# What's wrong with this picture?March 2, 2001 8:29 AM   Subscribe

What's wrong with this picture? See any people of color that will benefit from the Bush Tax Plan?
posted by darren (56 comments total)

ohmygod! he's in a picture with white people.
What does that have to do with who will benefit from his tax plan. And speaking of the tax plan, when are the white male, late 20's, overpaid Web developers going to get a tax break. What, I don't deserve one?
posted by jbelshaw at 8:43 AM on March 2, 2001

If you look to the far left, behind the guy with the glasses...you'll see someone that may be Chinese. Also, if you stare for a couple of minutes at Bush's left shoulder, you'll see what appears to be the hairdo of an African American. So I really don't get what you mean. (of course, I'm being satirical, and agree something's a bit odd about all the smiling white people in this photo)
posted by samsara at 8:48 AM on March 2, 2001

What's most wrong with that picture is the white gradient they put at the bottom.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2001

Fun with numbers! Use the handy dandy tax cut propaganda machine to calculate your tax cut.

Suppose you're married filing jointly have two kids and a combined income of, say, \$65,000. Your tax cut is \$1618. Not bad. (Without the kids, it's less than half that, but that's another matter.)

Suppose, now, that your combined income increases by a factor of 10 to \$650,000. Your tax cut goes up by a factor of over 20, to \$32,655.

If you're a millionaire and your annual earnings total \$6,500,000 (a factor of 100 over the original example), your tax cuts grows to \$418,755--a factor of over 258.

What do you stand to gain?
posted by jpoulos at 8:51 AM on March 2, 2001

posted by frednorman at 9:01 AM on March 2, 2001

I heard bush plan clearly states that the tax cuts are only for white, over 40's top rich 1% of a republican leaning.
posted by tiaka at 9:07 AM on March 2, 2001

I'm not even sure if Bush was in the photo in the first place. See the alternate masthead. They either inserted him, or cleaned something out of the background. And what is above the woman to his left?
posted by jwells at 9:13 AM on March 2, 2001

What's wrong with that page?

What's wrong????

It was done using Frontpage, that's what's wrong!

It's like the man is out to get me.
posted by jbeaumont at 9:15 AM on March 2, 2001

Here is another fun Bush tax-plan chart.
(Married filing jointly)

Family Income.....Tax Bracket.........Improvement
10,000................15% to 10%.........5%
40,000................15%....................NONE
70,000................28% to 25%.........3%
150,000..............31% to 25%.........6%
300,000..............39.6% to 33%.......6.6%

Source - The White House
posted by quirked at 9:25 AM on March 2, 2001

What I noticed is that just about everyone, including Smirk, is squinty eyed. If this were not a photo op, I suspect many would be wearing the conventional sun glasses and using Murine. Not to worry. These kids will not get the checks. Only their mommies and putative fathers. If the tax give back seems to favor the very wealthy, this convinces me to try harder to become rich so I can get more too someday. Reward and punish. Carrot and stick.
posted by Postroad at 9:27 AM on March 2, 2001

If you look at the video you can see that they definitely tried to edit out an unsightly shadow, and though there's nothing certain -- the photo op may have been a few moments later -- they may have edited Dick Cheney out of his position right behind Bush, and perhaps moved some of the faces around. That would account for the lousy lasso work around the heads in the center.

Still, it's a photo illustration, not a news photo, so the rules about this sort of thing are more relaxed.

This crowd looks WASP, and as for Bush's cabinet, I swear I haven't seen so many black suits and ties since Nixon's funeral. Big difference in culture: Clinton's aide-de-camp was Bruce Lindsay, who was perpetually seen toting a shoulder satchel. I swear he was closer to the man than the Marine carrying the nuclear football. But Bush's people aren't sleeve-roller-uppers, they have people to do that for them.

I stand to gain a month's rent. Whoopee.
posted by dhartung at 9:31 AM on March 2, 2001

Here's all I'm trying to say: As a white person, how likely is it that you would have noticed this if darren hadn't pointed it out? Hell, I probably wouldn't have looked at it long enough to notice.

For a person of color, there is no question of how long it will take to notice. It is instantly evident.

This my friends is what racism does to our minds. We see that the world around us is not white, but our minds don't object to images like this which purport to represent America.

