March 11, 2008

Harvard sociology prof Orlando Patterson sees racism in Hillary's 3 a.m. ad.

He says:
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.
I thought the child with the letters "NIG" on his/her pajamas was black, but then Patterson isn't seeing — or talking about — the letters. I don't know if Patterson considered talking about those letters and decided his piece would be stronger without pressing that point. If he did, he was probably right. In any case, he detects a substantial racial message, and he suspects it was intended:
It is possible that what I saw in the ad is different from what Mrs. Clinton and her operatives saw and intended. But as I watched it again and again I could not help but think of the sorry pass to which we may have come — that someone could be trading on the darkened memories of a twisted past that Mr. Obama has struggled to transcend.

43 comments:

Donald Douglas said...

Well, I just read Patterson's piece. My first though: Althouse is way ahead on this.

Didn't someone mention brilliant in the earlier comment thread for "NIG"?

Here, here!

American Power

Middle Class Guy said...
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Middle Class Guy said...

Geraldine Ferraro:
"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," Ferraro told a local California newspaper last week.
"And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept," Ferraro said.



I wonder what Professor Patterson would say about that. BTW, Clinton has not asked Geraldine to step down from her campaign post. This is just a distraction from the issues.

Synova said...

It must be a new thing for Dems like Hillary to be accused of crypto-racism.

The rest of us are used to it.

And if it's not crypto-racism, it's the sort of racism that a person is unaware of, doesn't feel, and never intends.

Those are the rules and a person can't win.

What's going to happen is people will stop trying... and who's fault will that be?

Joe said...

Some people simply choose to see racism in everything.

Chip Ahoy said...

You see best what you're trained to see. I was sitting in the second floor cafeteria of FRB behind exceedingly thick glass observing pedestrian traffic across the street. I saw a child in her mother's arms finger spell my name with her tiny hand. In that moment I actually heard the word "Bob" clear as a bell inside my head. The next moment I realized she was merely waving bye bye. Children's fingers at that distance, it all looks the same.

TROBlog said...

It must be a new thing for Dems like Hillary to be accused of crypto-racism.

The rest of us are used to it.

And if it's not crypto-racism, it's the sort of racism that a person is unaware of, doesn't feel, and never intends.

Those are the rules and a person can't win.


It's sweet indeed to see Hillary and about half the Democratic Party having to deal with accusations of racism and identity politics in general. Add in all the crap about voters being disenfranchised in Florida and Michigan and this is better than, well, anything.

Pogo said...

Whenever I wear my pair of Post-Structuralism Deconstruction glasses I see racism.

Everywhere I see it.

But if I tilt them just so, I see sexism.

Everywhere I see it.

George said...

In her ad, the black's on the outside. In his rejoinder, he's seen by a white house.

Clearly, if Obama's elected, it will mean 1,460 days of ceaseless racial slights, real or imagined, and it will be a primary tool of his for manipulating public opinion.

The key moment for Obama came when he shut down Pres. Clinton for his "fairy tale" remark. Check out the Youtube video. Clinton is quite calm, good humored, and rational. "There's no difference in your [Obama's] voting record on the War and Hillary's ever since [Obama was elected]. Give me a break. This whole thing [Obama's opposition to the War] is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

Where's the racial insult in that?

Then he riffs on Obama's dirty tricks against him and his wife. Back then, on January 8, Clinton was right when he referred to "the sanitizing coverage in the media" with regard to Obama.

The media gave Obama a pass, plain and simple, because he's black and a compelling speaker.

Richard Fagin said...

Certain people can be forgiven feeling a sense of pleasure at seeing Clinton and Obama bashing each other with victimological epithets, and their respective supporters finding evidence of the same.

Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Rod Paige anyone? Colin Powell could've beaten Bill Clinton in 1996 hands down, and Michelle Obama is only now proud of America. What planet do these people live on?

I suspect the same certan people could be forgiven a feeling of pleasure at seeing Clinton and Obama's respective supporters completely destroy each other along with their putrid beliefs once and for all.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Occam's razor would suggest that Hillary Clinton is just that nasty and dirty.

Homer said...

"I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery" -- does that make him an expert or a man predisposed to read into things that aren't there.

