Monday, July 07, 2008

Jesse Helms and Alex Castellanos

The death of Sen. Jesse Helms on July 4 opened up lots of ideological brickbats in the blogosphere, but to me none more objectionable than Andrew Sullivan's here.

Sullivan draws the conclusion that because Alex Castellanos was the architect behind the famous "hands" ad, he is therefore a racist. He also says "no one" ever calls Castellanos on it.

Well. Interestingly, Sullivan actually is on the same side as Alex Castellanos when it comes to affirmative action. It's not hard to find this out, such as here, where Sullivan actually links affirmative action to "racial discrimination." And if affirmative action is "racial discrimination," isn't racial quotas (the subject of the "hands" ad) an even worse manifestation of said discrimination?

Of course the ad isn't the only reflection of Sen. Helms' views on racial matters. In fact, there is much to lament about his views on civil rights.

But just as Andrew Sullivan's views on affirmative action do not make him a racist, neither does the "hands" ad and its tough portrayal of racial quotas make a racist of Alex Castellanos, a man whose father came to this country from Cuba with his wife and two children and just $11 in his pocket.

I used to work for Alex. I didn't do any political ad work for him, and what I did do wasn't all that great obviously because I wasn't there very long. Maybe this makes me somewhat objective. I can say for certain two things about what Sullivan wrote: Perhaps least importantly, he's wrong that Alex is never questioned about the ad. To paraphrase John McCain, if Sullivan would just do "a Google," he probably find plenty of efforts to force Alex to defend his ad. Here's one. Here's another that criticizes the ad. Alex will always have to deal with this ad.

But more importantly, Alex Castellanos is no racist. When you oppose a candidate whose campaign is a historic achievement (Harvey Ganntt,Barack Obama), your odds of being called a racist go up dramatically, regardless of the facts. And I was just talking about that earlier.



Blogger Curt Anderson said...

Andrew Sullivan's comments about Alex Castellanos are ignorant and most stuff he writes.

12:21 AM  

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