RANGER AGAINST WAR: The Problem is The Problem <

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Problem is The Problem

 --Leader Goldstein in the film 1984

I believe the children are our future.
Unless we stop them now
--Homer Simpson

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think
there is no place for the edgy and fucked up Rihanna
or Prostitute Barbie, Nicki Minaj.
I just fear, that’s all we ever get anymore
--Conversate is Not a Word

I feel good not understanding
--There Are No Children Here,
Alex Kotlowitz

Let us deconstruct another Clinton campaign commercial, using the same image as we discussed in our  2 AUG post ("Dirty Bad Words"). It is in the vein of past favorites like Willie Horton, Howard Dean's too-enthusiastic yawp, and McCain's dismissal as a war-damaged loose canon.

The American loves drama and scare-mongering; rationality is not his strong point.

The piece again shows Mr. Trump declaiming about some gruesome bloody scene. Whatever it is that has Mr. Trump so agitated, we can assume he is not happy with the scene he is describing and is not celebrating the gore. 

Could Mr. Trump be talking about the victim of gang violence, or police brutality? Of a drone strike? Or a random shooting, stabbing or bombing by a disaffected member of the Islamic faith?

Perhaps, the perpetrator of the violence was neither disaffected nor Islamic, but in fact well integrated into his culture. Perhaps the violence was perpetrated by a respected state actor, like the United States. 

If the bleeding woman came to be such by the latter scenario, one may say that President Obama and Mrs. Clinton have her blood on their hands, not Mr. Trump. If so, this advert is a grand, nonsensical display of projection.

However, not knowing the context for Trump's words, one could presume that it is a good thing that he is upset by the violent scene he describes, and that he would not want that to be the future for any child.

A blood red filter then saturates Trump's visage a la Orwell's 1984, and we have a camera cut to a young black girl sitting alone in a dark room facing the t.v. glow, presumably staring at this scary man. The implicit message is, Grandma Clinton wants to keep your children safe from this wild white man, who obviously wants to scare young black children.

What the ad does not state, however, is how Mrs. Clinton would solve whatever problem is being depicted (an unknown.) Because of the ambiguity, the ad is a fail. 

First, if the young girl is alone in a dark and barren room watching t.v. during an hour when campaign debates air, she is already lost. The television will bring multitudinous vicious and violent images within any given hour to scare anyone. Start with real images like war, bloody cafe scenes, and then move on to the ubiquitous ersatz ones which are so highly produced as to out-gore any reality.

As Alex Kotlowitz wrote in his seminal study, There are No Children Here, children like this girl  have seen a lifetime of violence by the time they are teenagers. If this young girl is sitting in a dark and barren room alone, where are her parents or guardians?

Books like Ghettoland and films like "The Interrupters" give a fair representation of the dire situations in which so many children live. (The blog HotGhettoMess written by a Washington, D.C. attorney also gives a good feel for the reality.)

This girl has probably also been exposed to violence and misogyny in music, say, something by the rapper Jay-Z, which occupies a place on our President's playlist. The rappers explain that they are not celebrating violence, but merely documenting its reality. If so, then Mrs. Clinton would do well to listen to THAT reality. 

In stark contrast to that partiular hell, Mrs. Clinton's daughter Chelsea and President Oama's daughters have attended the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Bethesda, where presumably they are taught to analyze media messages.

Contrast this to the little black girl in Mrs. Clinton's ad who may have been the recipient of various government initiatives like Head Start, but who presumably will be like the much too many who spend countless hours every day staring at the screen, any screen, growing ever more estranged from, indifferent to or radicalized toward their fellows, depending upon the source of the feed.

No one is shielding the girl in the ad from the ugly violence of the world, violence about which it is appropriate for adults to discuss. What the ad does not discuss is the ACTUAL issue: child abandonment.  But that issue cannot be so easily dispensed with by a brief and massively expensive campaign ad.

Mrs. Clinton lacks the cachet of her husband, and cannot claim to feel this child's pain with any sincerity. The isolated child is merely a prop for Mrs. Clinton's set piece.

The upshot: Mr. Trump's discussion of the violence is not the problem -- the problem (violence) is the problem. A young girl alone in the dark watching adult subject matter is the problem.

50+ years after Civil Rights movement, race relations continue to fray. Mrs. Clinton could do us all a service by addressing this girl's needs. One in five black men are in prison at any given time, and race relations have grown only more tense during President Obama's administration.

Representative Robert Dole -- himself once the target of ugly smears based on his stiff demeanor (which none of his detractors said was due to his dire war injuries resulting in an immobile arm) -- has advised Trump to tone down his rhetoric.

Actually, that is the last thing Mr. Trump should do. The people have spoken. They are tired of being pandered to with bromides that change with the audience and the days of the week.

At long last, Madam, have you no shame?

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Blogger Nasreen Iqbal said...

I saw someone on tv a few weeks back say, "Given the choice between someone they fear and someone they dislike, American voters tend to vote for the person they dislike."

The support for this proposition was mostly the 1964 race, but 1968 and 1988 was mentioned as well.

The problem with using that for 2016 is, I think, that I'm not sure which candidate to fear and which one to dislike.

Thursday, August 4, 2016 at 8:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One meme floating around lately is that Clinton is such a weak candidate that IF ONLY the Rs had nominated one of the others, winning this election would be a snap. Stupid! Clearly The People are, as you say, sick and tired of same old.

Clinton's only ammunition against Trump is that "he's crazy" - why is he crazy? Apparently because he is different and calls BS on the "normal" just as you/we do.

At the end of the day, this election will decided on the grounds of whether or not SNAFU is considered psychologically safer than embarking on a journey into the new.

Anyhow, you guys have been on fire lately! Great writing/great insights. Please continue.


Friday, August 5, 2016 at 8:44:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

You say: "Could Mr. Trump be talking about the victim of gang violence, or police brutality? Of a drone strike? Or a random shooting, stabbing or bombing by a disaffected member of the Islamic faith?"

No, he was talking about my favorite FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly. After one of the early Republican primary debates hosted by FOX News Trump said that Megyn had blood coming out of her eyes when she aggressively questioned him during the debate.

"She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions," Trump said in a later interview. "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base."

He must have got scolded by his children, probably Ivanka, because after a day or so Trump tweeted that he was referring to Kelly's nose. His campaign also issued a statement, claiming Trump said "whatever" instead of "wherever," while again repeating that the reference was to her nose.)

Somehow I seriously doubt he was talking about her nose. Or is my brain in the gutter???

Friday, August 5, 2016 at 11:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


You pose a good question. ISTM, we can fear Mrs. Clinton based on her track record. Mr. Trump has no such legacy, and the press has merely served to depict him as unlikable.


Again, thanks. I have been silent for the last year on matters election, but I can muzzle myself no longer. What amazes me is how readily most people fall in line with the rhetoric their side feeds them. I guess parroting is easier than thinking.


With all due respect, why should this statement even matter to us? This does not help us to understand either candidate's position on any topic that matters. It's meaningless piffle, and now that you've told me from whence it originates, I am triply amazed that was the BEST Clinton could find to excoriate her opponent?!?

Low times, these.

Friday, August 5, 2016 at 4:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Low times indeed! And you are right on regarding candidate's positions. Which is why Trump got angry at the lovely Megyn: she was trying to get him to state his positions. But he only wanted to talk 'meaningless piffle' about the other candidates.

Saturday, August 6, 2016 at 9:21:00 AM GMT-5  

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