Questioning Liberal "Expertise" On White Voters And Race ...

By Martin A. Knight Comments (44) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

NOTE: flyerhawk is one of my favorite on-line liberals; he can be seriously annoying and frustratingly sopistic but I believe he adds more than he subtracts from Redstate and we're all the richer for having him here.

That said, I'm curious as to his (and most liberals') apparent expertise as to hidden racial "overtones" and "messages" in political ads, speeches and even venue selection (i.e. the Neshoba County Fair) for political events.

How come and why are liberals always so certain that Southerners (or whites in general) actually react or even perceive the racial "angles", "overtones" or "messages" in political ads, speeches or policies the way liberals do or think they (white voters) do?

I remember this thread on the Harold Ford campaign's charges that the Playboy bunny ad that the RNC ran against him was pandering to latent Tennessean racism - Chris Matthews on Hardball raked Ken Mehlman (who had a deer in the headlights reaction) over the coals on it, repeatedly arguing that the people who created the ad knew without any doubt that it would somehow incite ... something ... that would automatically make otherwise normal white swing voters in Tennessee go into the polling booth and pull the GOP lever.

flyerhawk commented up and down the thread that we need to "face reality"; that an ad which features a white woman asking a black man to "Call me!" is surely bound to incite racial tension/hatreds and automatically induce the average fence-sitting or non-voting white Tennessean to go to the polls and vote Republican.

I confess that this particular theory simply doesn't make sense to me. Try as I might, I didn't see any racism in that ad or perceive any hidden subliminal racist messages. So I guess I'm confused because my reality doesn't seem to be the same reality as flyerhawk's or Chris Matthews'.

Is it that flyerhawk and Chris Matthews (or liberals in general) have some special insight into the white Southern (or Northern) mind that Conservatives or Republicans lack, or is it something one can pick up from reading a book, conducting studies, or something that everyone just knows?

This is virtually the same argument with regard to the Willie Horton ad eighteen years later. And the claim here, to me at least, is just as ... odd.

My interpretation of flyerhawk's words and that of most liberals who have spoken and written about this is that they're saying that the fact (written in LARGE letters) that Willie Horton was a first degree murderer, who was released from prison on some sort of weekend holiday (a furlough), who then went and raped, tortured and repeatedly stabbed a couple over the period of a whole hellish weekend would have mostly sailed right over the average white person's head - if he/she were from Mississippi.

According to flyerhawk, the Democrat Party and most members of the Press, the only thing that that typical 1988 white voter from Mississippi, or Alabama, Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, etc. would have noticed from seeing that ad would have been the color of Willie Horton's skin.

In other words, what flyerhawk, Howard Dean and every member of the New York Times editorial board is saying is that Michael Dukakis would have done much better against George H. W. Bush in, let's say, South Carolina, in 1988 if Willie Horton had looked like either one of these people;

    Peter Sutcliffe,
    Ted Bundy,
    Jeffrey Dahmer

... instead of this;

    Willie Horton

Well, again I admit that I do not find this particular theory that convincing - I certainly don't see much of a difference. A murderer, rapist and torturer is a murderer, rapist and torturer whether he be black, white, blue or purple with green polka dots. But maybe that's just me; I'm neither white nor Southern so I may not think like the supposed primary targets of the Willie Horton ad. flyerhawk, on the other hand, like Chris Matthews and most other liberals, is basing his arguments on an apparent knowledge of the average white Southerner's (or white voters' in general) thought processes. But I haven't seen any credible studies or reports (maybe from exit polling?) that support this theory.

Honestly? The only people I've ever seen who have said that their perception of the Willie Horton ad as being about crime or race was entirely dependent on the color of Horton's skin ... are all on the Left.

Me? As someone who happens to be black, I think that if you can watch the Willie Horton ad, and the primary detail you took away from it is not that Willie Horton is a first degree murderer, not that he viciously beat and stabbed a man multiple times over a weekend "furlough" from his maximum security prison, not that he savagely raped a woman (the man's girlfriend) over that same weekend period ... but the color of his skin, then I think you have more of a problem with race than anybody on the Bush 1988 campaign.

But then again, I'm no expert on the white mind like Chris Matthews (or flyerhawk).

I am off to work and don't have time to really read closely the whole post (sorry, I promise to do so when I get home), I love this question, because I think part of the answer is that liberals are the self appointed keepers of all things racist, therefore they get to "read between the lines" in order to accuse the GOP of covert racism.

As for Willie Horton, I think that ad would have been run, and probably pretty much as is, even if Willie had been lily white with blond hair and blue eyes. Willie was a murderer released to kill somebody else-and that kind of thing doesn't play well in the South, no matter what your skin color is. Liberal policies on crime weren't selling point anywhere outside of liberal strong holds.

Not racism-detection...

"The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal comfort... has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
--John Stuart Mill

Ok. I am a white southern right-leaning hillbilly voter with a confederate flag on my license plate; such as to whom Harold Ford was trying to appeal. (actually I live in Blue Ridge Georgia about 10 miles from the Tennessee line). Apparently that will cause the likes of Chris Matthews and flyerhawk to presume that I am a racist, a rather prejudicial characterization these days. Ironic that, when you think about it; seems to be a bit of ethnic racial prejudice at work on their part.

Now it happens that I don't think I am a racist, but what can I say to all these people who tell me I am, and that my problem is that I just don't realize it? I suppose its possible I am dumb too and that they know me better than I know me. Of course that kind of also fits the Southern stereotype: ignorant; doesn't it?

But heck, there really may be a few in the South that are uneducated and who attribute all apparent vice to the genetic variations that also cause colored skin. That would be a thoroughgoing racist a la the KKK. Chris Matthews and flyerhawk might redeem themselves from the charge of prejudicial stereotyping by recognizing exceptions, by granting that I am not one of those.

