STFU. Republicans are at their most obnoxious indeed when they are the minority party.

  • Stella

    Let’s change the perspective from “Lynch mob” to “Losers.” I’m not scared of teabags at all – they are compost to me.
    It bothers me that now it is ‘progressives’ spreading the fear with talk of lynch mobs and asassinations. Please stop it.

  • Wordsmith

    A sea of whiteness…..

  • Wordsmith

    oh, one other thing…
    It bothers me that now it is ‘progressives’ spreading the fear with talk of lynch mobs and asassinations [sic}. Please stop it.
    It bothers you? Where have you been? I live in a very red state, Idaho, and let me tell ya some of the rhetoric I’ve heard ramping up to the election and especially BEYOND is chilling AND it’s not from progressives. It’s from idiots and losers who are forming lynch mobs. Get real.

  • jim

    lots of racism here.

  • boxcar

    All….i was quite proud to see the rally’s, turnouts, posters, and so on that the left/progressive movement did during BuschCo.
    Aside from Firearms and violence turning up on the right, how are these any different? These seem like legitimate forms of political satire/protest to me.
    Albeit, baser and less creative than what much on the left are capable of.
    So now, i don’t see these protests as any more dangerous than what I/we have done.

  • Stan B.

    “Aside from the firearms and violence turning up on the right…”
    As if that alone ain’t enough, I guess you could add they were a trifle less rational and a tad more racist…

  • boxcar

    rationality and racism are subject. not objective; and evolve over time.
    No doubt racism and fear of diminishing white/make/protestant domination of this country is driving much of the hate.
    But i was crying “facism” 6 years ago! Was i more or less rational than the cries of “socialism” now? (I even see the right now screaming we are headed toward facism…man if i could only keep up!

  • Tena

    Not one bit of this has one thing to do with health care reform or even taxes. This has been one long temper tantrum over losing the election.
    Republicans: Worst Losers Ever.

  • Michael Shaw (The BAG)

    Stella, following up on Wordsmith’s point below, see my update to the post. I believe there is plenty to fear — especially with the media soft-pedaling the threat.

  • Wordsmith

    Not one bit of this has one thing to do with health care reform or even taxes. This has been one long temper tantrum over losing the election.
    Damnnnn!! That’s IT! In a freakin’ nutshell.
    Here’s a place (blog) where I found many pics, which seems to be mostly about photography.
    If you can handle a certified wingnut – she has pics here.

  • g

    I have really been trying to remember whether the marches and protests of the left during the Bush administration were this hateful, and I am not sure my memories are reliable. I know there were many parodies, effigies, signs, etc. in the anti-war protests.
    However, that said, there were no protests against Bush until the war, and certainly no protests in his first months in office. And this in the wake of a disputed election. It’s astonishing to me that such personally directed hatred is being expressed by people who claim to be mainstream Americans – about issues of health-care policy. Not about war or law enforcement, about insurance!
    While it’s true that some so-called “dirty f*cking hippies” carried nasty and unflattering images of Bush to protest what they considered an illegal war that was bombing civilians in another country, I can’t recall a parallel situation where 60 year old mainstream Americans threw shit on pictures of Bush over his….(pick a domestic issue) trade policy. Or clean water policies. Or labor. A few months into his term.
    And – repeating – Bush’s presidency was disputed. The mainstream left accepted Bush’s presidency within the confines our the political process, despite the fact that it had been a flawed election. In this case, the election was without question.
    It really is extraordinary. the idea that someone’s grandfather is gleefully throwing horseshit onto photos of the President of the United States is extraordinary.
    and yes – it is indeed one long temper tantrum over losing the election.

  • Wordsmith

    Oliver Willis has a good photo essay up as well, Michael.

  • Tena

    O my god, you have no idea how it terrfies me – I’m from Dallas. I will never forget the day they killed Kennedy. Some of the same rhetoric is now floating around vis-a-vis Obama.

  • Tena

    That is the most breathtaking part of this – the media helped to mainstream these demonstrators and their messages.
    While the Right keeps wanting to stand in the schoolyard and yell: You did it to Bush~ You were awful! they really are trying to draw another false equivalence. Our elected leaders never bought into the more virulent anti-Bush rhetoric online. But the GOP has embraced the same hateful, inflammatory and often violent (Rachael Corrie Pancake Day, anyone?) rhetoric that has been found on right winger blogs since the dawn of blogtime and made it somehow mainstream.

  • yg

    some of them will go on and on upset about energy saving lightbulbs and how that represents tyranny.
    you’re not playing with a full deck of cards if lighbulbs (and teleprompters) counts as a grievance.

  • yg

    i give the “parasite in chief” designer points for effort. though his intended aim is a fail. no wonder the right feels the need distort obama’s face with white greasepaint. otherwise, his inspirationalism seeps through.

  • yg

    what does it say about teabaggers that they have to paint obama white in order to make him look evil?

  • boxcar

    we threw eggs at Prez Bush inaugural motorcade. The protests over Bush (stolen election) were very much ongoing.

  • Tena

    That’s a really good question – I wish some psychologist could answer it because I’d like to know.

  • yg

    funny captioning too.

  • g

    Yes, I know, although that was a pretty small segment. But there was no death-imagery or hatred imagery that I recall from those protests, especially not from so-called mainstream folks.

  • Rima

    To me, the top photo says that the only thing the tea party protesters have to offer is horse sh-t.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes