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The Race Cards and their players

The hints and allegations have been flying for some time already in the Democratic nomination race, and there appears no indication of things toning down anytime soon. Most of the alleged offenses are at least perceivable to interested observers, even if they do not agree with the characterization.

But now the ugly shadow of racism has been detected in Hillary's "3 a.m." ad - and not by the paranoid morons who first spied "suspicious" letters on the kids' pajamas. No, for this level of perception, you have to call in a Harvard professor, and The New York Times did just that. Harvard's Orlando Patterson writes:


ON first watching Hillary Clinton's recent "It's 3 a.m." advertisement, I was left with an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right -- something that went beyond my disappointment that she had decided to go negative. Repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease. I realized that I had only too often in my study of America's racial history seen images much like these, and the sentiments to which they allude.

* * * * *

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad's central image -- innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger -- it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn't help but think of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad -- as I see it -- is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.


Read the full column at the link above. The ad in question appears below:


The contortions needed to find racism in that ad are amazing. Patterson claims to be able to tell none of the children shown are black. Can you? I sure can't. Then he brings in "black men lurking in the bushes around white society" as an image. He may be correct about the imagery in that movie from over 80 years ago, but he fails to relate it to this ad in any meaningful way.

Patterson seems just the fellow to find racism in any image or symbol, whether it is there or not. After all, he has "spent [his] life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery," and the column identifies him as a professor of sociology. I wonder what his area of specialization might be?


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Comments (14)

Patterson is like art and f... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Patterson is like art and fashion critics who can just make up "connections" to suite their purpose. In the final analysis its meaningless dribble. The sad part is that Patterson has spend his life studying meaningless dribble and has yet to realize it.

..and he turns right around... (Below threshold)
hermie:

..and he turns right around and teaches this meaningless drivel to Harvard students.

Do parents of Harvard students actually enjoy paying for this?

And it'll only get worse wh... (Below threshold)
Eric F:

And it'll only get worse when it's Obama vs McCain.

This sociologist's hypothes... (Below threshold)
matthew:

This sociologist's hypothesis is semiotic, not sociological. It's also ridiculous.

To some, if you are white y... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

To some, if you are white you are a racist, unless you are a Democrat ...

If you disagree with an African American you are a racist, again only if you are a white non-Democrat ...

Remember all you whites, YOU OWE US ...


Until a black candidate can... (Below threshold)
Judy Johnson:

Until a black candidate can run for president without everyone saying any criticism of him is racist, a black candidate will not be elected.

Ironically, it's modern Wes... (Below threshold)
Eric F:

Ironically, it's modern Western Civilization which has done the most to fight slavery and inequality.

Well, it looks pretty likel... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Well, it looks pretty likely that a black candidate will be elected, Judy. People seem to prefer a young black candidate to an angry old man who calls the media his "base".

Jeff, somebody owes African America a great deal. Hint: it ain't Asian America.

well, anybody can go around... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

well, anybody can go around interpreting things as they see fit.

but that doesn't mean they make any sense, or that we should listen--whether they are a Harvard prof or not.

it's up to individuals to be critical of these kinds of things, and to decide for themselves what is reasonable and valid.


Inspiring crowds of all kin... (Below threshold)
Scott K:

Inspiring crowds of all kinds..and connecting with new and old voters and
Winning Iowa. South Carolina, Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Delaware, Utah, Kansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia, Illinois, Nebraska, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Vermont, Wyoming and Mississippi. Plus ties in Nevada and Texas...

Might have more to do with why he will be the best candidate for all. Than the fact he is black

The Clintons opened Pandora... (Below threshold)
NinaK:

The Clintons opened Pandora's box when they introduced racism into their campaign in South Carolina. Hillary has allowed the race card to run rampant in her campaign. She has also allowed the religion card to run rampant. When she is questioned about these, she states it did not come from her campaign. Bull, she knows what her campaign is doing, in fact she is directing them to do so! Why doesn't she fire them?? She can't, they're only following her directions.

However, Hillary's camp sure got upset when she was called a "monster" by Samantha. Hillary demanded that Mr. Obama's campaign fire her. Many, many of us think of her as a monster, in fact, some of us think we are insulting the monster itself. Monsters do NOT attack unless provoked. Hillary attacks without provocation!

Mr. Obama has been declared... (Below threshold)
NinaK:

Mr. Obama has been declared the winner of the Texas cuacus!! He will get the MOST DELEGATES from Texas!!! So, it looks like Hillary DID NOT win Texas! Get ready to hear the ravings and threats from their campaign that they will sue Texas.

Wonder when Texas will actually come out and declare Mr. Obama the overall winner.

Only Democrats manage to fa... (Below threshold)
sandybutt:

Only Democrats manage to fail spectacularly at Presidential Elections! Not even when they have the complete upper hand as this time!

Clinton with her stupid 90s style campaigning will manage to lose the Presidential Elections to McCain!

I support Obama and if she is the nominee, my skin will cringe before I vote for a closet racist! I will vote for McCain myself!

When you say that Obama is there only because he is Black, you don't need any more context! It's the classic white racist line! Don't pretend as if you don't know the code words!

I will never vote for Hilla... (Below threshold)
Benedict ArnoldHillary:

I will never vote for Hillary. She is running the dirtiest campaign I have ever seen against her own party. She even so much as endorsed McCain, which shows lack of good judgement. How can you endorse your rival for an office. What a loser she is.




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