Was Barack Obama the real target when George Zimmerman shot African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, and when Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Daren Wilson opened fire on another unarmed black youth, Michael Brown? Writer Greil Marcus, described by the Washington Post as America’s “greatest cultural critic,” says that the answer is — yes, that is exactly who they aiming at, at least subconsciously.
Marcus, 69, is known primarily as a music critic and author of the classic 1975 work on early rock and roll, Mystery Train. But Marcus uses his writing about popular music as a starting point for analysis and criticism of broader cultural trends.
In a Sunday interview with the online magazine Salon about his latest book, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs, Marcus discusses what he said has been the rise of racial animus in America since the 2008 election of Obama, the country’s first black president.
“I remember writing, right after Barack Obama was elected, that this country was not less racist the day after his election than it was the day before, and it might even be more so,” Marcus told Salon interviewer Scott Timberg. “I thought a lot of really ugly, scary things were going to start coming out of the ground. And it didn’t take very long for that to happen.”
Marcus goes on to cite such incidents as “Tea Party rallies saying there’s a lying African in the White House and showing a picture of Barack Obama with a bone through his nose,” and singles out Fox News for “the things that have been said about Michelle Obama.”
“Can you imagine Laura Bush ever being talked about that way? Laura Bush actually killed somebody,” Marcus says. “But that was never mentioned, that was never talked about, because it was impolite to bring it up.”
In the interview, Marcus says there is a feeling in the United States which may not be openly articulated in many circles, but which Marcus describes as the belief that, “There’s a f*****g n****r in the White House? Well f*** you, n****r, whoever you are.”
“I’m not a psychiatrist, I haven’t sat down and interviewed George Zimmerman or the cop who shot Michael Brown, I don’t know what their motives are, I don’t know what kind of people they are, what kind of childhood traumas they have experienced,” says Marcus. “But I don’t think it’s nuts that in a certain way, when that cop killed Michael Brown, and when George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, they were killing Barack Obama.”
In a recent unscientific survey on the site Debate.org, 78 percent responded “yes” to the question, “Is Fox News racist?” with only 22 percent replying that Fox is not racist, and the network’s attacks on Barack Obama are “because he is lousy at his job, NOT because of his skin color.”
What’s your opinion? Is racism worse in America since the election of Barack Obama than before? Were George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson subconsciously “killing Barack Obama” when they shot and killed teenagers Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown?