Harvard prof: You know what Hillary’s “3 a.m.” ad reminds me of? Birth of a Nation

posted at 9:57 am on March 11, 2008 by Allahpundit

There had to be a murky racial subtext in there somewhere; every attack on Obama contains one if you’re just willing to look hard enough. I thought TPM would be the ones to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but instead it’s Orlando Patterson, drinking in a critique of a black candidate that features sleeping non-black children and concluding, naturally enough, that it’s quasi-Klan propaganda.

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…

It is possible that what I saw in the ad is different from what Mrs. Clinton and her operatives saw and intended. But as I watched it again and again I could not help but think of the sorry pass to which we may have come — that someone could be trading on the darkened memories of a twisted past that Mr. Obama has struggled to transcend.

Standard caution applies: If the left is this hot to play the race card on the wife of the “first black president,” nothing but nothing’s going to save Maverick from demagoguery 100 times as bad. Exit question: If you need a Ph.D. in sociology and familiarity with a silent film most Americans have never seen to grasp the “real” meaning of a spot intended to sway a mass audience, might it be that the fatal subtext isn’t really there?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Another example of someone who wakes up everyday looking to be offended.

asc85 on March 11, 2008 at 10:01 AM

Wow.

In related news, Ferraro’s still on the “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position…” kick.

Blue on blue. It’s a beautiful thing.

But we’re screwed in November.

Slublog on March 11, 2008 at 10:02 AM

EEEEEHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! THERE ARE RACISTS UNDER MY BED!!!
RRRRRUUUUUUUUUNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!

oldleprechaun on March 11, 2008 at 10:02 AM

Leftists on a witch hunt for racism? Say it ain’t so, AP!

Kafir on March 11, 2008 at 10:03 AM

Oh, for cryin’ out loud!

Bob's Kid on March 11, 2008 at 10:06 AM

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.

Or…they could have easily used stock images of someone who actually supports Obama for President.

Sometimes a sleeping child is not a racist.

James on March 11, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Now let Hillary steal the nomination. What poetic justice, if racial politics of the left turned against itself and shifted the black voting block for decades to come.

petefrt on March 11, 2008 at 10:09 AM

wow, that Harvard prof is one rascist SOB. Anyone else tired of having these intolerant people project their “issues” on the rest of us?

Wyrd on March 11, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Another example of someone who wakes up everyday looking to be offended.
asc85 on March 11, 2008 at 10:01 AM

Yep, Orlando could make a great spokesman as a Muslim. Ibrahim Hooper should try to get him to convert.

eeyore on March 11, 2008 at 10:14 AM

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery,

So naturally you see it everywhere. You get the feeling that a picture of Obama with the Statue of Liberty over his shoulder would be treated as showing a black man with a non black woman to rile up the ignorant a la the Harold Ford senate campaign?

trubble on March 11, 2008 at 10:15 AM

Staying in academia trains you to be able to write anything about anything. I’m surprised he didn’t work Freud in there somehow.

brak on March 11, 2008 at 10:15 AM

both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino

How does someone “seem vaguely Latino?”

I’m Offended!!!

terryannonline on March 11, 2008 at 10:18 AM

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery,

If you spend your life looking for bogeymen, you will see bogeymen everywhere. Heck, even Freud remarked that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

rbj on March 11, 2008 at 10:23 AM

Haha that’s truly awesome.

Why cant it be a white and black girl in the bed? And an asian girl and a hispanic girl? Why do you hate black people? Why?

So great. Hey let them pull this crap on Maverick. Hi2U backlash. (blacklash?)

Dash on March 11, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Being Blond is RACIST!

ronsfi on March 11, 2008 at 10:25 AM

If you need a Ph.D. in sociology and familiarity with a silent film most Americans have never seen to grasp the “real” meaning of a spot intended to sway a mass audience, might it be that the fatal subtext isn’t really there?

According to a couple of the Times commenters, you’re just insensitive to bigotry or it would be obvious. (How do these people manage to get dressed by themselves?)

Quisp on March 11, 2008 at 10:26 AM

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery…

And is it any wonder that, when you look at things, that’s what you see?

