Since well before Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaign, a substantial part of the African-American community held the belief that any black presidential candidate with a serious chance of winning would surely meet the same fate that too many black leaders have; assassination. As November 4th drew closer, the fears have become more and more real for many African-Americans, as there have been two reported plots to make attempts on Obama’s life.
The first assassination plot was halted before the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, where Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for president. The threat was generally thought by law enforcement to be nothing serious, as the three suspected drug users planning the assassination had not gotten too much further than simply knowing they wanted to kill Senator Obama. They admitted that they had come to Denver to kill Senator Obama, and said their plan was to “shoot Obama from a high vantage point -using a rifle sighted at 750 yards.” U.S. attorney Troy Eid commented at the time that the men’s plans were “more aspirational, perhaps, than operational.” Authorities reported that all three men involved with the plot were high on methamphetamines when arrested.
The second assassination plot was similarly ill conceived. On Monday October 27, federal agents revealed that they had broken up another plot to kill Senator Obama. This plot came from two white supremacists who planned to kill Senator Obama while wearing white top hats and tuxes as part of a larger plot to kill multiple blacks across the country. The plan was unrealistic, and the two men had trouble even getting their desires off the ground as they made multiple mistakes in the early stages of gathering the resources necessary to complete their deadly plan.
For example, the two men first drew considerable attention to themselves by etching a swastika and multiple racial slurs into the side of their car. Their early criminal exploits also included a failed house robbery where the men were scared off by the sight of a dog and two cars in the driveway. Their most successful criminal endeavor was firing into the windows of a local church, which they subsequently bragged about to a friend. The friend told the authorities that they were responsible for gunshots at the church, resulting in their detainment.
While these threats are frightening for many, they are not as likely feasible as the ones that resulted in the tragic deaths of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Medger Evers. All three lived during a time in which their safety was not of high importance to law enforcement, and they also lacked a large, professional, security detail. Security restrictions also were not as tight as they are now, the assassinations of Bobby and Jack Kennedy probably could not occur today because now presidential candidates have the Secret Service, and it is unlikely that a President would ever ride in a open topped convertible in today’s world.
Another key point to remember is that Senator Obama would not probably even be leader of the world’s most dangerous country. People like Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki of Iraq, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, and former President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan are all still alive and they led (or currently lead) countries with active and unfortunately successful terror groups like al Qaida.
Even threats to the African-American community as a whole, while worthy of concern are probably not worthy of worry from average people. It is an unfortunate truth that there will always be those that wish death upon Americans, but we should not worry about all those that could possibly hurt us, we should only be worried about those who are actually capable of hurting us. I do not see any reason for heightened fears of successful white supremacist terror attacks as there is no proof of any of their plans even coming close to fruition. It is important to remember that even though there have been attempts on the lives of presidents and presidential candidates, Obama has had and if elected president will still have one of the best trained security teams in the world. Another thing that makes an Obama assassination unlikely is that times have changed considerably, racially motivated murder is something the overwhelming majority of Americans do not think is tolerable. If someone knew of a plan to kill Obama or anyone else they would probably react like the friend of the two skinheads did when he heard of their violent aspirations; they would tell the police. These are not like the days of the past where white supremacists doctrine was tolerated, even by police officers; racial violence and intimidation are taken very seriously by law enforcement today.
It is unfortunate that racially motivated plans like these still exist, but despite the recent threats, one would have to be an alarmist to think that this spells doom for Obama if he becomes president. Dealing with death threats has long been a part of being president, and world leaders from Europe to Pakistan and Indonesia have usually been fine. Threats of terror on the United States have existed long before Obama ever entered the national consciousness and people have not been overly concerned with them nor should they be. If he is elected president, the country will have much more pressing issues than his safety to worry about.