Ironic too that. When I confront my friends here who seem to use the N-word with an ease which makes me uneasy, they invariably say that they have had good friends who were black but what they despise is a particular set of vices that they associate with that word and a significant percentage of their personal experiences involve encounters with those vices. And they add that they have encountered numerous white people with the same vices and the same feeling applies to that "white trash." So, just as Chris might redemptively do with me, they also recognize limits on the application of their prejudicial stereotyping; they declare it is not racially or ethnically based. Perhaps we could call this 'circumspect stereotyping' to distinguish it from KKK-styled racism.

So, to the commercial. This commercial could be expected to have had no impact on the thoroughgoing KKK type racist. However, I suppose it could have had an impact on the circumspect stereotypers - whether to call them racist is a bit of an open question to me, because it seems if we do, then we should also call Chris Matthews and flyerhawk racist. It might have caused them to shift Harold Ford from one category to another.

If that analysis is accepted, then what does it imply about how we should think about the commercial? IMO, the primary question then becomes whether or not the commercial was factual. Most political ads attempt to locate candidates in value-categories held by possible voting blocks. They are cheap and dishonest when they put a candidate in a value-category in which the candidate doesn't really fit. When I ask my friends to elaborate the vices in their racially associated vice-category, loose sexual associations is not typical and inter-racial associations less so. However, more strictly social conservative voters have a category that includes loose sexual morality and it is rather independent of inter-racial aspects. A black playboy bunny would have been all the same.

So in conclusion I would have to say that the racial charge against this commercial was unfairly characterized Republicans and whether intentional or not served a political purpose to discredit them by appealing to an unjustified stereotype that they are racist.
John E.

I have actual work things to do today so I might not be able to respond as fully as I would like.

But I would like to point out that my comments were not directed specifically towards southerners, or even Republicans.

Racism is not tied to political parties. There are racists in both parties.

My point, and I apologize if I was unclear, was that the Republicans, realizing that they have little to lose regarding the African-American vote, are more willing to pander to some voters fears.

And I don't know if the voters who have those fears are racists. Our society today seems to want to say that people are either completely colorblind or racist. This is a very unrealistic way of looking at people.

EVERYONE is prejudiced to some degree. It's impossible to not be and still be a human being. You may be able to control and suppress innate prejudice but you still have it to some degree.

I believe that Republicans try harder to convince people that they aren't racists because they believe they are fighting an unfair label. Democrats tend to carry their alleged "colorblindness" like a badge and use it beat up Republicans.

When talking about racism we can either talk about the actual realities of racism, in which all of our personal experiences may vary. I for one, living in uber-liberal Northern New Jersey, see and hear over racism ALL THE TIME. I'm not talking about debatable stuff either. I'm talking about people who throw around words that are simply unacceptable and make comments that are appalling. And that's not even addressing my military experiences.

Or we can talk about the politics of race, which are something completely different and deal more with imagery and influence rather than actual racism in action.

The Willie Horton and the Harold Ford ads were not racist. They were pandering. Not the same thing.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

And I do say this out of a general respect for ou as a liberal on this site, but I don't buy that the Willie Horton ad was pandering. Actually if you go with stereotypes in terms of serial kilers and serial rapists, the image that always comes into my mind is white male in his 30s or 40s. But, again, I don't live in the South (though I love the region almost to the degree as my beloved MidWest), but Horton's crimes were so heinous that I think no matter who his victims were, to let him out makes Dukakis seem like an idiot. The fact that he chopped up a man in several pieces before being let out to rape a woman in front of here husband sounds pretty gruesome no matter what race, and I have faith in Southerners, MidWesterners, and even the Coasts that that is a crime appalling enough that anyone with brains would be disgusted. I think that Ford's ad panders more to social conservatives in the sense that partying at the PLayboy mansion does not sit will if you are Ford and trying to pitch yourself as a social conservative-remember, Ford was trying to run to Corker's political right, and talked about God, abortion, and moral values so much that if he had been a Republican, Democrats would have painted him as a religous extremist. But I think that this isn't so mucha racial thing but a Rovian strategy of attacking opponents at their strength; ie Ford pitches himself as a moral values guy, so we attack his moral values. Where's Gamecock when you need a Southerner to pick up this Midwesterner trying to talk about his turf?

What political philosopher do you most admire? "Christ, because he changed my heart....When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the Savior, it changes your heart and changes your life." -George W. Bush, echoed by me

I agree that there was a lot more about Horton than him being black. That's what made him political gold for the Bush Administration.

But I suspect that they were aware of the racial implications of airing the ad. That's why they let a proxy air that ad rather than Bush Campaign or the RNC. Let some PAC air it so that they could deny involvement if the political backlash was stronger than they expected.

The Horton ad was a stroke of genius. And whether you agree or not about the racial implications many African-Americans DID see the racial implications and got turned off even more to the Republican Party.

The thing about Outrage! is that it is in the eye of the beholder. You guys get Outraged! by things that I find downright strange. Someone recently wrote a diary complaining about the political agenda of a cartoon movie. But that doesn't change that some people here were genuinely offended by the political message of that film.

The same holds true with these ads, and other ads. A lot of people, particularly African-Americans saw these ads as racist. And, while it is possible that the people who created those ads had no clue about the potential racial implications, I find that very hard to believe. If part-time amateur political junkies see it immediately there is no way that professional spin doctors don't see it.

Republicans are often perplexed as to why African-Americans vote so overwhelmingly for Democrats, especially given the history of the Democratic Party. This is one of the reasons.

