The hysterical accusations of socialism from conservatives echo similar accusations leveled at black leaders in the past, as though the quest for racial parity were simply a left-wing plot. Obama may not actually be a socialist or communist, but his election would strike another powerful blow to the informal racial hierarchy that has existed in America since the 1960s, when it ceased being enforced by law. This hierarchy, which holds that whiteness is synonymous with American-ness, is one conservatives are now instinctively trying to preserve. Like black civil-rights activists of the 1960s, Obama symbolizes the destruction of a social order they see as fundamentally American, which is why terms like "socialism" are used to describe the threat.
This phenomenon extends beyond Obama's candidacy. The conservative explanation for the mortgage crisis falls neatly into this narrative, too; the country is at risk because Democrats allowed minorities to disrupt the natural social order by becoming homeowners. Never mind that this defies all data, logic, and history, the narrative resonates because it allows Obama, a living symbol of black folks rising above "their station," to become a focus for conservative economic anxieties.
Read full article here: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=is_john_lewis_right_after_all