One more problem for Senator Obama to worry about. Apparently the senior ranks of the Secret Service are filled with people who like to make racist comments and jokes, one of which involved the fantasizing about an assassination of Jesse Jackson:

Secret Service supervisors shared crude sexual jokes and engaged in racially derogatory banter about blacks, and passed around an anecdote about a possible assassination of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, according to internal e-mail disclosed in a federal court filing on Friday by lawyers for black Secret Service agents.

. . . The messages were written mainly from 2003 through 2005, and were sent to and from e-mail accounts of at least 20 Secret Service supervisors. […]

The disclosure of the messages follows an incident last month in which a noose was found in a room used by a black instructor at a Secret Service training facility in Beltsville, Md. Agency officials said that episode was under internal investigation. […]

A March 3, 2003, message describing Mr. Jackson as the “Righteous Reverend” was passed among several Secret Service supervisors. The message, about a missile striking an airplane in which Mr. Jackson and his wife were traveling, concludes, it “certainly wouldn’t be a great loss and it probably wouldn’t be an accident either.”

Another message contains what one Secret Service official said was a joke referring to interracial sex. The joke circulated in February and March 2003. It was sent, according to the lawsuit, by Donald White, who heads the Presidential Protective Detail, to Kurt Douglass, an agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Cincinnati.

This does not exactly fill me with warm and fuzzy thoughts, especially when you remember that not so long ago stories were appearing that Obama’s Secret Service detail had been incredibly lax with respect to security at his campaign appearances in Texas:

DALLAS — Security details at Barack Obama’s rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department’s homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order — apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service — was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena’s vacant seats before Obama came on.

Makes you wonder, does the Secret Service get its white candidates for employment from the same pool of applicants as the LAPD? Is Mark Fuhrman now one of their consultants? Not that I am very surprised by that there are racists employed by the Secret Service. You can find them in any large organization, whether a government agency or a multinational corporation. I’ve worked at several law firms where senior partners (and a number of other lawyers) made no bones about their negative, stereotypical views about African Americans (at least when none of the black lawyers in those firms were around). I’ve heard more than my share of racist jokes from other lawyers over the years, at least until I mentioned that my wife was a member of a minority and I didn’t care for such humor.

Still, it is disappointing that racism is so rife within the senior ranks of the Secret Service, racism that, allegedly (according to court documents filed in the discrimination lawsuit by black Secret Service agents), is tacitly approved, or at least actively ignored, by its senior officials.

If the Obama candidacy has done nothing else, it has exposed the raw bigotry towards non-white Americans that lies just under a thin layer of civility to which many white Americans point when they claim that racism and racial prejudice are no longer significant problems in our society. of course any non-white American could tell you otherwise, while laughing at anyone so naive as to believe racism is fading away. On the contrary, there has been a strong counter-current of racist ideology and behavior that has opposed the legal advances we made during the Civil Rights era. For that is what they were, legal victories, not a complete makeover of the hearts and minds of white America.

And that counter current of racism has grown ever stronger and more transparent since the era of Conservative talk radio began in the 1980’s after the demise of the “Fairness Doctrine.” Whereas Nixon and Reagan had to speak in code to their racist supporters, these days racism is front and center for all to see. You saw it on the Cable News coverage of the Jeremiah Wright story (and the disturbing lack of coverage of the far more outrageous claims of the conservative white pastors who support John McCain). You saw it in the Department of Justice’s attempts to coerce US attorneys to file false indictments of voter fraud against minorities. And you hear it every day from the mouths of some of the nastiest racist demagogues in our nation’s history on the radio: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh and a host of imitators.

You also see it in the ever increasing stories of police violence directed toward African Americans, violence which rarely results in any conviction of the police officers involved. Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Rodney King to name just three prominent cases. You saw it in the outbreak of hanging nooses which suddenly popped up all over the country after the case of the Jena Six achieved national recognition.

And now you see this vile evil residing happily within the bowels of the Secret Service, the federal law enforcement agency dedicated to protecting the lives of the President, the Vice President, candidates for the Presidency, and their families. Dedicated to protecting the lives of Barack and Michelle Obama, and their two young daughters.


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