And as I said in my first post, I don't think the Republicans are trying to be racist. I think they have simply written off the African-American vote.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

Melhman has gone to over 500 speaking engagements with primarily African-American audiences. Democrats have the advantage of African-American incumbents in African-American districts with no challengers in sight. The GOP has tried the strategy of cutting into the hold on the Black vote by offering Blacks more elected positions ie the GOP ran 2 candidates for Senate and 2 for governor in an attempt to groom more Blacks in the GOP to loosen the stranglehold that the Democratic Party has, and the only way that more Blacks are going to vote Republican is when candidates like Michael Steele and Ken Blackwell can go and convince African-Americans that voting Republican is not a vote for the KKK, as the spin doctors liek Julian Bond, Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson would have many believe.

What political philosopher do you most admire? "Christ, because he changed my heart....When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the Savior, it changes your heart and changes your life." -George W. Bush, echoed by me

And as I said in my first post, I don't think the Republicans are trying to be racist.

Glad to hear it, but if that is the case the implication is that they are racists but just can't help themselves or are unaware of it.

But I suspect that they were aware of the racial implications of airing the ad.

Oops! That seems to rule out the "unaware" option. If their actions are racist and they are aware of that fact then they are in fact "trying to be racist" and your first statement is nonsense.

A lot of people, particularly African-Americans saw these ads as racist.

How do you know this? What is the source of this liberal ability to know what other people think and feel in the deepest recesses of their hearts? Do you all have some extra organ which we mere mortals are lacking?

Your entire string of comments on this topic boils down to saying this: "Anything the Republicans say or do regarding black people which can possibly be regarded as racist, will be regarded as racist, by me and my fellow liberals.

Why some people think this sort of insight makes you a worthwhile commenter is a mystery to me.

On this topic, flyerhawk is showing us how the Left actually thinks when it comes to racism.

On other topics, he is actually very good to have around.

We all have our weaknesses. You really don't want to get me riled up about evangelists (I have had a long series of bad experiences and the last time I got riled up around here, I got in trouble...).

"The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal comfort... has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
--John Stuart Mill

Is it simply impossible for some of you to talk about this in anything resembling an objective manner?

Whereas many of you have explicitly called both Democrats and me racists, apparently anything short of full throated rejection of the possibility that there might be even a slight perception of pandering by the Republicans is simply unacceptable. But of course you guys have absolutely no problem calling Democrats straight up racists. Apparently the racists in America are all Democrats. Who knew?

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

was an expose of the liberal soft on crime position-it would have been run had Horton been Lily white.

Horton did happen to be black, but I was back in school getting my criminal justice degree during that campaign, and the reality was back in the 80's the "tough on crime" and the "soft on crime" positions were clashing in major ways. Mostly at that time over sentencing, the real length of sentence verses what the judges gave. It was during the Reagan years that the push came for truth in sentencing laws, and there was a huge faction of liberal leaners who thought mandatory minimums were cruel (several still do, but not to the degree the debates occured during the 80's).

Horton's ad would have been run-no bones about it-he was the perfect example of the tension between the two sides, and Dukakis absolutely came down on the "soft" side of the issue.

I think liberals want to see racism there, because they see racism as a motivating factor for the GOP in general. YOu even double spoke in your opinion-on one hand you say we are racists, but don't know it, and on the other you say we are racists, but are aware of it.

How many different ways I can say that my point was NOT about the Republicans being racists.

So do you really think that the perception among African-Americans that the Republican Party is hostile to them is borne solely because of the big bad evil media and the Democrats?

Or will you be like Jon and challenge me to provide an exhaustive poll of African-Americans that shows that they are distrustful of Republicans?

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

So do you really think that the perception among African-Americans that the Republican Party is hostile to them is borne solely because of the big bad evil media and the Democrats?

You hit on a key word/phrase that I think is important.

"perception among African Americans"

Yes it is their perception, and sometimes perceptions aren't based on fact, but on what they believe to be fact.

We hear constantly from democrats and the MSM that white republicans are just a bunch of racists. Whenever a legitimate argument is made on a policy issue, out trot the Jesse Jackson's screaming racism.

Are you arguing that opposition to affirmative action, hate crimes laws or similar means the opposer is a racist?

I also think there is the issue that a lot of people out there love to play victim-and there is no greater victim to be than the African American victim of racism. Just look at how black GOP leaders are treated by the press and by other blacks. I have seen some of the worst vitriole ever made towards black republicans-and not greater target of this vitriole than people like Justice Thomas, Condi Rice, and recently Michael Steele in Maryland.

So yeah, I do actually believe that the media and the black leadership has a whole lot to do with the perception that republicans are by definition racists. The perception problem isn't mine-exactly what do I do personally to prove I am not a racist? I can't.

I think we asked you to prove the GOP is racist, and you gave us Willie Horton-an ad that ran 20 years ago.

... on this he's just spouting Lefty conventional wisdom.

He still cannot actually make a convincing argument that the Willie Horton ad was actually racist.

All his arguments are based on the premise that there is/was a politically significant number of people who saw the ad, completely ignored the fact that Horton was a first degree murderer let out on an unsupervised weekend holiday who then went to another state to torture and rape.

They saw none of that ... what they saw instead was just the color of Horton's skin and they immediately felt compelled to vote for George H. W. Bush.

Furthermore, he insists that the National Security PAC who created the ad ran it with those particular people in mind.

He calls that "facing reality."

All his arguments are based on the premise that there is/was a politically significant number of people who saw the ad, completely ignored the fact that Horton was a first degree murderer let out on an unsupervised weekend holiday who then went to another state to torture and rape.

I have said absolutely no such thing.

Every person was impacted, in some way, by the fact that Willie Horton was a very bad man. There is no question that the PRIMARY purpose of the ad was to point out that Michael Dukakis was weak on crime and that he let out a known murderer, who eventually killed again.

I have NEVER denied this. I've not even diminished this point.

What I have said, repeatedly, is that the imagery of the mug shot of Willie Horton was intended to ad fear. Partly because he was a scary looking guy. And, to some degree, because the image of a black criminal in this country is something that has been etched into our cultural psyche. You wish to deny this because, apparently, you think it is beyond the pale to consider the possibility that political spin doctors would be willing to use race for political advantage.