I think it's pathetic and sad that commercials like this are analyzed to death and are deemed to be racist when there is REAL racism out there that people have to deal with everyday.

Articles like this do much to cheapen what the word 'racism' really is, and is another example of academics living off in their own abstract world, completely detached from reality.

Middle Class Guy said...

George said....
The media gave Obama a pass, plain and simple, because he's black and a compelling speaker.


Oh please. Hillary Clinton has received the biggest pass and free ride of any candidate in history. The media has refused to fact check, verify, or document her alleged thirty five years of public policy experience. She says she did something and everyone just nods and smiles and goes along with it. Verification is not allowed. No one can even list anything she has done. Where has the media been? Right in the camp of Hillaryland, the biggest fairytale ever created.

Theo Boehm said...
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Synova said...

I think that the "NIG" thing was stupid.

Sorry.

I thought the "cross" in the Huckabee ad was stupid too.

But I don't see how anyone can see a racist message in the Hillary ad without being predisposed (in other words... prejudiced...) to see racism in absolutely everything.

How is racism in that ad apparent, Theo?

Because it is similar somehow to some other add with little children in bed at night and a looming threat? Is any looming threat supposed to be black people in our minds? Put a little gloom and tension in something and we're supposed to mentally supply a black criminal in the bushes?

Ya know... I won't do it. Because black criminals don't lurk in my subconscious. They simply aren't there. So I don't imagine them. I don't see them in stupid political ads. And I'm not going to PUT THEM THERE just to please some idiot from Harvard.

john said...

Pogo doesnt need his special glasses to see this - http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/NMLAKtortilla.html

It's there, dammit, you just need to look this certain way, when the light is just so. Now, see it?

Yet another professor jumping on the conspiracy/publicity bandwagon.

Slim999 said...

There is a tremendous amount of racism in the Democrat Party, and the media covering it.

Why, you wouldn't know it from the headlines, but there's an election going on in Mississippi today.

Nobody's covering it, of course, because it's highly likely that Barack Hussein Obama will win that election.

And since it's only black people voting for a black guy, it's not news. The news is that Hillary is gearing up for a fight in Pennsylviania ... six weeks from now.

Even calling Obama black is inherently racist. His father was black, but his mother was white.

Why is he "black"?

Why isn't he "white?"

He's "black" apparently because he has Negro blood now mixed in with his good "white" blood.

That's just patently racist. He's neither white, nor black ... he's mulatto. People who persist in calling him black are revealing their racism for the world to see.

Roger said...

Patterson is an idiot and Ms Ferraro's point re Obama is equally applicable to Patterson: if he wasnt black he wouldnt be at Harvard. I really would be interested for someone to tell me if the person doing the Obama schtick was white, and who ran on Obama's platform: would anyone be paying attention?

Yeah--I didnt think so.

Gahrie said...

My position has always been that if you have one drop of white blood in you, you are white.

Methadras said...

It really doesn't matter anymore anyway. McCain is already being asked to disavow "racist" or "islamophobic" or "sexist" comments from his campaign spokesmouths and he complies. How is he going to fight Obama on issues of substance when any and all attacks against him will be construed as racist and bigoted because Obama has chosen to identify himself as a black man? I mean let's remember, if we can, who Obama had to beat in order to become a Senator to begin with shall we? He defeated Alan Keyes, a black candidate (who is nuts frankly) that was thrown against him 4 weeks before the elections in Illinois. How about Hillary? She carpet-bagged her way into New York and was strongly challenged by Rick Lazio. A moron to be sure, but she would have lost to him had he not approached her in that fateful debate were he left his podium to walk to hers to show her a campaign promise or issue she penned to paper. She claimed essentially harassment from the big bad man and won.

How will McCain be able to fight this if either of these two end up against him? Campaign against a woman and you are a sexist. Typical leftist, politically correct pablum. Campaign against an identified black man and be accused of being a racist somewhere down the line. It's already started. How hard is it for a sociology proffessor to see racism in in a Hillary ad and yet not step back a little and already see the sexist and racist arguments being sharped to get thrown McCains way? That is real analysis, not this tripe.

Revenant said...