Now, stand back. I'm not gonna call you a racist. I'm just gonna say that I and everyone else who didn't notice right away has some amount of learned & well-hidden racial prejudice in them.

And to follow up on Zinn's notion that "you can't be neutral on a moving train," I would propose -- simply for discussion -- that it is a racist act not to write to the webmaster and indicate that this graphic should be replaced with an appropriately representative image. It is racist not because it is one image of a dozen white faces, but because it is one example of an ocean of images which by repetition, condition us to accept this stuff as the norm.
posted by sudama at 9:37 AM on March 2, 2001

Needlessly fine semantic distinctions always help me digest another ridiculous suckjob-for-the-wealthy tax wangle. Thanks, frednorman!

posted by Skot at 9:43 AM on March 2, 2001

Sudama, you're so full of it.

For a person of color, there is no question of how long it will take to notice. It is instantly evident.

Only if you are a continually race-baiting moron who has nothing better to do than scour every picture on every website to make sure that you're being fairly represented, because God forbid that there should ever be a picture made without a black person in it.

Will you please get the hell over yourself and quit talking for a community that you are not a part of? Thank you.

posted by Dreama at 9:53 AM on March 2, 2001

Sudama... just for discussion :-)... what if the photo IS representative? Not representative of America, just subconsciously representative of who will get the most out of the tax plan? (Just instigating a bit. LOL.)
posted by thunder at 9:59 AM on March 2, 2001

I asked my GOP first selectman about the picture and he told me it was meant to represent the bulk of those voting for Smirk. The "others," he said, were mostly welfare types and therefore no accounts.
posted by Postroad at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2001

Yeah, sudama, it'd be better if for every portrayal of humans in every type of media someone would count and make sure an accurate percentage of every ethnicity is faithfully represented.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:19 AM on March 2, 2001

Gee, I'm a race-baiting moron. Thanks for giving me yet another identity-feather for my cap, Dreama!
posted by likorish at 10:25 AM on March 2, 2001

Here's all I'm trying to say: As a white person, how likely is it that you would have noticed this if darren hadn't pointed it out? Hell, I probably wouldn't have looked at it long enough to notice. Now, stand back. I'm not gonna call you a racist. I'm just gonna say that I and everyone else who didn't notice right away has some amount of learned & well-hidden racial prejudice in them.

As the person who spotted this (and, parenthetically, a white person) I'm feeling pretty good about my self going by sudama's criteria. I've sort of reached a caucasian thetan level where I'm sensitized to this sort of thing.

My point in bringing it up was not to accuse GWB of racism, but rather to point out that since our new president is using the Ronald Reagan program of leading via photo ops and "messages of the day," this was a rather obvious gaffe that someone should have caught. I suspect by tomorrow the page banner will be changed.
posted by darren at 10:25 AM on March 2, 2001

I'm fairly positive the GOP isn't being consciously rasist by posting a photo like this. But given their speeches about diversity in the Republican convention, they could have been a little more thoughful. They're appealing to their consituents, but they've already forgotten about who they were trying to reach out to a few months ago.
posted by Loudmax at 10:28 AM on March 2, 2001

Actually, looking back at the photo and the website, I noticed that the site was paid for by the RNC, the same committee that went out of their way to highlight non-white faces during the Republican Convention in order to demonstrate just how truly inclusive the party is. Yet this photo -- while seemingly innocent to some -- flies directly in the face of all the multicultural rhetoric we've heard of late.

If the right is truly interested in building a multicultural strategy, the imagery used to represent the party is as good a place to start as any. Despite what they say in the Sprite commercials, image is everything.
posted by likorish at 10:30 AM on March 2, 2001

Well I guess we have pretty much covered the color issue. Now what percentage of those kids is gay?
posted by Postroad at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2001

I don't know, but I want to know what the girl directly behind GWB is bending down looking at...
posted by darren at 10:40 AM on March 2, 2001

Are you so sure that Sudama's not a part of our community. Think of the tagline from "American Beauty": Look closer.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 10:42 AM on March 2, 2001 [1 favorite]

I know that ethnicity appears on the US census, but I never saw it on the 1040EZ when helping Herself do her taxes. Did I miss something here?
posted by holgate at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2001

Only if you are a continually race-baiting moron...

Gimme a break, Dreama. Try to tell me that, on those rare occasions that you find yourself on "the other side of town", you aren't completely self-concious about your race.