I will not get to answering your other post.

And what I SAID about the National Security PAC was that they were aware of the backlash and potential impact of showing the mug shot.

Let me ask you a question. What was the purpose of showing the mugshot, in your opinion? Why do you think they did it? Did showing the mugshot somehow change what Horton did? Here's the video again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC9j6Wfdq3o

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

What I have said, repeatedly, is that the imagery of the mug shot of Willie Horton was intended to ad fear.

A visceral reaction of distaste? Sure. But fear? Of the Horton monster coming to get me in my sleep? No, I don't think so. I have a visceral reaction to pictures of Richard Ramirez ... not because he looks scary (I've looked worse) but because I know what he has done.

And what I SAID about the National Security PAC was that they were aware of the backlash and potential impact of showing the mug shot ... you think it is beyond the pale to consider the possibility that political spin doctors would be willing to use race for political advantage.

What are you saying here? Showing the mug shot was "pandering?" Pandering to who? Suggesting what? If Horton had looked like Peter Sutcliffe, John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer, are you saying that the PAC would not have included a mug shot? What was the "impact?" Who specifically was the addition of the mug shot supposed to have an "impact" on?

Did it have an impact on you?

You see, you're implicitly saying something and at the same time denying you're saying it. Answer the question; do you believe that the National Security PAC would not have run the Willie Horton ad if Willie Horton were not black?

Did it have an impact on you?

Well I did vote for Bush that year but I was 18 and confused. :)

Honestly I was in college at the time and didn't watch much TV and wasn't nearly as politically aware.

do you believe that the National Security PAC would not have run the Willie Horton ad if Willie Horton were not black?

I don't know. Would they have shown the picture of another guy? I don't know. Maybe. But that's besides the point, really. The question should be "Did the PAC realize that by showing the picture of a black man would be a politically charged message"?

I keep answering your questions. Will you answer mine?

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

Did the PAC realize that by showing the picture of a black man would be a politically charged message?

It's a campaign ad. It's supposed to send a politically charged message. The real question is whether they knew it would be a racially charged message?

In that case, according to the guy who actually produced the ad, Larry McCarthy, no. He claims that he was a bit non-plussed that
the Press became so fixated on the color of Willie Horton's skin rather than the severity and viciousness of his crimes and the fact that he was released unsupervised for a weekend from a maximum security prison even though he was a convicted first degree murderer on a life sentence.

The words, "STABBING" and "RAPING" were much larger than the mug shot, after all.

So I take it that you believe that there are people who would not have voted for Bush (they might have voted Dukakis, third party or not voted at all) if Willie Horton had been white?

Or are you saying that the PAC believed this?

Did it have an impact on you? Or anyone you know?

The ad in general had little impact on me or anyone I knew at the time.

But, as I said, I was more interested in finding a good kegger and meeting coeds than discussing the nuances of identity politics in America.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

Yes it is their perception, and sometimes perceptions aren't based on fact, but on what they believe to be fact.

But if the Republican Party is aware of these perceptions don't you think it might be a good idea to be careful of how you portray things?

Are you arguing that opposition to affirmative action, hate crimes laws or similar means the opposer is a racist?

Nope. I personally oppose affirmative action. Not sure how you came up with that one.

So yeah, I do actually believe that the media and the black leadership has a whole lot to do with the perception that republicans are by definition racists. The perception problem isn't mine-exactly what do I do personally to prove I am not a racist? I can't.

And I would agree with you. But what you, and others, are apparently trying to suggest is that the Republicans are victims of an evil smear and that they have done nothing to deserve this image.

I think we asked you to prove the GOP is racist, and you gave us Willie Horton-an ad that ran 20 years ago.

Well you have asked. And I have said, repeatedly, that I NEVER SAID THE GOP IS RACIST. I provided Willie Horton as an example of pandering because it was the first one that came to mind. This is not a matter that weighs on my mind much. I made one general observation regarding BOTH parties. You guys flipped out and demanded examples. I provided one. You guys went nuts, called me a racist, and said that there is absolutely no way that it is even possible that they were pandering.

But apparently I am the one who is preaching dogma here.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

"I provided Willie Horton as an example of pandering"

Pandering to who...people who don't think violent criminals ought to be let out of prison?

Willie Horton's race was irrelevant to that whole story. The fact that people bought the line that it was some kind of racist pander still amazes me.

White, black, whatever. The point was that he shouldn't have been let out of prison. And it was a perfectly fair criticism of Gov. Dukakis.

Your comment here is just like this frauderate's over here;

My assertion is that, as part of that realignment, the Republicans very cannily played on white disaffection in the aftermath of civil rights to help bring the south into the fold.

Now, you say that Republicans are not racists but that they "pander" (i.e. appeal) to racists ... My question is; exactly what is the difference? I lit into the frauderate above because he tried to do exactly what you're doing here.

Make no mistake; you are calling Republicans racists while pretending you're not doing exactly what it is you're doing. One need not even try to read between the lines to know that you (and the frauderate) buried a really horrible smear in your posts on this thread (and others) even as you deny, rather disingenuously, that you're doing so.

The fact is; you and I both know that there's not much difference between someone who is a racist and someone who panders to racists. On a moral and political level, it's a meaningless distinction and nobody with any significant amount of intelligence would say otherwise.

But I suspect that they were aware of the racial implications of airing the ad ... while it is possible that the people who created those ads had no clue about the potential racial implications, I find that very hard to believe.

SIDENOTE: You just made an (barely hidden) accusation of racism here that even the most casual of readers, even non-political junkies, will easily pick up.

