Sunday, August 3, 2008

Seeing Racism Around Every Corner

A bit of hoopla recently regarding Barack Obama, John McCain, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Heard about it?

Apparently, McCain did something totally RACIST and compared Obama to Spears and Hilton. I'm still trying to find out how it's racist to compare a black man to two publicity-seeking, generally empty headed women, but HEY! What do I know?

Actually, I would be upset if somebody compared me to Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. Truly, I would. But I have to think about this from all angles, right? We're not talking about me here, after all... so I have to think... What if I weren't me? What if I were, say... Britney Spears? And this ad came out?? Man, I'd be OFFENDED!! Comparing me to another sleazy politician??

No, seriously, though... I fail to see the racism here. Just as I failed to see the racism in the ads against Harold Ford in 2006 when he was running for a Senate seat in Tennessee. Both ads are casting a definitively negative light on a black man, I guess... but is that racist? Methinks not. Not unless the negative light is cast on the color of the man's skin. 

Back in 2006, the Republican party ran a completely tasteless ad against Harold Ford, portraying him as a man who frequents the Playboy mansion (which, I understand has been substantiated), is opposed to gun rights, and stands for higher taxes among other things. The ad was poorly done and if I were in Republican leadership circles, I would have had nothing to do with it. That doesn't make it racist, though. Just stupid. 

Now again, we have an ad -- and it's not even as poorly done as the ad against Harold Ford. Still perhaps not in the best of taste, but since we're grading on the curve here, it's not AS BAD. In this ad, the McCain campaign is claiming that Barack Obama is "the biggest celebrity in the world" while displaying brief images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. This is the only place in the ad where they are even shown, and never mentioned by name. The ad then asks, "But... is he ready to lead?" Then it goes on to say that Barack says no to offshore drilling and then says he'll raise taxes on electricity. "Higher taxes, more foreign oil. That's the real Obama."

Now, in my little opinion, this ad is worthless. Really, in the United States you have two groups of people. One group who sees Obama as a self-generated superstar... someone who is all glitz and no substance. Another group who thinks he's the next best thing to a new Messiah, one to heal our wounds, help the different races come together and perhaps even save the planet from a meltdown in less than nine years. An ad as described above is going to appeal to nobody, making it a complete waste of time, energy, and money. Sure, it's going to generate some publicity, but the people who already thought Barack to be the Messiah aren't going to think twice about it - and the people who didn't aren't going to think more highly of McCain or more negatively about Obama. 

But please tell me - where is the racism? I keep hearing all these calls of racism... beginning with the Messiah himself saying that the Republicans are trying to scare voters by pointing out that he "doesn't look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills." Garsh... I never got that from that ad (not to mention that all the faces on money aren't Presidents). McCain's campaign manager responded by saying that Obama is trying to play the race card from the bottom of the deck and that "it's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."

Critics of the ad (excluding myself, of course, even though I just criticized it) are trying to shame McCain for this comment because "It puts the sin for the racial attack not on those who made it, but on the victim of the attack." Huh? Say wha-? Which racial attack was that, exactly? Can we be more grown up than to assume that anytime someone says something negative about a black person it's racially motivated? Because that's the only reason I can come up with for assuming this is a racial attack. 

What I would love to see is... well, a pipe dream really. I would love to see Barack Obama going toe to toe on policy issues with someone I liked. But since we can't always get what we want... I would love to see Barack Obama and John McCain in a live debate, not moderated by the press, where they actually have to espouse their own ideas to their own credit or detriment. Then let the American people decide. 

And, frankly, heaven help us either way.


Liz said...

The thing that angers me is that it is this kind of crappy journalism that is making him more popular too. He has nothing important to say ever and yet people are following him. Tim's nephew said he was going to vote for Oboma (he just turned 18). When Tim asked why, he said it was because we need change. Tim said "what kind of change is he going to give us?" His nephew said "I don't know, but we need change." No one has a clue, they just want a fresh upbeat guy who they think will lead them into the new "green" promised land. Pretty scary stuff. His niece (different family) is totally for him as well. She loves him, but I could not go into a conversation with her about him since we were together at her birthday and I did not want to spoil the day. He will take any opportunity to try and get ahead, even if it is to play the racist card. How many of the people who heard about that actually investigated it to see what was actually said in the ad. I would guess not many!!

4ofusinNC said...

Yes, Liz... I agree. But I don't think that the Obama coverage is due to "crappy journalism." I think it's just propaganda, pure and simple.

Actually, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech was hoping that America would become a place where people were judged not on their skin color, but on the content of their character. It seems that "liberal" or "progressive" thought wants folks judged only on their skin -- the blacker the better. Because judging Barack Obama on the content of his character (or his policies) gets calls of racism.

Frankly, I am amazed at how full of himself Obama appears to be. I see him in much the same light as I see John Edwards... always preening and posing in a mirror. Of course, Edwards was just worried about out of place hair and Obama is worried about looking "presidential." Sheesh.

It seems to me that a comparison of either one of those men with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears is a higher compliment than either of them deserves. At least Hilton and Spears aren't trying to rule the free world...

I am not at all surprised that the first time voters are gravitating towards Barack. But cut them a little slack... they're also doing all kinds of other stupid things because they don't know any better. Hopefully, as they get older and get a better grasp on life and human nature, their voting will mature along with their age. :-)