Tzetzes on March 11, 2008 at 10:28 AM

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.

Racist thy name is Orlando Patterson.

Racism has been the canard of this election year. I haven’t seen any real racism yet – just use of an emotionally fueled word to engender support from people that aren’t interested in seeing through it.

blankminde on March 11, 2008 at 10:30 AM

Proving once again that the Democratic nominating contest is the most racist election in living memory, perhaps the most racist in U.S. history. The entire contest is about race and ethnicity, except when it’s about genitals. BHO would’ve lost long ago if he wasn’t black. His supporters admit it. I’ve had people admit it to me. “I like him because he’s black.” To me this is point-blank racism. It’s racism in Obama’s favor but it’s racism nonetheless. The contest turns more racist everyday. Aside from policy issues, the dems deserve to lose just for running such a campaign. It’s a disgrace and an insult.

‘Content of character’, my @$$! This is all about the color of skin. George Wallace would be proud. Sad sad sad.

Vote Sauron 08 on March 11, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Gosh I hate the left. Their obsession with identity politics, ethnicity and collectivism has poisoned everything.

Baphomet on March 11, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Tzetzes on March 11, 2008 at 10:28 AM

Yep. Those polarized glasses have been afixed for a long time (without hope of removal), my brother.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on March 11, 2008 at 10:32 AM

If you need a Ph.D. in sociology and familiarity with a silent film most Americans have never seen to grasp the “real” meaning of a spot intended to sway a mass audience, might it be that the fatal subtext isn’t really there?

Sometimes you do, but not this time.

unclesmrgol on March 11, 2008 at 10:33 AM

Miscarriage of a Meme.

That’s the real headline.

This attack will have real tractionwith old film buffs.

Sounds more like:

Birth of the Blues“… for Barack.

profitsbeard on March 11, 2008 at 10:36 AM

This should certainly make you wonder about the value of a Harvard education.

TooTall on March 11, 2008 at 10:37 AM

I have a dream. That people will be judged by the content of their character and not by the character who dreams up the context.

Ordinary1 on March 11, 2008 at 10:37 AM

Can you imagine the articles such as this if Obama loses the nomination or the general? Holy cow….

Ashoura in America.

PattyJ on March 11, 2008 at 10:37 AM

That article tells us more about the writer than it does about the commercial.

irishspy on March 11, 2008 at 10:38 AM

And is it any wonder that, when you look at things, that’s what you see?

Tzetzes

If the only tool you’ve got is a hammer, the whole world looks an awful lot like a nail.

MMW on March 11, 2008 at 10:42 AM

Classic. Make Hillary prove it wasn’t racist. I guess the same rules might then apply to all black citizens voting for Obama, right? Why are they voting for him?

a capella on March 11, 2008 at 10:42 AM

I watched it again and again…
Man, I better find something racist here or I might have to get a real job….

christophercube on March 11, 2008 at 10:44 AM

I might say Hillary’s 3 AM commercial has very little to do with “Birth of a Nation” . . .

But right about now, if she felt the sudden urge to shout “Death Before Dishonor” and run off a cliff, I wouldn’t keep her from exercising her rights to do so.

52Ranger on March 11, 2008 at 10:44 AM

One shocking aspect of this is that this guy hangs out only with people that make healthy six figure salaries and think he makes sense: a widespread outbreak of stupidity and a system that rewards it.

snaggletoothie on March 11, 2008 at 10:47 AM

“Imputed Racism” – sounds like something some hackish worthless charlatan can winkle a lucrative career from.

LimeyGeek on March 11, 2008 at 10:50 AM

Sounds a little far fetched, even for a Clinton campaign. But if it turned out to be true, it would not be surprising at all considering the source. She is evil and it’s still early,who knows what kind of goo they’ll pull out of her bag in the months ahead. By the way, it was a creepy commercial, put out by a creepy candidate. Like someone said, if the phone did ring in a Hillary white house at 3am, the caller would probably ask for Bill.

scalleywag on March 11, 2008 at 10:57 AM

Still it is obvious that they are not black — both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino…

Um, isn’t that a racist statement in and of itself? What exactly makes someone “vaguely Latino”?