Anyway, with this, we now come to the subject this thread is all about. You and people like you (liberals) assert that the Willie Horton ad had a "racial implication" that the GOP must have been aware of; it was (in part) designed to send a subliminal message to white voters that played on their latent prejudices to make them vote Republican.

You cannot make this argument without at the same time admitting that you just accused the GOP of racism. That is why Jon Sandor is up in arms. Specifically to a supposed set of racist white voters that would not have been moved at all by the Horton ad if Willie Horton had looked like Jeffrey Dahmer.

Who are these people? How come you're so certain that this is the way the people in (for example) Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc. thought in 1988? How come you (and Chris Matthews) are so very confident that the RNC's anti-Harold Ford ad would motivate a politically significant number of white Tennesseans to run to the polls in 2006 to pull the GOP lever just because a blonde directed a flirty "Call me!" at Harold Ford in a campaign ad?

And contrary to your belief, it was not "part-time amateur political junkies" that first shrieked that the Willie Horton ad was an appeal to racism, it was people like Jesse Jackson and other "black leaders" (i.e. professional Democrats) that immediately made the argument that Willie Horton's race and not his crimes was the reason that ad was aired. The media quickly picked up the theme and ran with it.

It's the exact same situation with the RNC's anti-Ford ad in Tennessee. Ford immediately charged that it was racist, the NAACP and others echoed him, the Left-blogosphere followed suit and in the next second Katie Couric and Chris Matthews were humming the same tune and reporting it as the gospel truth; the RNC ad was trying to scare white Tennesseans into voting for Bob Corker or else Harold Ford would lay the pipe on their sweet young innocent virginal lily-white daughters; one of their supposedly hidden in the hind-brain worst fears.

Repeat anything often enough (i.e. the Willie Horton ad was really about race and scaring white voters and not at all about Dukakis' soft-on-crime policies in Massachusetts) and sooner or later, it assumes the authority and weight of truth; and of course it would be so reflected in the black community.

Well, I, personally, completely dispute your belief that they were any "racial implications" or "subliminal messages" buried in any of these ads. Neither do I believe that the people who designed and produced them actually did so with the intention or knowledge that they would stir up these "racial implications" in their party's favor.

And to be honest, I further submit that any ad produced by a Republican, the Republican Party or in support of the Republican Party that features, references or includes (in any way) a black person is always going to have liberals immediately charging the Republican Party of trying to appeal to racism - it has become a constant feature of every single Democrat campaign in the past thirty+ years.

Now, you say that Republicans are not racists but that they "pander" (i.e. appeal) to racists ... My question is; exactly what is the difference? I lit into the frauderate above because he tried to do exactly what you're doing here.

Actually, no. I did NOT say that. I said that they pander to people's fears.

Make no mistake; you are calling Republicans racists while pretending you're not doing exactly what it is you're doing.

Please explain why. I have seen a whole lot of posts attacking me and injecting all sorts of beliefs and commentary into my posts. Is it racist to have a visceral reaction to an image? Do you believe that most people are truly colorblind and view all races the same?

The fact is; you and I both know that there's not much difference between someone who is a racist and someone who panders to racists. On a moral and political level, it's a meaningless distinction and nobody with any significant amount of intelligence would say otherwise.

Quite a stretch. So now politicians that pander to various groups, be they religious, political, or cultural, are now no different than the groups themselves? So if a politician panders to the Cuban-American population does that mean that he is, in fact, a Cuban-American?

Anyway, with this, we now come to the subject this thread is all about. You and people like you (liberals) assert that the Willie Horton ad had a "racial implication" that the GOP must have been aware of; it was (in part) designed to send a subliminal message to white voters that played on their latent prejudices to make them vote Republican.

Well I can't speak for the GOP on this. I do believe that the PAC in question and most likely the Bush Campaign knew the implication of running the ad the way they did.

Who are these people? How come you're so certain that this is the way the people in (for example) Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc. thought in 1988? How come you (and Chris Matthews) are so very confident that the RNC's anti-Harold Ford ad would motivate a politically significant number of white Tennesseans to run to the polls in 2006 to pull the GOP lever just because a blonde directed a flirty "Call me!" at Harold Ford in a campaign ad?

I have no idea whether the ad was effective. Maybe. Maybe not.

Well, I, personally, completely dispute your belief that they were any "racial implications" or "subliminal messages" buried in any of these ads. Neither do I believe that the people who designed and produced them actually did so with the intention or knowledge that they would stir up these "racial implications" in their party's favor.

Ok. So you believe that the Republican Party is pure as the driven snow and if it wasn't for the TRUE racists such as those who represent African-Americans, this would be a non-issue.

Perhaps it's simply a complete lack of awareness regarding the impact of racial images. I don't know for sure. It would surprise it is not impossible.

I'll ask again. Why do African-Americans vote so overwhelmingly for the Democrats? Do you honestly think that the Republican Party is completely innocent in alienating that voting block?

Virtually every response to my comments and questions here has been almost the EXACT SAME THING. Accusations of me being a racist myself. Accusations of me adhering to some Liberal dogma and attacking the Republicans. No responses to any my questions.

And of course the ORIGINAL comment I made that spawned this was the BOTH the Democratic and Republican Party pander to race. Of course all of you accept, as a matter of faith, that the Democratic Party does, indeed, pander to race. But to even accept the POSSIBILITY that the Republicans do the same thing, is simply not possible. Think about that.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

I said that they pander to people's fears.

Fears of what? Let us not be nebulous. Specify, please.

So if a politician panders to the Cuban-American population does that mean that he is, in fact, a Cuban-American?

Ah, here it is. I generally expect something like this from you. No disrespect intended, you know how to resort to sophistry with the best of them.

And I know that you are smart enough to know that there is a major difference in degree and kind from pandering to Cuban Americans and pandering to racists. Just as there is a serious difference between pandering to Jewish voters and pandering to anti-Semites.

