The Slatest

Arkansas Radio Ad Caricatures Black Women and Suggests a Return to Lynchings if Democrats Win

A close-up shot of Hill
Rep. French Hill United States Congress, French Hill official photo, 114th Congress

A Republican congressman in Arkansas has distanced himself from a radio ad that ran in support of him Thursday, condemning it as “outrageous.”

The ad, paid for by a conservative group called Black Americans for the President’s Agenda, features two women, clearly meant to be caricatures of black women, speaking with racist tropes to explain their vote for House candidate French Hill.

One of the women in the ad warns that, based on the Democrats’ support of Christine Blasey Ford in her accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, black voters should be worried about white women making false accusations of sexual assault against black men and being believed.

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“If the Democrats can do that to a white justice of the Supreme Court with no evidence, no corroboration, and all of her witnesses including her best friend say it didn’t happen, what will happen to our husbands, our fathers, or our sons when a white girl lies on them?” the woman asks.

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The other woman responds: “Girl, white Democrats will be lynching black folk again.”

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“Honey, I’ve always told my son, Don’t be messin’ around with that,” the first woman replies. “If you get caught, she will cry rape.”

The second woman ends the ad by saying she would vote for Hill and other Republicans in the midterms. “We can’t afford to let white Democrats take us back to bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences, and lynchings when a white girl screams rape.”

Hill condemned the ad Thursday, saying, “There is no place in Arkansas for this nonsense.”

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According to the Associated Press, the North Carolina-based PAC that ran the ad said it had not coordinated with Hill’s campaign.

The ad’s suggestion that Democrats would herald a return to racial violence driven by sexual assault accusations mimics arguments some conservatives made during the Kavanaugh hearing, comparing the Supreme Court justice to Tom Robinson, the innocent black man accused of rape in To Kill a Mockingbird. As Jamelle Bouie wrote in Slate, the comparison is a false one. “During the Jim Crow era, allegations of rape and sexual assault against black men weren’t good-faith efforts to uncover abuse against women,” he wrote. “They were pretexts for mob violence and brutal, public executions, meant to punish black Americans for stepping outside the boundaries set by white society.”

The co-founder of the PAC told CNN that the group planned to continue to run the ad until next week. “The Me Too movement overreached and the biggest threat with switching the presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt is to black men,” he said.

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