The Eclectic Quill

August 1, 2008

Exploiting Exploiting the Race Card

Filed under: Politics — Kelly @ 9:51 am

John McCain has accused Barack Obama of "playing the race card" a phrase so pregnant with meaning and rhetoric that its very injection into the campaign is a play of the same card. While much has been said about Obama’s comment about "looking different from past presidents" little has been said about what has led Obama to make that comment. Let’s be clear though, Obama’s remark was not out of the blue. It’s time for the media to start pointing out some of the background to much of this story. Many of the players in the McCain campaign have a despicable history of running racist ads.

Most immediately  of course is the ad which McCain ran where the faces of two young white women were merged into the face of Barack Obama. Some people might look at that and consider, "what’s wrong with that?" There’s a lot wrong with it and it’s about as subtle as Obama saying he looks different from the other Presidents. Certainly the McCain camp has gone out of their way to justify it by saying that they are other "celebrities." The explanation is entirely disingenuous, and frankly insulting to the intelligence in ignoring the realities of American history. Between 1882 and 1952 there were nearly 3500 black men lynched, primarily because they were caught sleeping with white women. The thought of the mob was that the only way a white woman would sleep with a black man was to rape her. As such the image of the black man with the white woman is illustrative of the black man taking by force what belongs to the white woman. Some might suggest that to infer racial overtones from this image is reaching. It might be were this an isolated case, but it isn’t.

The Republican Party has a long history of these sorts of subtle injections of racism and subliminal messages into campaigns are hardly new. In 1988 the famous "Willie Horton" ad exploited racist undertones and many suggest was the difference in the election. Jesse Helms blatantly exploited race as an issue when he showed a black man taking away a white man’s job in an election. More recently in Tennessee Bob Corker ran an ad exploiting race against Harold Ford , using the same white woman with a black man strategy. In each case the racial suggestions brought widespread media criticism. Still, one might suggest that none of this is relevant to the current ad. This is where a little research from the media would have been helpful. Charlie Black was pals with Lee Atwater , Bush’s campaign manager in the ’88 election who was the brain behind the Horton ad. Now Black is a political adviser to John McCain, and oh yeah, he’s also the man behind the racist ad that Jesse Helms ran. Terry Nelson is a senior adviser to the McCain campaign and also the author of the Corker ad, the one which used the exact same suggestion as the Obama ad. Put in perspective it is hard t o believe that racial suggestions weren’t intended in the McCain ads.

Furthermore there were actually a number of things which were said by Obama, not merely the "looks different" comment which is quoted. The fact is that there are some who are saying all of the things that he said they are saying, such as he is black, his middle name is Hussein, he’s a Muslim etc. The contents of this Snopes debunked email have been occasionally alluded to but not specifically mentioned. Without knowing the contents of this email many may have no idea what Obama is reacting to. Additionally fact that all the charges that Obama alluded to have also been leveled  by Fox News , the network which literally gets their talking points from the Republicans . To assume that on this issue alone Fox News is acting independently insults the intelligence.

Finally we have to look at John McCain himself who sought the endorsement of an anti-Semitic , and also the endorsement of a man who thinks the purpose of America is to destroy Islam , made disparaging marks about the entire Arab world , and hasa history of making racist jokes full of using racist words lik"wetback". One could argue that in the above cases he was playing to crowd. I’d s ay it’s possible but that doesn’t make this irrelevant. He was injecting race into his politics. Furthermore he voted against making Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday and has said complimentary things about flying the Confederate Flag . That he later recanted the statement or the endorsements doesn’t change anything. The fact that he was willing to compromise on the race issue in order to win an election is what matters. There’s a demonstrated history of McCain playing the race card.

There’s a demonstrated history of his campaign staff playing the race card. There’s a network which takes direction from McCain’s party playing the race card on a near nightly basis. Now, when Obama says they are trying to make us fear him because he "looks different" the McCain camp wants to stare at us with all the wide-eyed innocence of 5 year old with a hand in the cookie jar question, "what racism?" The mainstream media seems to be going along with it and ignoring very relevant history that is here. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. John McCain needs to stop his racist politics and talk about the issues.

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1 Comment »

  1. That was one of the best laid out statements I have read. Yes so much is true that I have even considered not voting. But that is unAmerican.

    Comment by Stan Earl — August 27, 2008 @ 10:18 pm | Reply


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