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 have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.
The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father — or by stating that the danger was external terrorism. Instead, the child on whom the camera first focuses is blond. Two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black — both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino.
I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Nor, have I drunk the Obama Kool-Aid and become a true believer. However, I must admit that the ugliness of her campaign has pushed me, and I imagine many others, to vote for Obama in order to teach Billary a lesson about taking black folks for granted, and as punishment for how Bill Clinton disingenuously pimped the label of being "America's first black president."
With this qualification noted, I have mixed feelings about the interpretations that some have offered regarding Hillary Clinton's red phone campaign ad where Obama is skewered as being unprepared to lead the country in a crisis:
In fact, Hillary's campaign ad has more in common with the fear mongering offered by the Johnson campaign in its classic "Daisy Girl" commercial: