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August 06, 2009

WaPo Staff Writer Is Clearly A Racist

How else to explain the conclusion that when Philip Kennicott sees the "'urban' makeup of the Heath Ledger Joker", he automatically thinks "black" "deformed product of urban violence." No, really, and it gets ugly:

By using the "urban" makeup of the Heath Ledger Joker, instead of the urbane makeup of the Jack Nicholson character, the poster connects Obama to something many of his detractors fear but can't openly discuss. He is black and he is identified with the inner city, a source of political instability in the 1960s and '70s, and a lingering bogeyman in political consciousness despite falling crime rates.

The Joker's makeup in "Dark Knight" -- the latest film in a long franchise that dramatizes fear of the urban world -- emphasized the wounded nature of the villain, the sense that he was both a product and source of violence. Although Ledger was white, and the Joker is white, this equation of the wounded and the wounding mirrors basic racial typology in America. Urban blacks -- the thinking goes -- don't just live in dangerous neighborhoods, they carry that danger with them like a virus. Scientific studies, which demonstrate the social consequences of living in neighborhoods with high rates of crime, get processed and misinterpreted in the popular unconscious, underscoring the idea. Violence breeds violence.

Oh, but Kennicott's quick to reassure that he doesn't believe blacks carry the violence within them (like...in their blood? I told you this was ugly.). Rather, he claims that is what "a certain sort" think when they see the Joker. ...And why a certain sort fear the Joker. And why a certain sort fear Obama in Joker makeup. Or something.

He's just stretching to reach the same old refrain, repeated to the point of "oh, who cares anymore": the Obama as Joker poster is racist and so is anyone who appreciates it. Oh, but it's "subtly coded", which, I suppose, is why it took racialist Kennicott almost a thousand words to decode it for us.

Now we know.

As if we needed any more evidence that Kennicott is a drooling idiot, look no further than his analysis of the other element of the poster:

The new Obama poster has two basic thrusts. Obama is a socialist, or a crypto-socialist. And Obama is somehow like the Joker, unpredictable and dangerous. But joining these two messages together yields more questions and contradictions than good poster art can sustain. The Joker is violent and dangerous, but a socialist? And didn't we see George W. Bush depicted as the Joker not so long ago?

Yes, in an image by Drew Friedman published online by Vanity Fair on July 29, 2008. That drawing at least played into a view of Bush popular among his detractors, that the former president was unpredictable and fast on the draw when it came to geopolitics. But the danger many of Obama's detractors detect is more of calculating, long-standing deception, that he is quietly and secretly marshaling a socialist agenda, a view that would be better served by imagery that recalled "The Manchurian Candidate."

What's this about "quiet, secret socialism"? President Obama is CEO of Government Motors. He's the Champion of Single-Payer Healthcare and the Scourge of Wall Street. And it's not like this is new. Back in 2001 he lamented that the Supreme Court had never approved of broad wealth redistribution. What planet is Kennicott living on where Obama is secretly working on a socialist agenda?

My advice to Phil Kennicott is to take his shamefully ignorant self off to a corner and sit quietly while people less apt to trip over "coded" racism every time they step out their front doors get on with discussing reality. He's just embarrassing himself.

Via Sean M.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:59 AM

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