Presenting The Baitys

Our awards for the most egregiously race-baiting campaign ads of the year

Topics: 2010 Elections, War Room, David Vitter, Harry Reid, Immigration, Immigration Reform, Islam, Park51, Race, Sharron Angle,

Presenting The Baitys

Are you scared of gang-banging Mexican illegals? Islamic sleeper cell jihadists? Chinese people? Then this was the election cycle for you! From the primaries through the week before election day, America’s been blanketed with race-baiting political campaign ads from insufficiently guarded border to shining sea. Today’s the day when those countless hours spent by soulless political consultants poring over stock images of young Latino men looking for the shot that screams “about to kidnap your daughter” pays off. (Election day, historically, is also that day.) We’re proud to present the first annual Salon Baity Awards for Excellence in the Field of Race-baiting.

(There will be no live ceremony, so we ask you to please just imagine that the winners in each category were introduced by an oddly mismatched couple of celebrities, like Katherine Heigl and Pau Gasol.)

Best Attempt at Convincing People That Mexican Immigrants Are Drug-running Cartel Assassins

First up, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman wins an honorary Baity for putting the border fence in her ads, then lying about it, then running a Spanish-language ad claiming that she’s against the Arizona immigration law.

Our next Baity winner is one-time victim of a race-baiting whisper campaign John McCain. Senator McCain once honorably refused to support the flying of the Confederate flag. Then, ten years ago, he folded on that issue for reasons of political expediency, so I’m not sure why everyone is being such a baby about him folding on everything else he ever pretended to believe in. This ad is shameless primarily because John McCain was once a major supporter of comprehensive immigration reform (a.k.a. “shamnesty”) — but once he ended up in a primary campaign against a more conservative challenger, McCain decided remaining in the Senate was more important than standing up for the rights of immigrants. So: Complete the danged fence!



Next up: Nevada’s Sharron Angle, who just may defeat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, despite the fact that basically everyone acknowledges that she’s crazy. Angle shot out to an early lead with her “Thanks, Pal” ad explaining how much Harry Reid loves Mexicans, who are scary.

The original ad was scrubbed from YouTube after a copyright complaint by a Reuters photographer, but you can see it at the beginning of this clip from The Young Turks. You’ll note that happy, white college graduates are compared to young Latino men in backwards baseball caps. Reid wants to give the Mexican ones in-state college tuition, which is for some reason horrible, because we must never allow immigrants to go to college.

Angle quickly released another incredibly similar ad without the offending stock shot:

And another:

This ad — titled “At Your Expense” — explains that Reid “sides with Mexico” when it comes to immigration. (Mexico doesn’t want all those horrible Mexicans in it!)

While it looks like Angle is running away with the category, Louisiana’s David Vitter — incumbent Senator from a state that does not border on Mexico — has some anti-Hispanic fearmongering of his own to dish out. Vitter’s “Welcome Prize” is practically an insane piece of art, with its own Lynchian dream-logic.

Apparently Vitter’s opponent, Democrat Charlie Melancon, hires welcoming committees — with fireworks and brass bands! — to meet illegal immigrants at well-marked holes in the chain-link fence that protects us from Mexico (which, again, Louisiana does not share a border with).

But this, friends, was not the end of it.

Sharron Angle’s latest and greatest ad — our overall Baity winner in this category –squeezes more anti-Latino imagery and immigration fear-mongering into 30 seconds than you ever thought possible:

The professional announcer can barely keep up with the hateful script!

(This is the ad that made Joy Behar resort to name-calling, which was news, for some reason.)

Best Scaremongering About the “Ground Zero Mosque” by a Performer From Nowhere Near New York City

The fact that an Imam intends to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan became national news this summer, because Republicans are scared of Muslims. Our own Justin Elliott already rounded up the best anti-”Ground Zero Mosque” ads of the year to date. Who can forget this classic from a North Carolina candidate?

