Tuesday, March 11

I WISH I HAD A RIVER

I'm speechless. This NY Times op-ed on her 3 a.m. ad is just ridiculous.

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.


Well, in fact, one of the children definitely appears to be AA to me.

Sometimes during this campaign I have dearly wished, as Joni Mitchell wrote, "I wish I had a river I could skate away upon." Hillary and Bill Clinton have been loved and respected by the African-American community for decades, but now because Hillary faces an AA challenger, they're being accused of being racist at every opportunity. In this particular instance, interpretation of the "symbology" is being stretched to the heights of absurdity.

If you don't see it, I simply don't know what else to say.

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