Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"The Red Phone In Black & White"

I want to thank an e-mailer named "xaymaca" for sending me the following link.

It's an oped from the New York Times, and it was written by my homeboy, and one of my favorite thinkers in A-merry-ca today, Orlando Patterson.

Here goes:

"ON first watching Hillary Clinton’s recent “It’s 3 a.m.” advertisement, I was left with an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right — something that went beyond my disappointment that she had decided to go negative. Repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease. I realized that I had only too often in my study of America’s racial history seen images much like these, and the sentiments to which they allude.

I am not referring to the fact that the ad is unoriginal; as several others have noted, it mimics a similar ad made for Walter Mondale in his 1984 campaign for the Democratic nomination. What bothers me is the difference between this and the Mondale ad. The Mondale ad directly and unequivocally played on the issue of experience. The danger was that the red telephone might be answered by someone who was “unsure, unsteady, untested.” Why do I believe this? Because the phone and Mr. Mondale are the only images in the ad. Fair game in the normal politics of fear.

Not so this Clinton ad. To be sure, it states that something is “happening in the world” — although it never says what this is — and that Mrs. Clinton is better able to handle such danger because of her experience with foreign leaders. But every ad-maker, like every social linguist, knows that words are often the least important aspect of a message and are easily muted by powerful images.

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..."

There is more here.

Soooooo it looks like The Ice Queen's ad guys gave us a subliminal Willie Horton moment.

I wonder if it worked with its intended target?


The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

So is she portraying herself at Batman? Cause that's the only thing the red phone reminds me of: a call from Commissioner Gordon to Batman to save the day.

Which homegirl can't do cause her 35 years of experience as Bill Clinton's wife has not prepared her for that. Even Clinton's former Cabinet members are starting to grumble about how she didn't do that much as First Lady.

Ann Brock said...

Field who was her intended target? Which segment of society was that ad aim at?

Anonymous said...

For a blistering dissent to Professor Patterson's op-ed, and some added criticism of some of Patterson's earlier writing, here is Bob Somerby's reply in today's Daily Howler (starts about halfway into his post).

{For anyone interested, here is a brief background on Somerby and his blog.}

Ain't got a dog in this particular fight, fwiw. I was a somewhat ambivalent Obama voter in last month's Maryland primary, but after hearing Ferraro, and seeing that HRC didn't fire her ass immediately, I'm feeling a whole lot better about my vote.

Anonymous said...

If there's subtext, it's too subtle for me. I'm a fairly cynical and paranoid woman, when all is said and done but that one went right over my head.

I'm actually more of the opinion that Ferrarro's little fit is tooo conveniently timed so that now they can completely let slip the dogs of war, pointing to Mississipi as yet another Black Win.

Swear to god, some of her people (Clinton) are acting like this is some kind of Black Lotto and Obama holds the winning ticket for the Entire Black Race of the World. That he must be stopped at all costs from cashing that ticket or oooooh no, racism will trump sexism in the suffering sweepstakes.

After today's noise, he could be Sinbad and I would still vote for him over Hillary or McCain.

Anonymous said...

After what Ferraro said, I'm mad as hell. The Clinton campaign has gone off the deep end.

field negro said...

"Field who was her intended target? Which segment of society was that ad aim at?"

Every A-merry-can in the majority population with a family.

The "O" man represents the unknown black bogyman. Willie Horton with a suit, and a nice voice.

Thanks for the link to the opposing point of view "rglrlrkr", I will be sure to check it out.

LOL at the Batman reference christ.prog. I am a big Bruce Wayne fan myself :)

Anonymous said...

you say your Dark Knight fan, what comics do you own? what is your favorite movie? mines the 1992 one,Batman returns

field negro said...

Yes elle,I am a fan of the "caped crusader". Hmmm, let me see now, I threw out all my DC comics when I was like 10. (sad to say). But my favorite Batman movie was from the sixties. With Adam West playing Batman, and Burt Ward playing Robin. I liked the most recent one with Chritian Bale (Batman Begins) as well. Still waiting on the newest one, where the recently deceased Heath Ledger plays the Joker. The buzz is good around it. In a way, Gotham City is like Philly. It is totally lawless right now, and we need a hero like Batman to clean this shit up.

But why am I talking about Batman?
See what you did elle? That's it, no more small talk. ~~~ back to angry black man mode~~ :(O

Anonymous said...

It was what I immediately thought of when I saw the red phone ad. I was an ambivalent voter for Obama but as things progress, I am increasingly happy with my vote.

