One of Muse’s regular readers emailed last night to ask that a comment she posted saying she would vote for Barack Obama be removed because her daughter was being harassed over her support of the Democratic Presidential candidate.

Over the past two weeks, the spam filter for Muse has caught more than 50 comments from locals who have used racial epithets to describe Obama and those who support him.

At Blue Ridge Restaurant recently, a customer left a waitress a one-cent tip. He then pointed to her Obama button and said “if you want a bigger tip, learn how to vote.”

I’ve received more than 100 emails in the past two weeks calling me a “n—– lover” and similar names. All were anonymous but a backtrace of IP addresses shows that 70 percent came from email locations. An anonymous note taped to the front door of Muse told me I should “go back to Washington (DC). They’ve got lots of n—— up there. You’ll feel right at home.”

At the Floyd Country Store not long ago, a woman looked at a local black man dancing with a white partner and said: “You know, it just makes my blood boil to see one of them black boys dancing with a white woman.”

I looked at her and replied: “I know just what you mean. It makes my blood boil whenever I encounter a racist and bigot.”

I’ve heard the “n-word” used more in conversation the last four weeks than in the remainder of the four years we have lived here.

Sadly, the candidacy of Barack Obama has fueled the racism that still lingers in too many residents of our area. It is fed by racist politicians like Virgil Goode and Republican activists like Bobby May. It thrives on historical revision by right-wing authors and thrives on the fear of the ignorant and the paranoia of the weak.

Local residents circulate emails calling Obama a “Muslim” or warning of a coming race war.

While not all supporters of John McCain or opponents of Barack Obama are racists, recent studies show that too many voters are letting racial prejudices guide how they will vote in November.

It is telling that not one racist diatribe that someone attempted to post on this web site or that came in the email was signed. Just as the Ku Klux Klan hid under white sheets, racists usually spew their hate anonymously. They live in fear, their cowardice fed by their stupidity and feelings of inadequacy.

It’s sad that such people still walk among us.