Whether or not it is true, this and other minor third-party anecdotes were enough to resurrect the angry-woman mantra that began when Barack Obama started his run for president. Responding to the controversy, Mrs. Obama, who usually keeps to herself and her family, came out to publicly defend herself against the angry-black-woman stereotype.
Speaking to CBS’s Gayle King, she said, “I guess it’s more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here and a strong woman — you know? But that’s been an image that people have tried to paint of me since, you know, the day Barack announced, that I’m some angry black woman.”
I guess it is more interesting but no less infuriating. The difficulty, of course, is finding people who have used those precise words — “angry black woman.” By midday Friday, if you Googled “angry black woman,” 65 million links popped up, many including the name Michelle Obama. Yet most direct quotes related to the first lady referred to an “angry woman,” rather than an “angry black woman.” Is the racial aspect of the criticism an extrapolation of Mrs. Obama and her defenders? It might be but for the fact that those calling her angry happen to be white.
On Thursday, Fox News’s Sean Hannity asked his show’s panel if they knew any “prominent” person who used those words. The panelists, who clearly didn’t want to say anything critical of the first lady, couldn’t produce a name. Indeed, it may be that this trope has evolved from the swamp of the blogosphere, where anonymous trolls say despicable things from the cowardly comfort of their subterranean wormholes.
It isn’t hard to find evidence of racial undertones in these anonymous missives, one of which materialized in my inbox recently. Comment threads on right-wing blogs frequently feature hateful, racist remarks about the first lady. They don’t deserve a pica of my column space, but suffice to say, they need no translation.