Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Race in the Race

So I'm watching the Bill Maher show on HBO a couple of nights ago and the "It's OK" ad by the Romney campaign comes up for discussion. Maher is probably the most left wing guy on American TV but I have always respected his principled stances on issues that the left should stand by but have abandoned to populism and political correctness. Anyway, in this discussion Maher implied that there was a racist element to the ad. Other guests objected to this as another example of Obama supporters playing the race card. Below is the short video.

What Maher objected to were the words "he tried, you tried, it's ok to make a change". Now I am the type that dislikes when race is injected into an argument but this is not to say that it never is. I have become convinced in recent times that in a clever way race is very deliberately used in American politics by politicians and pundits from both sides. You see, in all western countries the majority of the population are politically inattentive. They do not vote nor do they pay attention to political developments. A significant percentage of the population has no concept of what it means to be left or right wing. But everybody understands race. Everybody knows there is a race issue. That goes for 100% of the population. And that's why it is used by politicians who know it can excite their bases and by pundits who recognise that race is ratings gold. When Newt Gingrich referred to Obama as the foodstamp President, this wasn't a rascist statement but it clearly wasn't a random word either. It was deliberately used to evoke images of blacks queuing for handouts and to provoke an accusation of being racist because nothing fires up the base more than a false allegation of racist behaviour and rightly so.

I believe the "It's ok" ad is also in that vein. The phrase "You tried" and "It's ok to make a change" is in my opinion designed to provoke a perception in the minds of the listner that they need not give into white guilt by voting for Obama a second time. "You tried" means you tried voting for the black man. "It's ok" means it's not racist to change your vote. I don't know if many people voted for Obama in 2008 on the basis of white guilt but any who did were moronic beyond belief. I doubt many will do so next November. That makes me wonder why the RNC decided to play the ad. I think it was another example of race being injected into the discussion in a subtle way in order to excite the race baiters. I believe that the Republicans want to strengthen the perception that conservatives and especially now moderates are under siege from race baiters who will label them bigots when confronted by reason. That perception will get Romney votes. And of course liberals also love to get the racial juices flowing as we saw recently with Vice President Biden's outrageous "ya'll in chains" remark but in fairness to the Democrats the worst of it from the left comes from liberal media outlets like MSNBC and many bloggers who as I have already said, recognise that race is ratings gold.

And just for good measure enjoy this other rather absurd video whose creators seem to think the Obama administration has accused everyone who didn't vote for the President of hating blacks.


The System Works said...

Hi Ted,

Thanks for talking about this subject. The racial factor is incredibly interesting but one that too many people are afraid to talk about directly.

My favorite line came from the Yahoo! News chief, who claimed that Republicans were “happy to have a party when black people drown” (in reference to the timing of the RNC with Hurricane Isaac).

Ted Leddy said...

Thanks John

I also thought the picture released by the Obama camp of the President sitting in his chair with the caption "this seat's taken" was a similar subtle attempt to invoke racial images. The picture, which was in response to Clint Eastwood's empty chair skit immediately reminded me of the scene in Forrest Gump when little Forrest was met with the sound of bigoted southern voices who wouldn't let him sit beside them on the bus. "This seat's taken" also provokes images of Rosa parks getting kicked off a bus. I don't know, maybe I'm seeing race everywhere but I do think the phrase was deliberately used to remind blacks that they weren't allowed sit where they wanted for so long, and now that they have the top seat in the land, they're not going to give it up easy.