See, I can do it too – find racism in just about anything I want. Gee, does that mean I can be a Harvard professor and expound on innane bullshit and have everyone listen to me?

KrisinNE on March 11, 2008 at 10:57 AM

reverse racism is alive and well i see :(

OT: i would have sworn i just posted a response in regard to this ad with demographics as a reasoning?
guess its being being moderated or i hit a net hiccup?

trailortrash on March 11, 2008 at 10:59 AM

here’s another question: If this ad is so racist, why hasn’t Al Sharpton been all over the place screeching for an apology? If you see racism where Sharpton doesn’t, maybe, just maybe, it ain’t racist. That’s not to say that the Rev Al is the final arbitor of what’s racist, but does anyone think he’d pass up an opportunity to demagogue on national TV?

trubble on March 11, 2008 at 11:02 AM

KrisinNE on March 11, 2008 at 10:57 AM

Yeah, that’s what I thought when I read it. That’s one poorly worded sentence right there. You would think as a Harvard professor he could’ve written that much better.

terryannonline on March 11, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Pretty sure that he had a brainstorming session with M. Obama before writing this.

Mr Tips on March 11, 2008 at 11:04 AM

And to think there were/are naive dolts that thought Obama’s campaign was not about race.

It has always been about race. Very little else. Sprinkled with the pixie dust of Hope & Change.

LimeyGeek on March 11, 2008 at 11:10 AM

If you need a Ph.D. in sociology and familiarity with a silent film most Americans have never seen to grasp the “real” meaning of a spot intended to sway a mass audience, might it be that the fatal subtext isn’t really there?

Racist!

… it’s going to be a long campaign.

NeoconNews.com on March 11, 2008 at 11:16 AM

reminds of when Luke goes into the force cave on Degobah. He asks Yoda what is in the cave, and Yoda tells him “Only what you take with you.”

The left sees racism everywhere because they are projecting their beliefs on other people.

elBarto on March 11, 2008 at 11:16 AM

Pretty sure that he had a brainstorming session with M. Obama before writing this.

Mr Tips on March 11, 2008 at 11:04 AM

ahahah…zing!

scalleywag on March 11, 2008 at 11:17 AM

The left sees racism everywhere because they are projecting their beliefs on other people.

elBarto on March 11, 2008 at 11:16 AM

They claim to see racism everywhere because it’s a lucrative marketable skill to an especially stupid demographic.

LimeyGeek on March 11, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Hillary Clinton once picked her nose and said the word boogie.

John McCain owns a spade.

Rimshot.

profitsbeard on March 11, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Is the word “snigger” still acceptable?

LimeyGeek on March 11, 2008 at 11:23 AM

“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.

Maybe this fellow ought to step out of the ivory tower a bit and assess his timing on writing this kind of crap? It ain’t gonna play in North Carolina, Georgia, or Alabama this month.

funky chicken on March 11, 2008 at 11:28 AM

wow, that Harvard prof is one rascist SOB. Anyone else tired of having these intolerant people project their “issues” on the rest of us?

Wyrd on March 11, 2008 at 10:11 AM

Yes, very!

ihasurnominashun on March 11, 2008 at 11:33 AM

might it be that the fatal subtext isn’t really there?

NO WAY! You must be one of the racists it swayed!

/sarc (first time I’ve used the tag – even though I’m often sarcastic I’ve never felt it necessary, but then it came back to bite me later.)

OneGyT on March 11, 2008 at 11:44 AM

You have to be really well educated to come up with a statement that dumb

Defector01 on March 11, 2008 at 11:57 AM

A couple of years ago, on American Idol, the black contestants ended up in the “bottom three” one week and someone famous (I can’t remember who) called the voting “racist.” I have the same feelings for this guy as I had for that other bonehead.

Kafir on March 11, 2008 at 12:38 PM

A couple of years ago, on American Idol, the black contestants ended up in the “bottom three” one week and someone famous (I can’t remember who) called the voting “racist.” I have the same feelings for this guy as I had for that other bonehead.