Would you vote for someone who panders to racists on his promise to you that he actually is not a racist - he's just pretending to be a racist?

I do believe that the PAC in question and most likely the Bush Campaign knew the implication of running the ad the way they did.

Okay. Good. What was the implication? More votes for Bush, definitely. From who, though? Can you give an answer to that since you seem so familiar with what they were thinking? Who were the National Security PAC trying to convince into voting for Bush?

All you posts here indicate that you believe that Willie Horton's race (not just his crimes) was a big issue for a significant number of voters. Am I right or wrong?

PS: The PAC and the Bush Campaign both have long denied that there was any co-operation between them on that ad. Please either post a link to prove your assertion that the Bush Campaign and the National Security PAC did what you're saying or discontinue trying to pass it off as fact.

Why do African-Americans vote so overwhelmingly for the Democrats?

It's certainly not because Democrats have a better record on race than Republicans by any objective measure. Personally, I believe that the black vote went Democrat largely due to LBJ's Great Society programs, and less so on race.

Let me ask you a question; why do evangelicals overwhelmingly vote for Republicans? Are Democrats truly anti-faith? Do you believe it's because they pander to haters of Christians? In other words, "... do you honestly think that the [Democrat Party] is completely innocent in alienating that voting block?

Of course all of you accept, as a matter of faith, that the Democratic Party does, indeed, pander to race. But to even accept the POSSIBILITY that the Republicans do the same thing, is simply not possible. Think about that.

You're accusing the GOP of pandering to racists and somehow trying to soften the blow by ludicrously assuring us that even though Republicans pander to racists, you don't think Republicans are racists themselves.

Forgive me for saying it, but you're absolutely crazy if you think any Republican is going to smile and think you didn't just launch a major smear at his party.

And I know that you are smart enough to know that there is a major difference in degree and kind from pandering to Cuban Americans and pandering to racists. Just as there is a serious difference between pandering to Jewish voters and pandering to anti-Semites.

What's the difference? You said that pandering to a group means you are no different than the group. THAT is sophistry.

Would you vote for someone who panders to racists on his promise to you that he actually is not a racist - he's just pretending to be a racist?

I guess no matter how many times I say that they weren't pandering to racists, it won't change you from asking that question.

More votes for Bush, definitely. From who, though? Can you give an answer to that since you seem so familiar with what they were thinking? Who were the National Security PAC trying to convince into voting for Bush?

Most likely they were trying to get people to vote for Bush that weren't ALREADY going to vote for Bush. Independents, disaffected Conservatives/Republicans, and perhaps even a few Democrats. That IS the purpose of campaign advertising.

Personally, I believe that the black vote went Democrat largely due to LBJ's Great Society programs, and less so on race.

Well I think there are many different reasons. From what I understand the shift started under FDR and became more and more polar with each passing decade.

Let me ask you a question; why do evangelicals overwhelmingly vote for Republicans? Are Democrats truly anti-faith? Do you believe it's because they pander to haters of Christians? In other words, "... do you honestly think that the [Democrat Party] is completely innocent in alienating that voting block?

Nope. I think that the Democratic Party most certainly deserves some blame for that. They pushed for certain policies that were certain to upset many evangelicals without providing any counterbalancing argument. As evangelicals became more and more antagonistic to these policies the Democratic Party became more acrimonious towards the evangelicals.

You're accusing the GOP of pandering to racists and somehow trying to soften the blow by ludicrously assuring us that even though Republicans pander to racists, you don't think Republicans are racists themselves.

Actually, no. I never said they were pandering to racists. You guys keep saying that.

Forgive me for saying it, but you're absolutely crazy if you think any Republican is going to smile and think you didn't just launch a major smear at his party.

I'm also apparently crazy if I think I could ever have an honest discussion about race and politics in America. Because apparently everybody is so busy trying to convince people how NOT racist they are they can't be bothered to talk about the actual issues.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

I have seen a whole lot of posts attacking me and injecting all sorts of beliefs and commentary into my posts. Is it racist to have a visceral reaction to an image? Do you believe that most people are truly colorblind and view all races the same?

You are saying here that they ran that ad at least partly to induce a visceral reaction to Willie Horton's color. The implication is that the reaction will be negative and due to his brown skin. That is accusing them of pandering to racists, thereby being racist. You proceed to mockingly ask if we believe everyone is colorblind.

My contention is that any visceral reaction to Horton was because he looked like a fricking ax murderer (which, coincidentally, he is!) Not because he is brown. I work with brown guys, have a very dark brown guy from Africa as a Sunday School teacher, am friends with his wife, went to school with other people of all shades. I do not have a visceral reaction to brown skin!!!!

We do have visceral reaction to people who look like thugs. And we have the brains to oppose candidates who support turning them loose on the rest of us. That is not racism. It is evil of the Democrats to accuse us of racism every time someone with brown skin (or tan skin in the case of Ford) shows up in a campaign commercial.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

You are saying here that they ran that ad at least partly to induce a visceral reaction to Willie Horton's color. The implication is that the reaction will be negative and due to his brown skin. That is accusing them of pandering to racists, thereby being racist. You proceed to mockingly ask if we believe everyone is colorblind.

I will concede that it is possible that that the ad makers were simply unaware of the likely response that showing his picture would have.

This goes to a question I asked earlier. If a person were to see an ad of a black person and react differently than a picture of white person, eventhough both are similar in general economic stature and appearance, does that make them a racist?

It is evil of the Democrats to accuse us of racism every time someone with brown skin (or tan skin in the case of Ford) shows up in a campaign commercial.

Evil? Is it evil for Republicans to claim that Liberals want to ban the Bible? Politics is a harsh game and both sides are more than willing to say all sorts of clearly untrue and meanspirited stuff to advance their cause.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

If a person were to see an ad of a black person and react differently than a picture of white person, eventhough both are similar in general economic stature and appearance, does that make them a racist?

