The race for governor in Virginia turned ugly long ago, with Republican Ed Gillespie mounting a number of racially pegged assaults on Democrat Ralph Northam.
A group supporting Northam, the Latino Victory Fund, fired back with this independently funded video. It took it off-line after heavy criticism, but anti-Northam forces have preserved it (thus the critical headline attached to the version I've shown here).
The minute-long ad posted on YouTube by the Latino Victory Fund shows a white man chasing children through a neighborhood in a pickup truck with a bumper sticker for Republican Ed Gillespie on its tailgate, a tea party license plate and a Confederate flag billowing behind. Just before the frightened-looking children are about to be run down against a fence, the ad cuts to the children jolting up in their beds.
"Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the American dream?," the narrator says as a television screen shows images of white supremacists marching with torches in Charlottesville this summer to protest the city's decision to seek the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
A child's nightmare spurred by real-life events. Dirty politics, say Republicans. It's become a national battle cry, echoing Donald Trump's adoption of the Confederacy and its symbols as a key political tactic.
Rep. Bob Ballinger, the ultra-right Republican from Arkansas who is seeking a Senate seat next year, is on board. He set up a howl on Twitter last night to pluck the heartstrings of the oppressed white folks in his district. He tweeted about the ad:
Is this what the left really thinks of the GOP? Is this what they think of people in the South?
When I engaged him, he added:
Ok, so you are confirming that the left believes the average Arkansas voter is a racist who would hunt down minority children, right?
I said no such thing.
My thoughts, some relayed to Ballinger: You have a party whose president described white supremacist marchers bearing torches as fine people. You have his chief of staff and press spokesman defending those who fought to preserve slavery and unapologetically lying about a black congresswoman from Florida. You have a party whose jackbooted immigration enforcers stopped a Latino child with cerebral palsy en route to a hospital for surgery. You have nursing students in Arkansas denied completion of their education. You have graduates of Arkansas high schools denied tuition preferences at Arkansas universities enjoyed by rich kids from Texas. You have countless pieces of discriminatory legislation, passed in Arkansas and elsewhere, aimed at minorities of all stripes — black, brown, religious (Sharia law anyone?), sexual minorities (the latter of particular note given Ballinger's long pursuit of legal discrimination against gay people). You've had actual incidents of black people harassed at a family picnic in another Southern state by people in a pickup truck with Confederate banners waving. You've had full-throated support from Republican politicians in Arkansas and elsewhere for mass deportation and for denial of constitutional birthright ctizenship to American-born children. I could go on. And on.
Official acts by Republicans in support of discrimination against minority groups are real. The ugliness spewed by people their policies have empowered is real. The uprooting of families is real. I don't speak for all on the left. Nor do I speak against the entire body of Republican voters or Southerners (synonymous with Republicans in Ballinger's eyes, apparently). But do I think it unfair to graphically depict in a video dream sequence the fear that exists among many minorities? Nah.
As i said to Ballinger on Twitter: Actions speak louder than words.