Notwithstanding the claims advanced by many liberals (and initially believed by a few conservatives) that a Barack Obama presidency would be the first instance of "post-racial" governance in American history, President Obama's term in office has proved the opposite to be true. Not only is this White House not post-racial, but its supporters have been singularly race-obsessed since before President Obama took office, describing everything from accusations of "socialism" to campaign ads showing Obama next to Paris Hilton as closeted racism.
So in some sense, it's a relief that NYU professors Charlton McIlwain and Stephen Caliendo decided to finally release a five point litmus test that they believe allows a hypothetical ad watcher to determine whether a pro-Romney ad (pro-Obama ads are excluded for unclear reasons) is racist. So for those of you who are curious as to how one can tell whether an attack on President Obama is racist, according to those who claim to know, read on.
Apparently, the litmus test boils down to asking the following set of five questions about any given ad:
1. Does the ad reference racial stereotypes?[...]
2. Does the ad show Obama's image alongside a racial stereotype?[...]
3. Are all the people surrounding Romney white?[...]
4. Does the ad create an 'us' vs 'them' racial contrast?[...]
5. Is the audience where the ad runs mostly white?
Now, tempting though it may be to demonstrate every single logical issue with these prongs, it is unnecessary, given that the two authors actually self-refute while explaining their fifth prong. Indeed, astute readers probably noticed a problem with that standard right out the gate - namely, that an ad can be racist in one place, but not in another. McIlwain and Caliendo openly admit this, but in the process of explaining how this isn't absurd, they include a post-script that will strike many as deliciously ironic (emphasis added):
Determining the audience for an ad run in presidential contests can be complicated (we rarely know where an ad is being run). But were the ad mentioned earlier (“we good and decent Americas”) aired in a place like Iowa, “us” in the ad could likely be interpreted by viewers – consciously or not – as “whites” in a racial context, given that the vast majority of the population there is white.[...]
Thus, while airing an ad for a majority white audience does not guarantee voters will be seduced by a potentially racist message, their being white makes that more likely.
So let's review: An ad against President Obama is racist if, according to the first prong, it "references racial stereotypes." So what exactly is an article that explicitly claims whites are more likely to be racist - that argument itself being a racial stereotype? Caliendo and McIlwain may want to consider a change of scenery if they want to throw stones - glass houses are poor real estate for that variety of behavior.