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery

And there's his problem, right there. When humans spend an inordinate of time dealing with one thing, they start "seeing" that thing in every other aspect of their lives, like Christians seeing Jesus in an oil spill or a slice of moldy bread.

George said...

I dunno, MC, I think we know more about the Clintons than most people can stomach.

And that's been her biggest problem--the boredom and disgust factor.

Could there be anything that's new about them we don't know?

But Sen. Obama....we'll see...

duheagle said...

On antebellum plantations, black slaves filled bags with cotton from dawn until dusk. On modern academic plantations, black professors fill publications with alleged manifestations of racism. Quotas and sanctions for failure to meet them apply in both cases.

George said...

And...look at what a surprise this Spitzer thing is....$80 grand on hookers???!!! Who knew? Who would have suspected? No one, it seems.

Theo Boehm said...
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Smilin' Jack said...

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery...I could not help but think of the sorry pass to which we may have come — that someone could be trading on the darkened memories of a twisted past...

...to make a career as a Harvard professor?

Cedarford said...

Orlando - 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.

Funny, I wonder what Orlando thinks about black thugs lurking in the bushes who just this past week took out the white Auburn student, the Student President of UNC.
And the 3 blacks that tried kidnapping a 50 year old white female shopper at an Oklahoma City WalMart. (There is virtually no predation on black females by white or Asian males, on the flip side.)

After 30 years, the game blacks and feminists play as critical studies academics and "noted professors" that blame everything on white male oppressors is fairly well understood. And getting more understood is advanced degrees in black studies and womyns studies or not, what they shovel is still crap, and every cry of racism or sexism made to get them more wealth or power.
**************
Boehm - It's just part of an operation whose motto may be best expressed (with apologies to Edgard Varèse) as, "The present-day Nixon refuses to die."

Hard to escape the old, real Nixon. Who, along with FDR, LBJ, was one of the 3 most consequential Presidents of the 20th Century. Both FDR and Nixon led profound changes in America and to the world. LBJ may not have done as much in foreign affairs as Reagan, but noses him out for 3rd spot in "consequentiality" for the permanent impact of Great Society, Civil Rights legislation, NASA, and elevating liberalism and reform to institutions an ongoing operation.

*****************
Ferraro only points out the obvious..There are several thousand white and Latin and Asian men with Obama's academic record, ability to be articulate and give pretty speeches, and had his equivalent of 6 years in minor state office. Just as many women of all races.

The idea of any of them attracting billionaire Jewish donors, getting a shot at both the Senate seat and be Keynote Speaker at a national convention...then being welcomed to run for President after just 2 years in the Senate is laughable.

The idea that liberal voters would have gone into Messiah Rapture for a white or Asian or Latin male "moral redeemer", or any woman, is also laughable.

Wouldn't have happened.

Ferraro is just having the guts to speak truth to PC Power.

***************
George - The media gave Obama a pass, plain and simple, because he's black and a compelling speaker.

To be fair, he is also the 1st person to run not as "The" black candidate, but as "A" candidate. He also benefits from the fresh, face cute Sanjaya Effect. Giving him his girl crush and gay crush, just as Pastor Huckleberry won over the Wise Kindly Father Figure voters you could tell all your problems to.

Larry said...

Some times a cigar is just a cigar.

But since Democrats are involved......

Synova said...

I suppose that my question is... how could one do that ad without reminding professor Patterson of "Birth of a Nation?"

It's one thing to say that something brings to mind racist associations but what would it take to avoid it?

Put some not-blond children in the ad? Well, I guess Latino isn't good enough, or racially ambiguous isn't good enough to unracify the message.

So, put a little black boy or girl in the ad... well lit... and with really typical "black" features so there is no doubt at all. And then have that white lady as protector and... well, scr*w that, now it's racial again.

Revenant said...

And...look at what a surprise this Spitzer thing is....$80 grand on hookers???!!!

With his kind of money that's like you or I blowing $25 at a strip club.

Meade said...

I still don't buy the idea that Hillary was intentionally appealing to racism in her 3 a.m. ad and it isn't racism to acknowledge the fact that blacks commit homicides at a rate seven times that of whites. Still, this might be a good moment for Hillary to put out another ad, one explaining what it is she intends to do as president to improve race relations in America.

