On July 23, the re-election campaign of South Carolina’s Republican Senator Lindsey Graham uploaded an ad to Facebook in which they depicted Graham’s Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison — who is black — with a noticeably darker skin tone. The ad insists that “South Carolinians won’t stand for Radical Leftists telling them how to think and how to vote,” as if a particularly dark skin tone is supposed to be presented as synonymous with “Radical Leftists.” The point of the whole debacle seems to be, of course, to fearmonger via using “dog-whistle politics,” as one Harrison ally noted.
— Schooley (@Rschooley) July 24, 2020
JA Moore, who is a South Carolina state representative and a surrogate for the Harrison campaign, commented:
‘It’s the kind of dog-whistle politics that the Republican party has been practicing for a number of years now… We don’t recognize Lindsey Graham. He’s not the person that was originally elected over 20 years ago to the federal office, and I think this is just another example of a bought-and-paid-for politician who is so focused on his own personal gain and less focused on the people of South Carolina.’
This is the oldest trick in the book. South Carolinians are sick and hurting right now, let’s keep our eye on the ball and fight for them.
It’s time for Lindsey Graham to wake up to the New South: bold, inclusive. and diverse.https://t.co/VcMiitYb6z
— Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) July 29, 2020
Amazingly, the Graham campaign refused to acknowledge any issue with the ad. Besides noting that the same editing had apparently been done to footage of Graham in other recent advertising material on Facebook, T.W. Arrighi, who serves as communications director for Graham’s campaign, insisted that the ad was “intended to highlight Jaime Harrison’s support from Kathy Griffin, a liberal actress who once posed with a fake severed head of Donald Trump.” What on earth does Griffin’s support for Harrison actually have to do with presenting him with a noticeably darker skin tone?
‘The artistic effect used, the same one that was used on Senator Graham just two days before in a video, is a non-story. The only people who want to shift focus from policies important to South Carolinians — like creating jobs and bringing our medical supply chain back from China — are liberal detractors who are trying to hide their radical positions.’
It is just utterly amazing that the Graham campaign is so committed to its ideology that it refuses to even acknowledge any issue with presenting an image of a black opponent that’s been altered to depict them with a darker skin tone, as if that darker skin tone itself is supposed to be a scare tactic.