Preposterous Universe

Friday, March 12, 2004
Bush ads

Ever since Homicide went off the air, my TV viewing is largely limited to NBA games, Queer Eye, and occasionally the Iron Chef. So I don't get to see a lot of the new campaign ads. Blogosphere to the rescue, however, as we can easily dissect every new ad without ever reaching for the TV remote.

The latest Bush ad takes a step that nobody should find surprising, but some find upsetting: using an image of an olive-skinned, vaguely Arabic-looking man to symbolize the threat of terrorism. (The ad is discussed, with screenshots, by Ryan Lizza at TNR and Billmon at Whiskey Bar.)

Bush supporters can say (and already are saying, e.g. at Little Green Footballs) that this is no big deal -- after all, the Sept. 11 terrorists were olive-skinned Arabs. This is a true statement, just as it is true to say that the DC snipers were African-American, or that Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, and Jack the Ripper were all Caucasian. Under the hypothesis that all statements of fact are equally appropriate, I suppose there's nothing more to say. But this is a blatantly racist appeal: Bush will protect us from the scary Arabs. Not only is it repulsive, it's also not a sensible long-term strategy for fighting terrorism (which comes in all colors, as folks in Ulster will tell you). But who knows, maybe it will work as a campaign theme.

Atrios points to this post from Poor Man, reconstructing the ad the Bush campaign would really like to have made, if the liberal media would let them get away with it.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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