She could begin by acknowledging the central role of unstable relations among the sexes within poor families, the need to place a higher priority on moral and social reform within troubled communities, and then present her plan to increase social services for infants and children.

Henry said...

What can it mean when a Harvard Sociology professor looks at a 2008 political ad and thinks of a movie most voters have have never heard of and even fewer have even seen (when I was in college, the film studies class was one of the joke courses in the art history dept. -- sleep your way to an A).

The central image -- innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of moral danger -- why that brought to my mind scenes from the past. Like the Governor of California protecting Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong against a shape-shifting killer robot! That sounds some kind of luddite imagery to me.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I still don't buy the idea that Hillary was intentionally appealing to racism in her 3 a.m. ad and it isn't racism to acknowledge the fact that blacks commit homicides at a rate seven times that of whites.

See? This is what Patterson is saying the commercial triggers.

rhhardin said...

It's childism to think of children as innocent. I've studied it for years.

They're actually monsters.

Synova said...

Talking about what Patterson claims is the deliberate sub-text is what triggers factual (maybe... I'd prefer a link or something) claims about crime rates... not the ad.

It's more steps... the ad... Patterson... black perps. It doesn't work so well to try to go... the ad... black perps.

Anyhow, around here the significant violent crime is Hispanic. The gangs, the guns, the cop killers.

But around here a whole lot of police officers and law abiding citizens are Hispanic, too. So I'm not sure it matters who's in the gangs or who isn't or who kills a cop and tries to run for Mexico.

Meade said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"See? This is what Patterson is saying the commercial triggers."

First of all, the commercial did not "trigger this." Mr. Patterson's op-ed "triggered" it.

And second, no, I don't see.

Where in his op-ed does Mr. Patterson say that the Clinton commercial causes viewers to look up the fact he cites in his own book -- Rituals of Blood: Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries -- that the ratio of homicides committed by blacks and whites in America today is seven to one?

Duscany said...

Orlando Patterson has spent his life "studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery." No wonder he's so confused and bitter that he sees racism behind every tree. The good professor has wasted his life.

Hoosier Daddy said...
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Hoosier Daddy said...

And this is what passes for analysis in our ivy league schools.

This article was total bunk and is simply yet another example of the perpetual victim society seeking racism in anything.

If anything it simply shows that Obama is untouchable because one peep of criticism will be considered racist.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Can someone please explain how Althouse is a whacked-out wingnut, and Professor Patterson is not?

Well with respect to Ann, I thought her NIG theory was ridiculous as is Patterson's contention that this ad conjures up images of black criminals lurking in the bushes.

It takes a tremendous leap of logic to come to the conclusion that the President is up at 3am protecting us lilly white folk from black burglurs. Sorry but that ad was all about the President protecting us from terrorists.

Let me be the first to do a shout out to the black readers out there by paraphrasing Dr. Phil: It ain't about you!. Contrary to what you may think, not everything revolves around racism.

Roman said...

If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer; all of your problems look like nails.

SGT Ted said...

Ya know... I won't do it. Because black criminals don't lurk in my subconscious. They simply aren't there. So I don't imagine them. I don't see them in stupid political ads. And I'm not going to PUT THEM THERE just to please some idiot from Harvard.

Right on. What is also left out of the claims of crypto-racism is that these ads were being run targetting DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY VOTERS; the crypto-racism theory assumes that a significant portion of Democrats are racist enough to be manipulated by the ad.

But, hey, I'm not a Democrat, so maybe there ARE a bunch of racists in the Dem party.

What a bunch of hooey. I've spent my life analyzing left-liberal University Professors and I know academic horseshit when I see it.

Finn Kristiansen said...

The actual article might be a bit far fetched, but I think what blacks notice is the language used.

Hillary is careful to verbally fellate McCain, knocking him but with deference, while the terms applied to Obama infantilize him.

It's how so many can make posts about Obama, and grant him the skills of oration, but insist on him being somehow less, or trivial, an empty suit.

No matter all the writing, the college, the policy positions. He is dismissed quite easily in a manner that don't really address the fullness of what he is about.

When one can be dismissed in such a way, without having ones views addressed, then some (blacks) might consider it somewhat racist.

Sometimes it's legit, sometimes it's hypersensitivity.