Different? Not necessarily. Negative? Yes.

Certainly we can have different reactions. e.g. He looks like so and so. He's cute. He is as strong as an ox. However, if you have a negative reaction to either one because of their skin color, it is racism. e.g. He's probably too stoopid to get a voter ID. He is a product of affirmative action. He's probably an ax murderer.

Evil? Is it evil for Republicans to claim that Liberals want to ban the Bible? Politics is a harsh game and both sides are more than willing to say all sorts of clearly untrue and meanspirited stuff to advance their cause.

Yes, if you accuse a liberal of trying to ban the Bible and it's a lie, that is one of the big ten evils (Thou shalt not bear false witness). And I am well aware that politicians and their hired guns will lie, cheat and steal to get the reins of power, but I happen to believe that it is evil each and every time they do it.

Our country was built on the blood of great men. To treat elected office as a power play and not use the office for service to the greater good of the country is contemptuous of that great sacrifice.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

Certainly we can have different reactions. e.g. He looks like so and so. He's cute. He is as strong as an ox. However, if you have a negative reaction to either one because of their skin color, it is racism. e.g. He's probably too stoopid to get a voter ID. He is a product of affirmative action. He's probably an ax murderer.

And perhaps this is where the great divide begins.

I think that people can't help there natural inclinations. You inherently trust that which identify with more and don't trust that which you don't identify with.

While we can certainly call that racism if we so choose I think it renders the term meaningless.

I think, otoh, that your examples are much more clearly defined examples of racism. Those are visceral associations as much as conscious beliefs that someone holds.

To bring in another topic being talked about here, many people, on both sides of the aisle, have said that Barack Obama his name is too foreign. Is that racism? Would it be racist for Obama opponents to reference his middle name?

Did you consider the Democrats anti-Semites for using George Allen's middle name? I can tell you personally that the first time I even thought of the Jewish connection was when you guys mentioned it here, and I grew up with Jewish people. And of course that doesn't even address the implied anti-Semitism that says that a Jew couldn't win a Senate seat in Virginia.

Our country was built on the blood of great men. To treat elected office as a power play and not use the office for service to the greater good of the country is contemptuous of that great sacrifice.

I can certainly respect and admire that. But that is a difficult position to take and still hold onto partisan alliances.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

I think that people can't help there natural inclinations. You inherently trust that which identify with more and don't trust that which you don't identify with.

The politicians are behind the curve on this one. We don't identify with each other based on skin color anymore, but on other characteristics that we hold in common. For example, I have one friend who is a multi-racial and another who was born in Ghana and is chocolate. We eat together, work in the nursery together, worship together, shop together, go to concerts together, etc. We very much identify with each other.

On the other hand, in another post I referenced a late night trip to Wal-Mart where the hooligans abounded. I didn't identify with them, and I am quite certain they didn't identify with me. And it had nothing to do with skin, other than what we had all over our skin.

Regarding Jewish and Hussein names: We have to be very careful if we are going to call the mention of someone's name racism. I can't imagine anyone allowed the mention of George Allen's middle name to influence their opinion of him, particularly since surely no more than one out of a thousand had any idea that his name was Jewish, let alone cared (And I can't remember what it was right now, but I truly didn't know that Jewish people were identifiable by name. Then again my son is named David :) ). It is more likely that his own lousy campaign did him in.

If we say that the mention of Barak's middle name is trying to pander to the anti-Muslim vote, we are right back where we were with Horton and Ford. The simple showing of a face that was one color or another brought charges of racism. The reality is that if you form a negative opinion of a candidate either because of an ethnic name or ethnic face, you are guilty of racism, but the rest of us who are capable of hearing their name or seeing their face without pre-judging them are the ones who are OK.

It will take some time for this blending to cover the entire country, but it is already all over the place and spreading.

By the way, I will admit to some really serious anti-Muslim feelings, primarily due the stated desire of a large number of Muslim clergy for my forced conversion or death. That has a tendency to make me squeamish. However, my opposition to Barak is entirely due to his liberal positions on issues, as his pastor has not called for my head on a platter.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

I do think that our society is slowly becoming more and more integrated. And hopefully one day racism will indeed be wiped out because we won't actually view other people as being actually different from us.

And certainly socio-economic factors play a huge role in influencing people's opinions. If you have a black man in an Armani suit walking down the street and an unwashed white women in tattered clothes I suspect most here would identify with the former rather than the latter.

But it is hard to deny that those overarching socio-economic factors do seep into our general perceptions of race. And sometimes it can alter how you see people. And, for some, it could even sway their open, even if by only a little bit. They may not even realize it. I don't think that racist is the appropriate term because often times the person has no idea that they have these prejudices, and may actually try to be non-prejudicial whenever they can.

Obama's middle name is an interesting point. Hard to say it's racist to try and use his middle name against him. I don't think, in itself, Hussein has anymore racial heft that Barack or Obama. But Hussein is a name that many Americans do have a very negative view of. So would it be racist, or unfair, for Obama's opponents(be they Democratic challengers or Republicans) to use that negative association against him?

FTR, thank you for some very reasonable comments. Talking about race is a very difficult matter in this country. If we can try and cut through the rhetoric there is a lot of interesting stuff to discuss.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

But Hussein is a name that many Americans do have a very negative view of. So would it be racist, or unfair, for Obama's opponents(be they Democratic challengers or Republicans) to use that negative association against him?

It would not be fair to say that the mention of his middle name is unfair or the equivalent of using that negative association against him. It is his name, for goodness sake.

On the other hand a statement like this would obviously be a problem: "You can't vote for him. He is Barak Hussein Obama. For goodness sake, we are at war with Muslim fanatics, it would be terrible to have a president with a name like Hussein." (Say that in a really shrill, harsh voice like She Who Won't Be Named to see what I mean.)

