Image courtesy of Burnt Orange Report.
The ad Texas Aggie Conservatives used to promote their organization.
The Texas Aggie Conservatives are being accused of releasing a racist advertisement targeting President Barack Obama.
Texas A&M University’s student conservative group are in hot water after the appearance of a computer PSA screensaver depicting President Barack Obama as a little boy was seen by an Evans Library staffer on June 14.
At Texas A&M all student organizations are allowed to posts ads on the library’s computers as screensavers. Texas Aggie Conservatives released their ad that showed Obama as a young boy wearing baggy clothing and reading: “Think he needs a time out?”
The ad was viewed as distasteful and out of line with the university’s values. The ad was reported to the Vice President of Diversity and the Dean of Libraries. Soon thereafter, Vice President of Information Technology Pierce Cantrell announced the shutdown of the entire PSA service because guidelines were not being enforced.
Three weeks after the announcement was made, the ad had still not been removed from the library’s computers. Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Sarah Bednarz said the damaged had already been done.
“This seems to me too little too late,” she said. “All summer thousands of current students, new students and their parents have seen this PSA which is not consistent with Aggie values.”
Burnt Orange Report stated the ad was wrong for many reasons. The ad depicted Obama as a “boy” who needs a time out. The president is shown as a black “street kid” who must be shown his place and the ad demeans the president with hateful rhetoric.
“The ad is part of a long string of attempts on the part of conservatives to diminish Obama, and in the process, diminish the presidency,” Eric Tang said, who is an assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at UT.
Tang said the ad does not add anything politically and does not spark any debate. They are not just trying to critique the president, but trying to make him out to be a child. Tang commends Texas A&M for acting responsibly.
“You have to realize racism is always about knowledge, not about ignorance,” Tang said. “In order to be an effective racist, you have to know what you are doing.”
TAC’s decision to release the ad was not based on fact, but on assumptions. Spokespeople for TAC were unavailable for comment. Tang views the ad as amateurish even by the standards of today’s conservative and racist political cartoons.
“One of the things this ad misses is that the attempt to make Obama some ‘young ghetto thug’ does not work because for one reason or another he seems to invade that kind of stereotype,” Tang said. “Partly it’s the Harvard education, partly it’s the fact he is not African American, but an African immigrant. I think [TAC] haven’t done their homework.”
Tang points out even though there is certainly racist intent behind the cartoon, the impact is not necessarily the effect the student group would have hoped for.
“There is a way in which the racism against Obama is more effective. The one that tries to make him out to be this foreign, alien subject that we do not really know what he is really about. Those kinds of things tend to be the most effective types of racism out there,” Tang said.
The ad follows the troubles of UT’s own student conservative group. In 2011, then-president of the UT College Republicans Lauren Pierce tweeted she agreed with those who wanted to kill the president, calling it “tempting.” Her successor then tweeted: "My president is black. He smokes a lot of crack. Holla.” At the time of the writing, the removal of TAC’s ad was still uncertain.
Tang said that none of the acts are of greater importance than the other. There should be no such thing as degrees in racism.
“In a nutshell, yes the ad has racial content clearly calling him a boy and making him out to be some kind of urban thug, but it does not really pull it off because Obama does not strike me as one who is vulnerable for that kind of attack,” Tang said.