Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Outrage! Not Only Muslim Women Banned by Obama-Bat Boy has also been Excluded from Pictures by Obama Staffers

As was reported today, the Obama campaign has been carefully selecting who gets to sit behind him during campaign rallies, and subsequently to appear in media coverage of these events. Apparently, several Muslim women were prevented from sitting behind Obama during a campaign rally in Detroit because their head scarves would "send the wrong signal" to those who may see the photo--this is polite speak for how Obama's detractors could potentially use the photo to smear the Democratic candidate.

I am of two minds on this one. The secularist in me doesn't "get religion," and sees this as no more offensive than a campaign staffer carefully crafting a photo op based on any number of participants' attributes. The pluralist side of me finds this problematic because if McCain for example excluded black people from his photo ops (because it would alienate some of his base) folks would rightfully be upset. But again, rightly or wrongly (and this is chess not of my favorite phrases) Obama's supporters should understand the political environment in which Obama is running. Perhaps, one may have to make personal sacrifices in order to see their candidate through to victory.

However, these young women were not the only people to have been excluded from Obama's campaign pictures. Apparently, Bat Boy, that legendary figure of Weekly World News fame has also been politely told by Obama staffers, that while his support of Obama is welcome, and in fact, desired, that Bat Boy should not be featured in pictures with Obama because their appearing together could hurt Obama's chances for victory.

In a recent interview, Bat Boy shared his feelings about being excluded from Obama's campaign events. The story follows.

Bat Boy was barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent him from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.

The campaign has apologized to Bat Boy, but he feels betrayed by his treatment at the rally.

“This is of course not the policy of the campaign. It is offensive and counter to Obama’s commitment to bring Americans together and simply not the kind of campaign we run,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “We sincerely apologize for the behavior of these volunteers.”

Building a human backdrop to a political candidate, a set of faces to appear on television and in photographs, is always a delicate exercise in demographics and political correctness. Advance staffers typically pick supporters out of a crowd to reflect the candidate’s message.

When Obama won the North Carolina primary amid questions about his ability to connect with white voters, for instance, he stood in front of a group of middle-aged white women waving small American flags.

On the Republican side, a Hispanic New Hampshire Democrat, Roberto Fuentes, told Politico that he was recently asked, and declined, to contribute to the “diversity” of the crowd behind Sen. John McCain at a Nashua event.

But for Obama, the old-fashioned image-making contrasts with his promise to transcend identity politics and to embrace all elements of America.

“I was coming to support him, and I felt like I was discriminated against by the very person who was supposed to be bringing this change, who I could really relate to,” said Bat Boy. “The message that I thought was delivered to us was that they do not want him associated with me or with other supporters who are 'different'"

In Detroit on Monday, two different Obama volunteers — in separate incidents — made it clear that Bat Boy wouldn’t be in the picture. The volunteers gave different explanations for excluding him, one bluntly political and the other less clear.

That incident began when the volunteer asked one of Bat Boy's friends if he would like to sit behind the stage. The young man said he would but mentioned he had a friend.

The men said the volunteer, a 20-something African-American woman in a green shirt, asked if his friend looked and was dressed like the young man.

The friend said no.

The volunteer “explained to me that because of the political climate and what’s going on in the world, it’s not good for Bat Boy to be seen on TV or associated with Obama.”

Bat Boy's friend, said: “I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Are you serious?’”

After recovering from the shock of the incident, Bat Boy went to look for the volunteer and confronted her minutes later.

Bat Boy, felt “disappointed, angry and let down,” he later wrote.

Bat Boy was “let down that the Obama campaign continuously perpetuates this attitude towards those who are different — as if being merely associated [with] someone like me is a sin.”

Bat Boy's friend was “shocked” by the contrast between Obama’s message and their experience.

Bat Boy complained to the campaign, and after those complaints and an inquiry from Politico, Obama’s director of advance, Emmett S. Beliveau, called him to apologize.

An Obama aide also noted that the campaign has no policy against the candidate’s appearing with Bat Boy.

Bat Boy said he was glad Obama had apologized, but he was not entirely satisfied.

“I think this is a much bigger deal than maybe they’re perceiving it as,” he said, noting that Obama had placed a personal call to a television reporter he’d dismissively called “Sweetie.”

“An apology from him personally would be better,” Bat Boy said, then reconsidered. “If they are true to their word, I think it would suffice to have an invitation to their next rally and have seats behind him and show up on TV.”


Dame said...

"Obama's supporters should understand the political environment in which Obama is running"


To Quote Dennis Green

"They are who we thought they where"

Until there is real change stemming form the populace in social and political thought (or lack thereof) ish like this will continue.

chaunceydevega said...

This is a touchy one. On one hand we want our elected leaders to live up to certain ideals, on the other hand they have to get elected first, which necessitates some less than ideal behavior. Classic conundrum.

I peeped your site too--good stuff! especially the wack myspace rapper of the week...they are spreading like a disease


Anonymous said...

A chess match is indeed afoot, but I think that this is merely an additional example of the reality behind the hollow rhetoric of change, historicity, blackness, blah, blah, blah