The 3:00 am video that begat the Birtherism that begat Rupert Murdoch’s #RealBlack #racist drivel | Blog#42

Reading about Rupert Murdoch and Piers Morgan’s racist tweets got me thinking, for the nth time, about how the birther movement got its start. So I went back and reread a 2008 New York Times op-ed by Orlando Patterson, The Red Phone In Black and White.

Watching the 3 AM campaign ad a few years later, the racial dog whistles are still there and Patterson is still absolutely correct.

“I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.”

This specific type of delegitimization is well-known in academic circles, where the academic rigor of professors of color is routinely subjected to added scrutiny or dismissed outright, just because they are not white and their scholarly viewpoint isn’t Eurocentric. That kind of treatment isn’t restricted to academic circles. It extends to every area of life, from the car mechanic to the doctor’s office, on to the schoolhouse and everywhere in between.

America has learned more about the many ways in which racism, conscious and subconscious, is expressed in this country. It’s bad enough that our nation’s discourse has devolved to gutter-level discourse when it comes to race, but to have foreigners such as Rupert Murdoch and his former employee tweeting like this?

This is just one more of those things that the road to hell is paved with. When, oh, when, will any of our white privileged leaders show some leadership and own the messes they’ve made. If Hillary Clinton wants a chance to clean up the deeply hurtful and deadly messes of mass-incarceration, over-policing that has led to these brutality levels, trade, banking, and welfare reform, she had better do better than she did here when put on the spot:

Did Bill and Hillary Clinton cause Rupert and Piers’ racism? Did Bill and Hillary cause the racism of every Republican leader expresses daily? Not in the least! What she has done with that 3:00 am video, however, is blast open the dam to the kind of talk racists feel free to engage in today.

How much do I blame the Clintons for the sorry state of affairs America is in today? There is quite a bit of history sandwiched just in between the first and second videos in this post. We all need to take some time to reflect upon their significance.


Mr. Murdoch first explained the reason for his slur:

and follows up with a kind of apology

I used “a kind of apology” because it is the same as the American “I’m sorry if I offended,” which we all know is a non-apology.

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