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The Blasting Legacy of Negative Political Ads
By Yussuf Simmonds (Managing Editor)
Published August 20, 2008

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is one of many who has been targeted by the party of Lincoln

Controversial ads, cartoons and depictions have always seemed to pop up throughout the country during the voting season and some of them are subtly subliminal and some are overtly racist. Presidential candidate Barack Obama wearing a "terror-esque" ensemble along with wife Michelle in militant gear on the cover of New Yorker magazine recently is one example. Another New Yorker cover featuring Obama in bed with fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton is another. They have been called controversial, distasteful and despicable yet they are used as standards, and have eased into the nation's consciousness.

Members of Obama's camp had called the drawings "tasteless and offensive and the NAACP board passed a resolution condemning the drawings as "tasteless and 'Islamaphobic.'"

The New Yorker's editor in chief, David Remnick defended the cover, saying it was actually satirizing "the vicious and racist attacks and rumors and misconceptions about the Obamas that have been floating around in the blogosphere and are reflected in public opinion polls."

"What we set out to do was to throw all these images together, which are all over the top and to shine a kind of harsh light on them, to satirize them. That's part of what we do," he told reporters at ABC News.

But, said one blogger in the wake of the cartoon controversy, "presumably the New Yorker readership is sophisticated enough to get the joke, but still: this is going to upset a lot of people, probably for the same reason it's going to delight a lot of other people, namely those on the right: Because it's got all the scare tactics and misinformation that has so far been used to derail Barack Obama's campaign – all in one handy illustration. Anyone who's tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who's tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism- well, here's your image…"

Yussuf J. Simmonds is Sentinel Assistant Managing Editor


Categories: Op-Ed

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