Monday, June 2, 2008

St. Joe Abandons Graves

Buchanan County / St. Joe - one of the 3 most populous counties in the 6th district -(the other two are Clay and Platte and all three voted for Sen. McCaskill, Auditor Montee and for stem cell research) is abandoning Congressman Graves.

The St. Joseph News ran a poll on Congressman Graves racist attacks on Mayor KAY (not Gay) Barnes. Here is the result:

Are Sam Graves' attack ads on Kay Barnes fair game? Response Percent

Yes. No one said politics was nice. 34%
No. The ads are shameless and misleading. 65%

The letters to the editor are also telling, like this one from the Rev. Chases Peoples:

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Graves should issue apology for imagery in attack ad

Sam Graves’ TV ad attacking Kay Barnes for “San Francisco values” may be off the air for the moment, but the racist and homophobic images used in it remain in our area’s consciousness. I have no objection to Graves attacking Barnes for having a fundraiser with Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco or for any other issue he may want to raise. I do, however, object strenuously to the way he went about it in this ad, which demeans people who are African-American and/or gay and lesbian.

The ad displays a picture of three people dancing and drinking — an African-American female, an African-American male and a Caucasian female — in what I guess is supposed to be stereotypical gay attire (although my gay friends rarely seem to wear mesh tank-top and cowboy hat combinations). While this image plays, the announcer mentions that “San Francisco values” include support for gay marriage and other stances. It seems fair to me for Graves to attack Barnes for her positions — whatever they may or may not be — but what I object to is the imagery.

Nothing that gets into political commercials is by accident, especially when it comes to people of minority ethnicity and/or sexual orientation. One needs only to think of the Willie Horton ad in 1988 or the ads run against Harold Ford Jr. in 2006 to realize that images of African-Americans in political ads are routinely used to arouse prejudice in white voters. The list of negative portrayals of gay and lesbian people in political ads is an even longer one. Graves’ ad falls right in line with this tradition of dehumanizing and stereotyping a minority to appeal to voters’ worst fears and biases.

I think it is fair to ask why the ad depicted not one, but two African-Americans in a manner that implies a hedonistic lifestyle. Why not an African-American, a Hispanic-American and a Caucasian-American? Why not three Caucasians? The inclusion of two African-Americans seems intended to provoke a certain kind of reaction in a majority white district. Furthermore, the evocation of the gay boogeyman also seems intended to incite prejudice in a district where most homosexuals by necessity must keep their orientations below the radar. It’s not a new tactic, but an old one: play to the majority’s fears about the minority. Unfortunately, we have too many examples of that kind of tactic not only helping win political races, but also reinforcing systemic prejudice.

I call upon Sam Graves to apologize for the imagery used in the ad, and I hope that people in Northwest Missouri of every political party will reject the dehumanization of minorities for political gain.

The Rev. Chase Peeples,
St. Joseph

People are sick of the Graves/Roe/Bush/Rove attack machine. They are sick of congressmen who take money from oil companies and then vote them tax breaks for exploring for oil. Graves' nastiness does not breed loyalty; just ask Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo) who can't distance himself from Graves fast enough.