Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It doesn't matter what Clinton does or says, either

She will also be accused of racism.

Here's an editorial on the Clinton 3 AM phone ad:
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.

The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father — or by stating that the danger was external terrorism. Instead, the child on whom the camera first focuses is blond. Two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black — both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino.

Finally, Hillary Clinton appears, wearing a business suit at 3 a.m., answering the phone. The message: our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them. An Obama presidency would be dangerous — and not just because of his lack of experience. In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within.


Here is the Clinton ad:

Here is a portion of The Birth of a Nation:

The resemblance is uncanny, no?

Seriously, though. In Birth of a Nation, that 3-hour paean to the Klan, the racism was hardly subtle. In that clip alone, you had blacks holding white people hostage at gunpoint, a white woman tied up and gagged, and later picked up bodily to be carried off by a black brute--at which point the heroic, dashing Klansmen jump in to save the day. Where is any of that in Clinton's ad?

Perhaps professor Patterson was watching the ad with the sound off, and so missed the parts where the narrator asked whether the viewers wanted "someone who already knows the world's leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world." Yes, the message was that Clinton and not Obama could save our loved ones in the case of a catastrophe--but it nowhere suggested that Obama himself would be that catastrophe! (Is Obama a WMD?) It was fairly clear that his supposed inexperience would be the killer, not his Negro-born rapacious lust for whites. The only "symbols"--which the professor was supposedly paying attention to--were the stock footage of sleeping children. These, rather obviously, symbolize purity, innocence, tranquility, peace, all of which could be jeopardized by a phone call. But there's nothing in there to suggest that the threat is a scary black man "lurking in the bushes." Stop it already.

Via Atrios.

[Edit] Actually, I've considered this a bit further and I think I may have been too hasty. I mean, Patterson was looking for hidden racist symbols in the Clinton ad, and I think I've found one: clearly, the white sheets those sleeping babes are lying upon are meant to represent the white robes of the Klan, right? They're there, keeping our children safe and secure in their homes, protecting them from the darkness of night. So yeah, when you look at it that way, how could you miss the overtures to Birth of a Nation? If only Clinton had used some colored sheets, then any suspicions of racism would be completely unfounded!

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