I am also getting more and more impressed with my first grade teacher, in the sixties. She was running anti-racism education in preparation for impending integration of schools - it was a program - and it seemed normal then but I keep realizing it was outright radical and very sophisticated. We studied all of these bogeyman images of Black people, picked apart the rhetoric, looked at what the underlying assumptions were, and kept being told, this is *not* how we are going to frame race relations any more. I am now convinced that this teacher was some kind of powerful activist in her free time and I'd like to resurrect her so she can teach her program again. It worked
on first graders so maybe it would work generally.

A.F. said...

There was a book that came out in the 80's--*White Women, Race Matters*--The author interviews scores of middle-class white women and asks them to free associate about rape. It turns out that even though of course, statistically, white middle class women are raped by white men whom they know, a large percentage of the women interviewed associated rape with a black man breaking into their house in the middle of the night (which is statistically quite unlikely). And I thought about that study when I saw the HRC ad, though this is just the type of thing that when you bring it up, people start saying it's such a stretch, etc. But I know that HRC's advisors would be very aware of those kinds of studies. She's a monster.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the ad had anything racially misaligned towards Obama.

However, it is a very bad ad for Hillary to run .

Why would Hillary be up at 3am answering the red phone?
Because she's waiting for Bill to come home!

I'm sorry, but that's just too easy a target. Now Obama and/or his supporters can hit back with that and that would be far more damaging than bringing up her ties with Wal-Mart or lobbyists or that Kosovo thing.

Anonymous said...

Not that this hasn't been said before (because I usually only tend to comment now if I got something to contribute thoroughly), but how is she going to, on the one hand, lambaste (and I do use that word correctly) this Black man but on the same token make him VP. I don't think she understands what a VP is supposed to be i.e. your replacement should anything happen to you. This politics game reminds me of rap beef with all these subliminals ...

Christopher said...

I've never seen "Birth of a Nation," so I'm not a position to draw a comparison.

One thing I can add is, I've noticed is an increasingly odorous air of racism from Hillary Clinton's campaign.

You had Billary playing the race card in South Carolina with his Jesse Jackson crack. Then there was that old hag, Geraldine Ferarro making the outrageous racial remark that the only reason Barack Obama is where he is today, is because he's a black man.

The Clintons are clearly engaged in a carefully constructed campaign of race baiting targeting tweener whites in rural areas in places like Pennsylvania and North Carolina. These tweener whites won't use the "N" word when discussing Obama and they would speak out against dangling a noose from a hangin' tree but, they're not ready to pull the vote lever for Obama, either. These tweeners are only half evolved.

Hillary Clinton's constituents are older, white women, aging feminists and tweener, rural whites. She knows how to manipulate them. As I've said before, if Hillary steals the nomination from Barack Obama, I will not vote for her. I will sit out the election and wait for 2012 and Al Gore who has intimated he may run for president then.

Anonymous said...

Dagg Jim, you Negroes would find white racism in a dog's fart; sheech.

Gott Damn! Punk gott damn.

If she (Hillary Clinton) had used a Black woman and her Black children in the ad, you'd be complaining that there was no Black husband in the house and also claiming that the ad implied that a white woman can take better care of the security needs of Black people and the nation than a Black man (Obama).

Anonymous said...

Might have a point, but the footage in the ad was old stock footage.The little sleeping girl is an Obama supporter, now 18 years old. Claiming the text has Racial overtones gives it too much credit.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

I want to see Mammy Maggie Williams, and her sidekick Minyon Moore spin that Ferraro comment about Obama's race.

Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder can see racism whey they see it. If those sistas actually working for the Borg Queen's campaign cannot see racism coming from her and her surrogates like Ferraro, they need to be designated Handkerchief Heads from here on in. It's becoming obvious that educated Black women can get played, know they're being played, and allow themselves to get played, anyway.

As for Ferraro, someone needs to call Walter Mondale and ask if he's forgiven her, or those in the Democratic Party for forcing her onto his ticket when he ran for POTUS, cause she cost him the election - Reagan won re-election without even breaking wind.

focusedpurpose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher said...

As for Ferraro, someone needs to call Walter Mondale and ask if he's forgiven her...

Walter Mondale has his nose up the Borg Queen's rectum. He endorsed her months ago.

Molly said...

I didn't see that in the ad, but it certainly could be so. My impression was that she was trying to appeal to women, her biggest fans, with the image of a woman at home fearful for her children. Perhaps it is a little of both.

I was pretty suspicious of Ferraro's timing of the comments yesterday. Seems awfully concidental that it came out the day of the Mississippi primary. It definitely diverted attention from Obama's win and also, again, couched the election in racial terms, which serves to further discount the Mississippi win because, you know, that's only the black folks voting for him.

brotherkomrade said...