There’s this weird one from Ohio Republican Josh Mandel, which suggest that his Christian opponent attends a mosque:

The American Future Fund attacked Iowa Democrat Bruce Braley for considering the Cordoba House project to be a Manhattan-area zoning issue instead of a fundamental assault on our values:

Best Attempt to Make Everyone Afraid of New York City’s Hundreds of Thousands of Muslim Residents by a Local Politician

While a national Republcan group gained attention for trying and failing to air a brutal anti-Muslim ad featuring footage of 9/11 in New York TV markets, this category belongs to Buffalo-area developer and America’s angriest gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. Paladino won an upset primary victory over longtime loser Rick Lazio thanks in part to being even more against the mosque project than his anti-mosque opponent. Paladino promised to blatantly violate the constitution and use the power of the government to block the construction of a religious building, because of The Terror:

Congratulations on your Baity, Carl! Go celebrate with your many Muslim friends.

Best Ad Intended to Make People Resent Asians, For Some Reason

A Chamber of Commerce-linked group called “Americans for Job Security” aired this ad, featuring Indian people thanking Blanche Lincoln primary challenger Bill Halter for sending them all of America’s jobs.

This commercial from Spike Maynard, challenging Nick Rahall in West Virginia, explains that Representative Rahall is made in China, like our horrible bluejeans. There is also some really classy “Asian” music.

Nick Rahall wants to give your toy-making job to a Chinese person, who will give your children lead poisoning.

Rahall is also the victim of ads worthy of Baitys in the all-purpose anti-Arab category.

Rahall’s opponents want you to know that he’s Lebanese. Which means he loves Hamas! And he wants to “mobilize” Arab Americans!

Terrifying!

Craziest All-Around Race-baiting

I’m not sure why anyone thought this would work, but an anti-Harry Reid group sponsored a Spanish-language ad instructing Hispanic voters to stay home, because Democrats didn’t tackle immigration this year:

The ad, of course, was produced by a Republican who opposes Democratic proposals for immigration reform.

The message of these ads from a GOP congressional primary loser in Florida — featuring a literal “towelhead” — is that people with dark complexions are probably trying to blow up airplanes.

Then there was Tim James, the Alabama gubernatorial candidate who was sick and tired of people not constantly speaking English everywhere in his state at all times.

Finally, fringe Missouri candidate Glenn Miller receives a special Baity for Old-Timey Racism, for his Kansas City radio ads urging white people to “take our country back” from the Jews, and not, as today’s Republicans generally put it, the Muslim Socialists.

Willie Horton Lifetime Achievement Award for Exceptional Race-baiting

Former Roger Ailes aide Larry McCarthy was the man behind 1998′s “Willie Horton” ad, the harrowing tale of how Michael Dukakis allowed a black murderer to get out of jail for a weekend of rape and murder. (A sign of McCarthy’s brilliance: Horton went by “William.” No one called him “Willie” until McCarthy decided it sounded blacker.) That brilliant piece of fear-mongering about a furlough program started under a Republican governor helped George H. W. Bush win the presidency. The lifetime achievement award is named in Horton’s honor, but presented to the ad that most embodies the spirit of Larry McCarthy.

And, look at that, McCarthy is this year’s winner! McCarthy is the man behind that anti-Mosque ad attacking a random Iowa Democrat! The ad was one of the most shameless of the entire anti-Mosque campaign, cheerfully lying about Imam Abdul Rauf and assigning collective blame for 9/11 to the world’s billion Muslims.

But McCarthy wasn’t done. This month, McCarthy produced an ad for “Citizens Against Government Waste” designed solely to make Americans resent smug Chinese people, who will own us in 20 years if Barack Obama continues spending government money on infrastructure projects.

The “Chinese Professor” ad is a brilliant return to form for the horrible mastermind behind the original race-baiting campaign ad. We hope Larry McCarthy’s Baity helps fill the hole where his soul is supposed to be.

Congratulations to all our Baity winners! But they better not get too comfortable — 2012 is just around the corner, and I have a feeling that it will be filled with grotesque images of the darkest recesses of the resentful White American psyche.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>