Just weeks after President Obama attempted to bridge a national divide over the George Zimmerman verdict, the rhetoric surrounding race in America is increasingly hot. In the last month, several ugly episodes surrounding anti-Obama protests have prompted bipartisan denunciations, and ignited debate over the role of race in conservative opposition to the president. During the same period, Republican officials have excoriated prominent Democrats over remarks on race that they consider inflammatory.
This weekend, a state fair in Missouri featured a rodeo clown dressed as President Obama. According to one widely shared account by an attendee, “the crowd went wild” after announcers asked who wanted to see Obama “run down by a bull.” The attendee, Perry Beam, likened the scene to “some kind of Klan rally.”