"It's becoming obvious that educated Black women can get played, know they're being played, and allow themselves to get played, anyway."

I'm not liking that part of your comment. To me you are generalizing. There are very few educated black women who support Clinton and the ones who do have their reasons good or bad. And as for the women of color who are working in the Clinton campaign, only their checking account, god, or their psychologist can tell us for sure as to why they are still with her. I do not think these women are being played though.

baatin. said...

hey all! turns out that geraldine ferraro also said this on April 15 1988, as reported by THAT day's Washington Post:

And former representative Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that because of his 'radical' views, 'if Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race.'

that's another quick $25 to the O-man from me. something's been itching in this old broad's ass for the past 20 years, and I wonder what it is. i hope this story gets around the web like a motherfucker and exposes hillary's really obvious, blatantly racist agenda in attacking barack. Whatever happened to her experience and issues? she doesn't get my vote even if she wins the thing. NO FUCKING WAY. i just can't believe how much i actually once believed in the clintons. crazy what four months can do. and the media suddenly playing the racial aspect from his mississipi win, while REALLY ACTIVELY ignoring hiw wyoming win just a few days before.....who voted for him there????? fuck msm for listening to hillary's campaign. there, lemme go back to work now.

Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

There is an old saying that beauty is only skin deep. I think that applies to many other things as well. Because of that, you see a lot of people, here and elsewhere, running the danger of being too narrowly focused on only one aspect, such as ethnicity, while ignoring many other factors that are at least as important, and actually more so.

People forget that H. Clinton is not a participant in a pickup basketball game. She is instead engaged in a long, grueling political campaign that for her, a "mere" woman, is now turning out to be much more extended and difficult than anyone could have imagined. Instead of a horse race or any other benign sports event, this is a duel to the death, almost as much as the gladiators in the Rome's Colosseum, and in any political event as intense as this there should be no surprise or feelings of outrage at anything a participant picks up.

Also B. Obama isn't the only one that H. Clinton is running against. Remember J. McCain? If you have, the two Democrats definitely haven't, one reason being that J.McCain and his side are already running against them with anything they can find, mainly against B. Obama, though only as long as they think he is the Dem with the best chance.

If you know anything at all about J. McCain, you know that he's the epitome of belligerence, and he, much more than B. Obama, is the man you definitely wouldn't want to get his hands on the red phone. Any sensible person would know that, and I believe H. Clinton is sensible.

Besides, directing that ad only at B. Obama would be too great a waste of subtlety, directed at people on whom subtlety is always at great risk of being wasted.

And speaking of subtlety, I have seen "Birth of a Nation" more than once, and comparing that to a picture of a silent red phone is a stretch a person should be ashamed to make.

Unknown said...

I saw the same thing Patterson saw in the red phone add. But, I am surprised he wanted to go there in his public comments. I think it is high time that we let Hillary Clinton and her minions be the ones to bring race into the primaries. We can agree that we see it when someone asks us, but we need to leave the outrage behind. We need to say, 'yeah. we see what she is doing but so what?'

The days when that kind of politics worked are over, done and gone. We are into something new now. Now we look at people for who they are and what they have done. And Hillary Clinton is failing that test. She is running as a divider, not a uniter. She represents the failed politics of the past. We are over her. Let's move on.

I think that all of our outrage is just playing into her hands and truning her into the 'White' candidate in the minds of many older voters. There are two problems with that.

The first problem is, of course, that there are a lot more whites than blacks in the party. But the second problem with it is that it is unfair to white Party members who have long since gotten over all that crap and who vote for, and actively support black candidates whose policies they believe in.

After the Wyoming caucuses, when Obama carried the state in a blowout, I am unwilling to pidgeon hole white people into one voting block any longer. It just doesn't stand up to a close look.

Clinton is the one who does not seem to have got that memo yet. So, let her throw the race bomb and let it blow up in her face. She may use it to steal the nomination. But she will take the Democratic party down with her in the fall as millions of voter, black, white, and other go to the polls and pull the lever for someone else in November.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Admiral Komrade, those sistas of which you speak, and of which I speak are one and the same.

Most sistas working for Hillary, seeing her campaign tactics up close and personal like that, would tender resignation letters and would be emailing the "O" man tips as to where the Borg Queen is most vulnerable.

I don't think I was generalizing, because I am a highly educated sista who knows when I'm being played, and make my choices as to whether or not I continue to allow myself to be played.

