Jon Chait and Dave Weigel have posted excellent critiques of the way parts of the conservative movement (including Fox News) are using the flimsy New Black Panther Party pseudo-scandal to exploit white fears that President Obama favors blacks. What's unusual about this, as Chait notes, is that conservatives had largely refrained from race-based attacks on Obama before this (with the notable exception of Rush Limbaugh). The widespread embrace of the NBPP allegations suggests a new and ugly turn in the effort to demonize Obama.
What's less widely appreciated is the parallel to conservative efforts to suggest Obama is a Muslim, disloyal to this country, and/or trying to institute Islamic sharia law, which only have resonance as a result of similarly paranoid fears about the president (in this case, that he's concealing his true beliefs).
Most recently, as Media Matters pointed out (here and here), the Washington Times published columns by Frank Gaffney and Jeffrey Kuhner claiming, respectively, that Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is "enabling efforts to insinuate" Shariah law in the US and that Obama is "a cultural Muslim whose sympathies lie with the Islamic world" and is "betraying the Jews." These op-eds were even published with offensive "photo illustrations" showing Kagan in a turban and Obama with a crescent moon and star on his head:
While the Muslim-baiting of Obama hasn't yet reached critical mass, look for this tactic to resurface. As the NBPP controversy shows, all it takes is one decision that can be misconstrued to activate people's preconceptions about Obama.