Dark Money Group Darkens Obama’s Skin Color in Ad

Vets For a Strong America has gotten a lot of attention for its recent video attacking President Obama for taking too much credit for the Osama bin Laden killing. Here at Mother Jones‘ southern regional headquarters, though, the most exciting part of the video was the fact that they used a headline from one of my posts a few days ago. Booyah! However, even after waiting for a week, I haven’t seen anybody point out the truly most egregious part of the video: darkening the image in an obvious attempt to exploit racial stereotypes that associate dark skin tones with criminal thuggishness. Remember the hue and cry when Time magazine did that to O.J. Simpson in 1994? Remember the hue and cry when Hillary Clinton’s campaign supposedly did that to Obama during the 2008 primary, even though it actually hadn’t? But this time nobody cares. I guess times have changed.

UPDATE: I am — obviously, I think — not personally suggesting that dark skin tones make you a thug. But this is a very well-worn racial stereotype, and photo manipulation like this has an ugly history. I really don’t think there’s a benign explanation for crude Photoshopping like this. I’ve modified the text to make this clear.

More MotherJones reporting on Dark Money

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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