Kafir on March 11, 2008 at 12:38 PM

I remember that too. That was Elton John.

asc85 on March 11, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Standard caution applies: If the left is this hot to play the race card on the wife of the “first black president,” nothing but nothing’s going to save Maverick from demagoguery 100 times as bad.

No kidding. How in the world can you campaign against something like that? What’s worse is that Obama isn’t even the one who’s playing the race card. Others gladly do it for him.

Esthier on March 11, 2008 at 1:04 PM

Wooooooooow………..

mattyj86 on March 11, 2008 at 1:04 PM

Or…they could have easily used stock images of someone who actually supports Obama for President.

Sometimes a sleeping child is not a racist.

James on March 11, 2008 at 10:06 AM

That’s funny, because the blonde at the beginning is an Obama supporter! Go figure…

Is the word “snigger” still acceptable?

LimeyGeek on March 11, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Only for MadTV commercials…remember when :

(Phil LaMarr or Orlando Jones pulled over for hours by cop played by I think it was Bryan Callen)
“Not going anywhere for awhile? Have a Sniggers!”

Miss_Anthrope on March 11, 2008 at 1:07 PM

If this fella would have done just a little bit of research, then, he’d have known that the film was shot YEARS ago.

What an idiot.

Pulchritudinous Patriot on March 11, 2008 at 1:32 PM

The use of a postmodern jargon generator will be very useful during this political discussion.
One example of the results for an academic study may be found here.
Of course, PC jargon requires its own generator. The computing power necessary for a postmodern PC jaron generator will require a new fix from Microsoft.

mkstach on March 11, 2008 at 1:41 PM

I sat through that movie for a class one time. Three plus hours of silent film. There’s mind numbingly boring, and then there’s Birth of a Nation boring.

That said, to compare the two is to demonstrate complete ineptitude in building similarities. I’d love to see this analysis graded in another Harvard prof’s class, submitted as a student’s work.

The film is anything but subtle. It pounds on for three hours of deafening silence, to the point that modern viewers who haven’t been groomed for the context would almost certainly assume it was parody. Griffiths wouldn’t use black actors, so the actors are in blackface. It’s utterly beyond any convention of film or television we are accustomed to today, and nobody has seen it.

On the other hand, to find a racial bias in the commercial is the very essence of subtlety. He’s teasing out nuanced messages from the very ether of racial hatred which apparently imbues everything ever created by a white person.

It is a laughable comparison, on so many levels. But he ought to be called to account for his facile misuse of analogy to make a point.

TexasDan on March 11, 2008 at 1:43 PM

That’s funny, because the blonde at the beginning is an Obama supporter! Go figure…

Miss_Anthrope on March 11, 2008 at 1:07 PM

It’s amazing how coincidences like that pop up, eh?

James on March 11, 2008 at 1:53 PM

Patterson’s other activities reveal the value of his contributions to this planet. Here’s a quote from his faculty bio at Harvard:

A public intellectual, Professor Patterson was, for eight years, Special Advisor for Social policy and development to Prime Minister Michael Manley of Jamaica.

Michael Manley was the socialist who destroyed Jamaica as a decent place to live and turned it into a Haiti-ish hell hole. As part of Manley’s development strategy, Manley suggested to the middle class that they could take planes to New York–which they did and that’s where they now live. Patterson is proud enough of his aiding the self-destruction of Jamaica and the elimination of its middle class that he lists it in his bio? This is worse than mentioning your experience as a prison guard at a slave labor camp on your resume.

thuja on March 11, 2008 at 1:57 PM

Guess the skin color of Mr Orlando.

pabarge on March 11, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Huh, I wonder if Michelle Hussein took any of this guy’s classes. Oh that’s right, she went to Princeton. Totally different Ivy League school. Nevermind.

Akzed on March 11, 2008 at 2:57 PM

Akzed on March 11, 2008 at 2:57 PM

Come on. You know that’s not actually his last name, right?

Esthier on March 11, 2008 at 3:46 PM

Being Blond is RACIST!

ronsfi on March 11, 2008 at 10:25 AM

But being Red is devine.

- The Cat

P.S. obligatory.

MirCat on March 11, 2008 at 8:20 PM