Sudama's comments are the truest words I've read at MeFi in a very long time. I arrived at a similar understanding many years ago--long before I became a policital junky (or even a Democrat, for that matter). So I can say that I arrived at that understanding unencumbered by political rhetoric.

Dreama, you are just plain wrong on this one.
posted by jpoulos at 10:53 AM on March 2, 2001

Dreama, I should have found another way to put it or not said that at all. I'm sorry.

My point about the white viewer of the image stands, however. I'm far less interested in how the image was produced or by whom than in how it is perceived by whom -- therein lies the rub.

Why does white America, on the one hand, appreciate racial inequality and cluck "that's not right, something should be done," and on the other defend each and every instance of racism we are confronted with?

The problem is not the count. We don't need to apply statistics to our media production, just an honest recognition of who "we" are. Speaking for the community I am a part of, I say "This image doesn't reflect us." And I want a new one.
posted by sudama at 10:54 AM on March 2, 2001

feh. i notice these things. yay me, for i am a Good Person.

but then again i also can't help but sneer when i see photo shoots *so obviously engineered* to make sure everyone's represented. equal numbers of boys and girls, mostly white but with at least one each of yellow black and red, just make sure the boy isn't white because we all know about those *white males*.

so tokenism and art-directed, engineered diversity make me a little ill too---do I lose all the Liberal Points I gain by noticing pictures full of pink people?

am not defending this picture, mind you, it's about what I'd expect of Geedubyah. just wondering if it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:19 AM on March 2, 2001

It is.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:21 AM on March 2, 2001

sonofsamiam: I don't think all instances and appearances of diversity are art-directed. When it looks that way, I can see how it strikes some as irksome. If you're a thinking person (like many on MeFi) and exercising a critical eye and ear when consuming mass media images, your BS detector/Geiger counter should start clicking. I'm most ambivalent about it when it seems market-driven, product-tested and calculated to sell something to me, and less so when it seems to show a moment more about actual, authentic human interaction (an irregular occasion, but one that does happen from time to time).
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:43 AM on March 2, 2001

Yeah, I know not all photos with mixed ethnicities in them are frauds, but the fact that people do this does irk me. Finding a nice, ethnicynicly, diverse group, (one kid has to have glasses, and usually another's in a wheelchair) to try and and "represent diversity." Bleah. We are people beyond our appearance. Forcing the issue seems to say that such distinctions are important.
I guess I don't like fraudulent human interaction. It's kind of depressing.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:01 PM on March 2, 2001

Though they shouldn't be important, we must recognize that such distinctions are relevant -- and certainly that pictures like the one we're discussing are part of the problem. To fail to recognize the relevance of race to every one of us is to enable injustice.

As with most racial issues, we don't seem to be capable of coming up with a simple, satisfying solution. That doesn't mean there's nothing to be done.
posted by sudama at 12:50 PM on March 2, 2001

As with most racial issues, we don't seem to be capable of coming up with a simple, satisfying solution. That doesn't mean there's nothing to be done.

But isn't it nice to at least have a end point goal to work towards?

I feel kind of like Sapphireblue on this one, yes I noticed the sea of white faces and thought it was annoying, but yeah, the perfectly balanced multicutural images fresh from photodisc.com remind me how pointless and transparent some of these things are.
posted by mathowie at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2001

Its a little bit of this again.

posted by fiery at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2001

But isn't it nice to at least have a end point goal to work towards?

Would it illuminate the issue any better if we were to consider how we might feel if Bush were standing in front of a group composed entirely of Asians? Blacks? Latinos?

I'm working towards a culture where whoever composed that website would never even think of using an image so utterly exclusive -- the idea would be a benign absurdity.

posted by sudama at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2001

Can't they just photoshop somebody in?
posted by thirteen at 1:45 PM on March 2, 2001

I'm working towards a culture where whoever composed that website would never even think of using an image so utterly exclusive -- the idea would be a benign absurdity.

I'd much prefer a culture where no one would think of even noticing the ethnicity of people in a picture, because it's so utterly irrelevant to anything.
posted by kindall at 1:50 PM on March 2, 2001

ethnicity of people in a picture, because it's so utterly irrelevant to anything.

Utterly irrelevant to anything?

In theory, that's very nice, but in practice, it doesn't work that way - at least not NOW and on this planet.

