It is obvious to anyone who has paid attention that Barack Obama has been demonized by the right-wing. He is regularly referred to as a "Keynan anti-colonialist," birthers rave that he was not really born here, and others shriek that he is a secret muslim terroirst!
It appears that this demonization has gone to new extremes. I checked out some of the seasonal Halloween stores the other day and found the mask you see in the above picture.. The mask was called "Barackula." It is normal to make and sell masks of political figures, I have not, however, ever seen one as a vampire. This mask is not an isolated incident, the image of Barackula has been used fairly regularly by the far right, as a simple Google search will reveal.
And look at the picture: Obama is here portrayed clearly has a bloodthirsty demon. I can't help but see racism behind the image. The reason I see racism here, is that the stereotype of African-American physical features are the very features that seem to be cruelly twisted into the the disturbing and demonic features of the vampire. And, then, of course, there is this image form a Tea-Party rally:
Before some reader protests that portraying Obama as a vampire is not racist, remember three things; first the vampire is regularly portrayed as an embodiment of the frightening "other." For instance, in Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Count is clearly a foreign and alien power who has come to destroy all that is good about "our" British society. Now, and this is my second point, I've not seen other Presidents portrayed as demons or vampires. I grant, however, that it could have been done. If anyone knows of such a case, please point it out to me. Finally, I could avoid reading "Barackula" in terms of "the other," and the "alien," were it not for the already mentioned hysteria about his Kenyan ancestry, and the lunatic conspiracy theories that he was not born here. It seems likely that the mask is part the fears of some people who see Obama as an alien force, threatening "real Americans."
If this is an instance of racism, it may very well be about Obama's perceived "Muslimness" and not his "blackness." I am even willing to believe it merely reflects anger at "liberals" - though I suspect all three biases are at work here - but it is clearly a demonization. If any of my readers are prepared to see the mask as something intended to simply be funny, look at the image again. The face is cruel, nasty, and terrifying.
But what do my readers think? Am I right to fear that racism, or, at the very least, tremendous hatred of Obama is manifested in this Halloween mask?
Personally, in light of the tradition of portraying "the other" as a vampire, the xenophobia and racism of prominent groups who oppose Obama, and the actual appearance of the mask, I find myself greatly disturbed and can't help but ask the question if this image does not cater to that kind hostility towards our President. In the end, I am strongly inclined to think that it does appeal to the demonization of Obama constantly spewing forth from right wing extremists.