(The New Republic) – There is good reason to be skeptical about Hillary Clinton and race. It’s never been anything explicit, necessarily, but she has sinned in the realm of signification, the place where innuendo and plausible deniability live. Let us start with her first presidential campaign in 2008, and the infamous “3 a.m. phone call” television ad that so spooked folks in the nation’s white hinterland. “It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep,” a concerned narrator intoned. “Who do you want answering the phone?”
On the surface, there was nothing especially racially troubling about an advertisement that said the nation’s first female commander in chief had the chops and bravura to answer the call. But to seasoned observers of racial coding, myself included, the image of innocent sleeping children and a nervously attentive mother evoked an uglier racial epoch. “I couldn’t help but think of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation … with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society,” Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson wrote in The New York Times. “The person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.”
Then there was the time that Clinton, having lost the 2008 primary in North Carolina, pointed out that “Obama’s support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans”—my emphasis—“is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.” When pressed about the racial undertones of her comments, Clinton was defiant. “These are the people you have to win if you’re a Democrat. … Everybody knows that.” Read the full story at The New Republic.