Claiming color blindness is a way to wash your hands of responsibility. Unfortunately, if you're not actively fighting racism, you're probably unwittingly adding to it.

You could almost say that ignoring ethnicity/race is the same as ignoring racism itself.
posted by go vegan at 2:04 PM on March 2, 2001

Not noticing people's ethnicity because of its irrelevance wouldn't work. On the face of it, it sounds like an ideal of color-blindness. But it feels (to me, at first contemplation) like it would be premised in part on a self-censoring of critical assessments about images. In the culture you prefer, it might be possible that the orginal post would've gone straight into the pros and cons of Bush's proposed tax cut -- and never addressed the oddity or the annoying qualities of the picture that spurred the discussion here.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 2:12 PM on March 2, 2001

Maybe we should be upset that there are no minorities at the function this picture was taken at. What was it, the cushy intern punch party?
posted by mblandi at 2:40 PM on March 2, 2001

Sudama: You seem to be reading too much into things. Far be it for me to defend GWB but not everything is a "race thing". Smacks of "liberal guilt", which is almost as condescending as racism...
posted by owillis at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2001

We all want apparently want to know, is it a conspiracy? Or is he just plain evil?
posted by samsara at 2:56 PM on March 2, 2001

Whenever "race" is mentioned, everyone freaks out. Why can't it just be a matter of good design. For example, you wouldn't want everyone in a picture to be wearing the same clothes. It just looks wrong. Sure, clothes don't really matter (just like race doesn't really matter), but anyone with a modicum of sense, it just would look wrong. In this day and age, to many people, a group of all white people, similarly, looks wrong.
posted by jpoulos at 3:02 PM on March 2, 2001

In theory, that's very nice, but in practice, it doesn't work that way - at least not NOW and on this planet.

Well, of course. That's why I didn't say that's the way it is now. I said it's what I'd rather work for.
posted by kindall at 3:11 PM on March 2, 2001

Being a minority, this really doesn't bother me. I hate when people of color are corralled into a photo-op just to make things look equal.

What I can't understand is why a person of color would willingly show up at a Bush rally in the first place.

(Which, incidentally, is what this is.)

posted by perplexed at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2001

All things considered, I prefer this picture.
posted by owillis at 4:00 PM on March 2, 2001

What's wrong with this picture? Remind me, if I ever go into politics, never to hail a cab.HEIL CABBIE!
posted by samsara at 4:23 PM on March 2, 2001

Whenever "race" is mentioned, everyone freaks out.

The originating post is pure, unadulterated race baiting. The idea that Bush's tax plan is somehow conspiratorially engineered to prevent all black people from getting a tax cut or any other financial break - which is the only possible thing the post could be saying - is flat-out racist bullshit. So yes, a lot of people are going to "freak out" as a result.

And if you want to talk about the logistics of the photo itself, fine, but you'll have to answer these questions first: Where's the original uncropped photo? What's the racial makeup of the entire crowd behind Bush at the original event? Where did the people come from? Were they all picked well ahead of time (which would have to have been purely for their whiteness, of course, for any of the above claims to have legitimacy) or were people just randomly grabbed off the White House tour? Etc.

Besides, with so many people saying things like "What I can't understand is why a person of color would willingly show up at a Bush rally in the first place," why the hell should Bush's team even try? They're damned if they do and damned if they don't in liberals' eyes: Photo op with no blacks = racism. Photo op with blacks = patronization since we all know the Administration is a bunch of racists anyway, right? (wink, wink.) Bush will just end up on the receiving end of hate speech either way.

The Republican Party is open to everyone. If there are people of color who kneejerkingly refuse to have anything to do with it, that's their problem. (Hint: True racist organizations have ZERO blacks in them. If even 10% of African-Americans are willing to side with the Republicans, then there's obviously something more going on than the other 90% are willing to even consider. It's not a black and white issue. Pun intended.
posted by aaron at 11:55 PM on March 2, 2001

According to the video this shoot was done in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Well according to this data (from 95): Arlington Heights is 93 percent white and 7 percent minority. Guess that would explain, purely from a statistical point of view, why this picture is so diverse. According to Bush's PR strategy it appears just weird that his people did not make more of an effort to us this grande opportunity (after all he is an uniter and not a divider...).

