When the word came in last night that Barack Obama and the Democrats had won national elections in something close to a landslide, millions of Americans went to bed, satisfied that even if their candidate didn't win, democracy had survived. The lopsided results made it clear that this election had in no way been stolen.
But not so at Ole Miss, which last month marked the 50thanniversary of deadly segregationist riots. Shortly after midnight, several hundred mostly white students protested furiously, reportedly yelling anti-black racial slurs and throwing rocks at passing cars. An Obama/Biden campaign sign was burned before campus police broke up the crowd in Oxford. There were apparently no arrests or injuries.
The reaction to the re-election of our first black president from the radical right -- and that seemed clearly to include some University of Mississippi students -- ranged from sputtering rage and name-calling to calls for a new Southern secession, mass emigration to Europe, or even the break-up of the United States. There was one thing large numbers seemed clearly to agree on: The changing racial demographics of our country, expected to lose its white majority by 2050, was key to the result.
"Welcome to a truly white minority world," wrote one commenter on Stormfront, the world's largest white supremacist Web forum, which is run by a former Alabama Klan leader. "The future is now. There is no denying this. The sun has set on humanity's greatest era: 1500-2000. " [T]he only way to survive this war of annihilation is separatism. " [W]e have to choose regions or states."
"We have truly fallen under God's judgment," wrote another. "You will never see another white man occupy the White House again." Responded a third: "If you can immigrate to Europe you start making plans. " America will become largely a non-white population that is poverty stricken and all those government programs will soon disappear. It will happen. No more Medicare and no more social security."
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The loss of a white majority in the United States has helped drive a truly explosive growth of the radical right in the last three years, and that now seems likely to accelerate. Hate groups in recent years have risen to more than 1,000, and the number of antigovernment "Patriot" groups has shot up from just 149 in 2008 to 1,274, according to research by the Southern Poverty Law Center. For months now, groups on the radical right have increasingly fretted about a possible Obama victory. Now that that has occurred, the radical right may grow more dangerous still.
On Stormfront, given this reality, it wasn't surprising to find talk of violence in the wake of the election. "I live in a liberal area so many of my "friends' are shouting for joy," lamented one poster at the racist site. "I don't actually have many real friends and the ones I do have are scared and talking about arming themselves."
Over at the conspiracist website Infowars, some reactions weren't that different. "Now is the time to leave this country," wrote a commenter using the name munglejonkeys. "[T]hey have brought about a communist takeover without firing a single shot. America will resemble Zimbabwe (economically) in a few years and there will be a huge shift in the welfare-dependent knob-slobs who thought that selling their souls for an Obama-phone was such a great deal. " All because white people didn't oppose political correctness 35 years ago."
Remarkably, similar sentiments seemed to crop up in what is taken as the political "mainstream." Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, fearing an Obama victory, said last night: "The white establishment is now the minority. And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff." He added: "The demographics are changing. It's not a traditional America any more."
Donald Trump, the billionaire unrepentant "birther," didn't mention race. But he tweeted last night that the election was "a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!" He went on to characterize the Electoral College, which gave the race to Republican George W. Bush in 2000, as a "disaster for democracy."
The anti-gay right reacted with fury, as well. In a long thread on the passage of same-sex marriage referenda at the antigovernment site Free Republic, commenters were apoplectic -- and frightened. "Get ready for God's wrath," wrote one. "The people are choosing Satan's finest." "Fudgies win again," wrote another. "Incidents of HIV [to] rise again." And a third: "America is going to pay for its unbelief and its love of abortion and homosexuals. " And IT DESERVES IT."
"SICK SICK SICK," wrote still another. "What a filthy night this election is."
In fact, as pointed out on CNN's religion blog, the whole election was a "nightmare scenario" for conservative Christian leaders. Noting the approval of two same-sex marriage referenda, the re-election of a president who supported such marriages, and the rejection of hard-line anti-abortion candidates, CNN said the election results "seemed to mark a dramatic rejection of the Christian right's agenda."
"The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate," Robert P. Jones, a pollster who specializes in politics and religion, told CNN regarding the referenda in Maine and Maryland. "Given the strong support of younger Americans for same-sex marriage, it's unlikely this issue will reappear as a major national wedge issue."