While NFL faithful were sitting down to watch Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos, and Jesus, do battle against the New England Patriots this past Sunday afternoon, Jules Manson, “a failed politician [who] recently ran for and lost a seat on the City of Carson’s City Council [CA] last March,” posted a “disturbing and openly racist call to assassinate Obama and Obama’s children on his own Facebook wall, which was open to the public.”
Not surprisingly, Manson has since received a tsunami of criticism, and is likely to enjoy a response from law enforcement as well (apparently, it’s illegal to publicly threaten elected officials). Worth observing, though, are the discursive frames within which Manson’s discourse was immediately placed: the earliest journalistic summaries suggested purely political motivations (despite hints of religious language) and mental/emotional disturbance compounded by personal/professional failures. It is also worth pausing to consider what ideological work even brief journalistic summaries might be performing. For, persons responsible for such discourse seem always already framed as unfortunate exceptions, social/political dead-ends, rather than logical consequence of our history and current social structure. Thus the American mainstream is safeguarded from having to accept responsibility for this highly disturbing interloper.
Here’s another way of seeing it. If Jules Manson were a Muslim, what other per-determined narratives might his story have been immediately fitted into, and what ideological work would such narratives support?