Of course, there will never be an ad or statement like that. It would be political suicide and they all know it. The unfair accusations will come in those situations where his name is mentioned in a negative ad. The same way that the RNC was portrayed as racists because they had a blonde blowing kisses at Ford.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

Pardon my limited HTML, but this is an interesting book about first impressions:

http://www.amazon.com/Blink-Power-Thinking-Without/dp/0316172324/sr=8-1/...

In it the author writes about studies where groups of people were shown photos for 1-2 seconds and then forced to form opinions about those people. There were many levels to the studies, but one aspect that jumped out was people of all races have a tendency to view African Americans with a little more suspicion than other races. This view could be easily changed by giving the participants more time to get to know the image and the person, but the studies were about first impressions.

to pick that book up. I've heard very good things about it.

"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were and ask why not." George Bernard Shaw

BTY Anyone else remember that the first political use of Willie Horton against Dukakis was by Al Gore?

_______________________________
If "pro" is the opposite of "con", what is the opposite of "progress"?

I don't think Gore ever ran an ad regarding Willie Horton.

But he did refer to Willie Horton -- only not by name. Gore made an issue in the '88 primaries of the prison furlough program and cited a story about one prisoner who was released and subsequently tortured and raped a woman while her husband watched.

It was a legitimate issue against Dukakis and anybody who says that it was race-baiting is only saying that because they want to believe it. It would've been just as legitimate if Horton had been white. But for some odd reason, since he was black, it should've been taboo.

I'll never understand that. Just as I'll never understand how the Harold Ford ad this last cycle was somehow race-baiting.

..."blew the lid off" supposed racism on the part of random white folks.

ABC set up a hidden camera, and had groups of kids on the street approach people on the street, asking for change of $5. One group was black, one was white. The subjects of the "experiment" were mostly white, middle class folks.

Predictably, the white kids had a lot more success. Some of the white folks even crossed the street to avoid dealing with the black teens. Racism, plain and simple, folks, right here in River City!

Of course, there was nothing scientific about this "experiment". There was plenty of information being conveyed by both groups of kids that could have affected the reactions of the people they approached: their stance, their dress, their language, how many in their group, etc.

I'm convinced that in this day & age the majority of people react much more strongly to social class cues than to the single dimension of race. (Not that it's necessarily fair, but it's an aspect of human nature that's going to be awfully hard to legislate away.) In other words, if a white kid looks, acts & talks "ghetto", he'll get pretty much the same reaction from people as a black kid who looks, acts & talks the same way. Yes, there are still people that associate "black = ghetto", but I think that mindset is dying off and most folks want to give a stranger equal consideration regardless of race.

P.S. I live in the South, but I don't necessarily identify as a "Southerner".

On some news show, several brown people shopped at a car lot, a shoe store and maybe somewhere else, I can't remember for sure. They showed the brown shoppers and some tan shoppers in the same store with the same sales people, and there was no question about the differences in the way the people were treated.

However, the news show was the same genre, if not the same show, that rigged the Chevrolet to blow up. I have no idea how many people they shopped, or how many different salesmen they tried or even if it was an enormous set-up with actors hired for both sides in order to produce that show. I do know that I don't trust Hollywood to give me any unbiased information.

I know that just the other day I was in Wal-Mart very late at night, well past my normal bedtime. The store was full of people that I don't normally bump into there. There were hooligans of all shapes, sizes and colors. I have never felt more uncomfortable in a store in my life. People dressed like Halloween, talked in words that I couldn't recognize as English, walked like chickens, pierced things and tattooed places that really have no business being adorned.

My perceptions of them were not favorable, and it had nothing to do with color. I suspect that reaction is more common than me disliking one because of his color and accepting the other because he looks like my teenage neighbor on Halloween.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

...those must have been Springer chickens.

The black vote goes overwhelmingly to the Democrats, but it has nothing at all to do with "racism" on the part of Republicans. It is true that many black voters consider the GOP racist, but that probably is because black voters are overwhelmingly members of the opposing party... and are fed lots of propaganda by their self-anointed leaders. In other words, the issue of "racism" in the GOP is a pure self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby anything even remotely tangential to racial issues is distorted and turned against Republicans.

The GOP, however, is on a very destructive path with the current strategy of pandering to black voters. The Democrats already do that exceedingly well and we can never, ever match them, even assuming (wrongly) it was desirable to try. So flyerhawk is partly correct insofar as the GOP does not actually need black votes, but he is incorrect in that he seems to think the GOP leadership realizes this, when in reality they do not. Of course, if the GOP got its act together, and offered real reform, I think a number of black voters would be interested. Grade C pandering, on the other hand, is a waste of time.

Broadly speaking, the main problem I have with flyerhawks particular contention is the idea we should even care if some people incorrectly read racial biases into the GOP message. And of course, Democrats are prone to hysteria and outright lies on the subject, witness the ads against Bush in 2000 vis-a-vis the hate crimes bill. So the deceit and racism of Democrats seems to me, at any rate, to be an insufficient condition for Republicans to spend time and effort anticipating the nature of the next round of leftist racial mudslinging.

My philosophy is to confront Democrats head-on. The fear of racial accusations, among Republicans, fuels the Democrats disgusting tactics, just as concessions to terrorism fuel more terrorism. It should stop.

We had a liberal poster here several months ago who made the same point. She said her mother and grandmother were very conservative, but still voted for Democrats. She was liberal and voted for Democrats because she agreed with their policies. She couldn't understand why her conservative relation did.

I say that we just have to be more serious about conservative principles and the voters will eventually recognize the more superior ideas and vote accordingly.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

...pandering is the way of the new Republican party.

 
Redstate Network Login:
(lost password?)


©2008 Eagle Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Legal, Copyright, and Terms of Service