I repeat myself when I say because I work in the field of Civil Rights and EEO, I know what the deal is. Sometimes, it can be charged to the game; most times, it cannot be excused. Racism is ugly, insidious and does no one credit in terms of social justice and the encouragement of the ethnic races or gender.

The sistas still continuing to work for Hillary Clinton, in light of all the racial, scorched-earth tactics, and now, her lame denouncement of Geraldine Ferraro's racial comments about Obama; coupled with the coded-word comments coming from her key surrogates, as well as her meltdown with Samantha Power called her a "monster" which resulted in Ms. Power's resignation, speaks volumes about how willing she is to play the victim, and how low she will go to play the victim.

The sistas in Hillary's camp are not stupid. Perhaps, their main fault is ambition. But the most powerful Black women didn't get where they are by being played like Hillary's playing them at present.

I'm sorry if you thought I was generalizing, but I don't think I was.

Christopher, Mondale did that endorsement on the DL. Wonder why that is. But, has he forgiven Klanswoman Ferraro for costing him the White House almost 25 years ago?

Now the Clinton campaign is putting out smoke signals that are trying to excuse Ferraro's comments by saying her cancer meds are making her go off on Obama.

Yeah, Riiiight. But we need to remind people that when she made similar comments about Jesse Jackson 20 years ago, she wasn't ill or had been diagnosed with anything serious.

If you're that sick, you have no business fundraising for the Borg Queen, nor shilling on Fake News to justify your comments. A drugged person would at least retract what they said, not add to it and make it worse.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Brother Komrade:

I confused you with another blogger who calls himself "Admiral" Komrade, even though I'm sure YOU earned the rank, LOL.

I was thinking about Lani Guinier and Joycelyn Elders, two sistas who refused to allow themselves to get played by the Clintons. In fact, because they stood by their own comments made at the time, Clinton's husband slung them under the bus to shut up the ReThugs calling for one's resignation because she said masturbation was a healthy and safe outlet for sexual tension. Guinier got called a "quota queen" because Orin Hatch could read but didn't comprehend her report on racial differences in employment and education. She should have at least got her confirmation hearing as asst. AG of Civil Rights.

Clinton told her to take a hike and pulled her nomination off the table because Orin Hatch was whining like a WATB. The Clintons were guests at her wedding, for God's sake, and therefore considered her friends at the time.

The Clintons haven't even bothered to speak to her in over 15 years; not even to offer an apology for failing to stand up to the ReThugs concerning her nomination.

As I said, Guinier and Elders refused to be played by offering apologies to satisfy the sensibilities of Orin Hatch - which is what they could have done to save their positions and themselves.

They chose to stand on principle and ethics; two words that do not belong in the same sentence when referring to Bill or Hillary Clinton.

That's what I meant by "played". And Maggie Williams shouldn't have taken the job of Campaign manager, when it wasn't offered to her in the first place (if Hillary had that much respect for Maggie's skiles, why go with Patti Solis Doyle, who promptly got tossed under the train by the Clintons when Hillary started losing?)?

That's being played, and knowing you are being played.

Christopher said...

Geraldine Ferarro is insane.

Today she said her comments on Barack Obama's race were being "spun" he should be thanking her for the comments.

Rather than retreat from her seemingly foot-in-mouth comments, the former New York City lawmaker has decided to go on offense. Ferraro has claimed her words were taken out of context and has decried being painted as racist by some.

"The spin on the words has been that somehow I was addressing the his qualifications. I was not," Ferraro said Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning America. "I was celebrating the fact that the black community in this country came out with a pride in a historic candidacy, and has shown itself at the polls. You'd think he'd say, 'Yeah thank you for doing that. ... we want to say thank you to the community.' Instead I'm charged with being a racist."

Just like the Borg Queen, Geraldine the Klan Seamstress, is playing the victim card now.

This is what awaits us if the Borg Queen somehow muscles her way into the presidency.

Woozie said...

There is such a thing as reading WAY too deep into something.

Woozie said...

Geraldine Ferraro, on the other hand, is a dumb racialist cunt. Ain't no reading too deep into that.

Grata said...

First time visiting your blog after seeing the young girl/ Hillary picture referenced to you on other blogs.
You have a new visitor.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi FN,

I have actually seen Birth of a Nation; it's amazing that not only can parallels be drawn between Hillary's ad and that film but the media in general has not progressed that much from Birth of a Nation.

In fact a lot of rap videos could be modern day incarnations of BOAN.

The problem is that many people don't know much about the racist history of America beyond police attack dogs in Alabama and Slavery so it's hard for them to make the connection.

Admiral Komack said...

"Admiral Komrade, those sistas of which you speak, and of which I speak are one and the same."