Interestingly enough in 1977 the Supreme Court upheld the decision in "VILLAGE OF ARLINGTON HEIGHTS ET AL. v. METROPOLITAN HOUSING DEVELOPMENT CORP. ET AL." . The case involved a new housing development targeted at low income and moderate income households, which was opposed by the town. Suit was brought, because some felt this was due to racial discrimination. Now while I do not want to delve into this case (as I am not a lawyer), I still find the following figure interesting -- "According to the 1970 census, only 27 of the Village's 64,000 residents were black."

It just seems to me that Arlington Heights, Ill. is this nicely engineered community, where everything is just 'sooo perfect'... I can just envision how that \$1000 tax cut that lady in the video referred will improve the landscaping of her home...

...,I just don't understand how the U.S. 'works'. Diversity seems always be an issue of grievance here. I find it absurd that there is a need for minorities to be photoshopped in. I find it absurd that there is so much artificial segregation in those 'perfect' little suburbs. And that you then have turn around and teach kids about diversity in college (coz they dont know it).

...
posted by noom at 11:59 PM on March 2, 2001

A goofy racial thread where Sudama expects racial quotas in scenes and I miss my chance... DAMNIT!
posted by holloway at 2:33 AM on March 3, 2001 [1 favorite]

posted by sudama at 8:09 AM on March 3, 2001

Actually, noom, that video (and photograph) were taken on the South Lawn of the White House. The event (which I watched on C-SPAN) took place about one hour before the nutcase with the gun fired random shots into the South Lawn.

I just watched it again: the woman says "When you came to our hometown of Arlington Heights ..."

An insight into the composition is that these were all people that were used as examples during the Bush-Cheney campaign. In fact, the event was called the "Tax Family Reunion". Salon examined exactly what it meant to be a Bush-Cheney tax family.

There are many requirements to be a Bush campaign "tax family": no kids in day care or college or under the age of one, no sick parents or children at home, no one at night school and an income roughly between \$35,000 and \$70,000. A Washington Post story from early September reported that the Bush campaign's requirements for its "tax families" effectively eliminated 85 percent of the population in that income bracket.

CBS reported similarly

As he did with seniors in Clearwater, Fla., the day before, Bush assumed a plainspoken, "just folks" manner and trotted out another picture-perfect "tax family." Most of these families are young, two-parent households with two or three children and incomes in the \$30,000-\$50,000 range who would benefit from Bush's proposed tax cut.

Perhaps the most illuminating was an earlier Salon article.

Turning to a bleacher under the sign "Bringing America Together," Bush picks out the carefully screened "tax family" who will benefit from his tax plan more so than from Gore's. They're easy to pick out -- they're the only African-American family in the joint.

Ken and Sharon Ashford and their three children pay \$7,198 in federal income taxes, Bush says. The crowd boos. Bush does not mention that the family makes \$72,000 a year. The Ashfords will save \$3,390 under the Bush plan, but only \$390 under Gore's, he says.

Some time ago, the Washington Post reported on the rigorous screening process Bush "tax families" now have to go through before they can be paraded on the stump. The Gore campaign was showing that many Bush families would actually save more money with the vice president's targeted tax cuts than they would under the Texas governor's plan. Now, in order to avoid such potential embarrassments, Bush tax families can't have any children under the age of 1, or any kids in day care or college. No one can attend night school. The family must also have an annual income somewhere between \$35,000 and \$70,000. And it must have "no substantial savings outside of 401(k)," according to a GOP memo in search of a New Mexico tax family.

The Bush "tax family" requirements, the Post pointed out, eliminate 85 percent of the families in that income bracket.

posted by dhartung at 9:13 AM on March 3, 2001

dhartung, thanks for clarifying that. I guess I just heard Arlington Heights, Illinois, which thus was carved into my mind...

But the stringent requirements for Bush's 'tax family' status may very well explain the composition of the photo shoot.

Applying requirements like those to other areas in life would produce some very akward situations. Reminds me a bit of European trade and product policies, but that's a completley different story...
posted by noom at 3:07 PM on March 3, 2001

This is one of the most heated threads I've ever seen, and it's based on practically nothing. Myself, I need more proof that Bush is indeed a racist.

posted by Watcher at 1:12 PM on March 4, 2001

*This* thread!? You're new here. Just wait.
posted by rodii at 1:42 PM on March 4, 2001

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