Emma Roller of the New York Times opined today that recent TV campaign ads from presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are the "direct descendants" of the controversial 1988 ad about Willie Horton, which Roller says "set the standard for race-baiting political ads for cycles to come." The ads are stirring up "fear and racism" among "white people primed for such tactics." Hey, it's the New York Times - of course they're going to say that.
"In the 2016 campaign," writes Roller,
one thing candidates haven’t been afraid of is embracing fear, especially the fears they can stir up by exaggerating a threat posed by Muslims or by immigrants from Latin America. The intended audience for these ads — white people primed for such tactics — is taken for granted.
The ads are in many ways the direct descendants of a political advertisement from 1988 about a man named William Horton, who came to be known as “Willie.” While that ad didn’t end up deciding the election, it set the standard for race-baiting political ads for cycles to come.
Horton was the black murderer serving time in Massachusetts who stabbed a man and raped the victim's fiancee while on "furlough." He became the centerpiece of a George H.W. Bush ad which succeeded in painting his opponent, Massachusetts Governor George Dukakis, as soft on crime. The left saw it, just as the Times' Emma Roller sees it, as playing on white Republicans' racial fear:
The Willie Horton ad, then, is a clear example of how political debates can be won: through the precise, tactical application of fear, no matter the moral consequences.
Leftists certainly know all about playing the race card, no matter the moral consequences. But I digress.
Roller goes on to defend the safety record of sanctuary cities and to dismiss as "an accident" the murder of San Francisco woman Kate Steinle at the hands of an illegal alien and five-time deportee.
For Roller, the New York Times, and progressives across the country, the political ads from Cruz and Trump are exploiting Republicans' irrational fear of non-white, "undocumented immigrants." Because they can't debate the issues of crime and illegal immigration on their merits, they fall back on dismissing Republicans as racists living in fear.