Hillary was playing to the fear that the black man would be answering the the phone at 3 a.m....the black man that does purty speeches...you know...the one that don't have experience.
Of course Hillary is just sloppin' over with experience...so she's your gal.

Lola Gets said...

Ferraros comments almost make me ashamed to be a woman. Cant they run a clean campaign?


Admiral Komack said...

The Christian Progressive Liberal:
"I confused you with another blogger who calls himself "Admiral" Komrade, even though I'm sure YOU earned the rank, LOL."

-Thank you
(Puts down phaser rifle) :-)

Have those people the Clintons threw under the bus made their opinions known concerning this election Lani Guinier and Joycelyn Elders)?

Admiral Komack said...

Didn't close parenthesis before Lani-sorry.
(placing bottle of Saurian brandy back on table)

Anonymous said...

Hillary must be a student of Karl Rove. She is swift-boating Obama to cover her weakness, Iraq.

Bush/Rove used this very effectively against Kerry whose war record was sterling.

As for Ms. Geraldine, I suppose you could say that if Hillary was not a woman, no one would be paying any attention to her.

Hillary et. al. could care f**k all if they bring the party down. After all, she's only following in Bill's footsteps.

Christopher said...


Geraldine Ferraro is leaving the Hillary Clinton campaign in the wake of a controversy regarding her remarks about Barack Obama.


Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

RedLipstick said...

"As for Ms. Geraldine, I suppose you could say that if Hillary was not a woman, no one would be paying any attention to her."

...or if she wasn't married to Bill Clinton...

The black man as bogeyman [sp]is a very real and powerful stereotypical image. I would ask all the brown brothers have they ever encountered this:

At a nice office building, waiting next to the elevator in the parking garage. A white woman walks up and presses the button. Maybe it's just the two of you. What happens next?

a) nothing at all
b) suddenly remembers that she forgot something and quickly walks back to her car
c) gets on elevator and ever so gently clutches her bag tightly while standing as far as possible from you

Anonymous said...

Slightly OT:

Field, what's the deal between Nutter and the O man? Last Feb. '07, it looked like Nutter was gonna Obama, but then he switched to Hillary. Is it because O endorsed Chaka Fattah? And aren't Nutter and Obama similar in political views? Why can't these brothas come together?

Anonymous said...

Dear Field Negro,

Have heard that Bill Clinton went on Rush Limbaugh radio show in order to advertise Hillary to Pennsylvania voters?....same tactic,same strategy,it's all about the fear of the "O"Man

You live in Pennsylvania, right? How is it? Is it a racist state? I've heard that it is THE most racist state in the U.S. (more than Alabama apparently...)How is it down there?

Field Negro, The Clintons have chosen a destructive strategy. They plan "political suicide bombers" who go out and destroy themselves with racist comments but do it for the good of the cause it seems like....Ferraro's comment had perfect timing to my mind, right in the middle of Mississippi so it can be underlined that Obama got a High percentage of A.A. voters and before Pennsylvania to lay out the ground for the racist voters to come out freely and speak outloud about how "A.A. are stealing their jobs because of affirmative action."

Last question Dear Field Negro: what do you think the consequences of such a destructive, racist, KKK strategy could have on the A.A. community throughout the USA? What are people thinking about that stuff? Are thinks heating up, if you see what I mean?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Carl(aka sofarsogood):
Also B. Obama isn't the only one that H. Clinton is running against. Remember J. McCain? If you have, the two Democrats definitely haven't, one reason being that J.McCain and his side are already running against them with anything they can find, mainly against B. Obama, though only as long as they think he is the Dem with the best chance

If I remember didn't Hillary meet with McCain to say she respected his experience. Hillary hasn't forgotten McCain, after all you don't forget allies.

And FN, your an old school Batman fan, of the stuff from the Silver Age. Me, I'm younger, and came up with the 90s and 80s Batman comics,particularly the ones written by Frank Miller, of Sin City fame.

I didn't like Batman Begins though,it wasn't "dark" enough, I hope the Dark Knighte is better.

field negro said...

Hi grata, welcome to the fields.

"And FN, your an old school Batman fan, of the stuff from the Silver Age. Me, I'm younger, and came up with the 90s "

Woha elle, don't put me in the old folks home just yet. I ain't that old :)

"As for Ms. Geraldine, I suppose you could say that if Hillary was not a woman, no one would be paying any attention to her."

Isn't that the irony of this whole thing.

Grata said...

"Hi grata, welcome to the fields".

Thanks fo the welcome field. You are welcome to my village anytime.

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