Fear Tactics, Shmear Tactics

One Politician’s Unfair Play on Fear and Racism


Hillary speaks to supporters, using what some deem to be the same fear tactics used by Republicans. (Jason Arthurs /MCT)

Published: April 3, 2008

For someone professing to be running primarily on experience, Hillary Clinton and her campaign seem to be forced to rely heavily on the base fears of the American people. Especially recently, questionable material originating from the Clinton campaign has emerged: a photograph showing Barack Obama dressed in traditional Somali elder garb, a hoax email “exposing” Obama as a Muslim and debate footage showing Obama with significantly darkened skin. We all know Obama is black and some digging should assure any uncertain parties of Obama’s decidedly non-Muslim background. Although Obama’s biological father was a Muslim, he was not involved in his son’s upbringing. Senator Obama was, in fact, raised non-religious and is currently a practicing Christian. Still, would anyone care if he were a Muslim? Apparently not, as regardless of the fear tactics, Obama is in the lead. What does Clinton’s concern with Obama’s ethno-religious background say about her character, albeit as a politician?

Materials like the ones mentioned only successfully accuse Obama of being black and Muslim. Other materials have accused Obama of being inexperienced, which is certainly relevant to the election. But for the Clinton campaign to consider Obama’s ethno-religious background to be relevant to the election is shameful at best. I’m personally insulted that I am assumed to be bigoted enough to let information like this lessen my opinion of Obama.

In response to the photograph depicting him in traditional Somali elder clothing, Obama admonished Senator Clinton and compared the move to typical Republican behavior. The Senator seemed to be referring to the popular right-wing tactic of highlighting his middle name: Hussein. In spite of that, Obama is at fault for implying that racism and bigotry are common and expected of, and even limited to, Republicans. Based on Clinton’s actions, this is clearly not the case.

While the Clinton Campaign has never denied that the photograph originated from their staffers, it has responded that it is not the photograph but Obama’s reaction that is shameful. By responding negatively, Obama suggests that there’s something to be afraid of, and, well, that’s just racism! Well played, I must say. It’s true that Obama only gives credit to a photograph like the one in question by responding to it. Although a response like this certainly shifts the focus back to Obama, there is still a question as to why the Clinton campaign would release this photo, especially if they see nothing wrong with it and even view it positively.

There is no other explanation for this behavior except to say that Clinton has achieved total and complete desperation. Faced with the mathematical impossibility of a nomination on her part, she has resorted to the lowest of the low: smearing her competitor with anything she can get her hands on (as proof that Obama is more ambitious than he claims to be, Clinton cited his kindergarten essay, which declared his dream to be president one day). Clinton is hoping and praying that Americans will be fearful and bigoted enough to have a change of heart after seeing a darker Obama, hearing confirmation that Obama is Muslim, or seeing a photo that evokes painful memories of the terrorist Osama Bin Laden. In the aftermath of 9/11, tactics like these are the furthest thing from a clean campaign, since Americans seem to be especially sensitive to images they have been taught to associate with terrorism and 9/11.

Recently, the focus has been shifted towards Obama and his relationship with the Reverend Wright, his overtly racist pastor. Rather than putting emphasis on Clinton and her campaign, who have definitely behaved in a racist way, the focus has instead been unfairly placed on Obama, who has not behaved in a racist way, but who has maintained a relationship with the pastor of the church in which he was married and in which his children were baptized. This is the last straw. It’s time we all take a look at Hillary Clinton and her shameful fear tactics and blatant racism. She has spent enough time evading consequences. Hopefully, she won’t get away with it much longer. In the land of opportunity, race should not be the thing that keeps Barack Obama out of office.