Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Deliberately and Deceptively Racist"

Over at Politico, my friend and reason editor Michael Moynihan has a thoughtful piece on race and the race.
In a web-only column, The New York Times editorial page charged that the ad [comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton] was a “racially tinged attack” like the one that “ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women." The American Prospect’s Ezra Klein huffed that the McCain campaign is “running crypto-racist ads.” Bill Press, former co-host of CNN's Crossfire, proclaimed that the “Celeb” spot was "deliberately and deceptively racist." Polk Award-winning blogger Josh Marshall wrote that “the McCain campaign is now pushing the caricature of Obama as a uppity young black man whose presumptuousness is displayed not only in taking on airs above his station but also in a taste for young white women."
Deceptively racist? What, pray tell, does that even mean? To establish such a claim would be to say that while the ad itself wasn't racist, it was intended to be, but so slick as to not appear so. (Thus defeating the purpose of expressing a racist sentiment.) Er, comparing Sen. Obama to two vapid pop stars is about as racist as comparing him to Charlton Heston's Moses from "The Ten Commandments."

Oh wait...
But it wasn’t just the Britney-Paris ad that channeled voters’ inner Orval Faubus. McCain’s follow-up video joked that the star-struck press corps had anointed him “The One,” a man that could not only “do no wrong” but could also probably, with powers bestowed by the media, part the Red Sea. Cue the clip of Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments.

Here, too, was the specter of racism. “When you see this Charlton Heston ad, ‘The One,’ that’s code for, ‘He’s uppity; he ought to stay in his place,'” political consultant David Gergen told his mystified co-panelists on “This Week.” “It’s the subtext of this campaign. Everybody knows that.” To no one’s surprise, Brazile agreed.

I know more than a few people who don't recognize legitimate prejudice, race-baiting, and racism. Genuine racism, however, isn't something that forces reasonable people into mental contortions to see.

If Democratic strategists are thinking all these things when they see the ad, perhaps they are the ones who need to reevaluate their thoughts on race.

This is in no way an endorsement of McCain, but just view the ads for yourself:

I don't see it.

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