Sunday, May 15, 2005

How Is The Hahn Campaign Racist In Nature? Let Us Count The Ways.

A reader, commenting on my recent blog on the L.A. Times falling down in its coverage and editorializing on the mayoral campaign, raises the fair question: "Please explain how the Hahn campaign is racist in nature? That's a serious charge to be floating without evidence."

But there is evidence, plenty of it, and to find the racism in the Hahn campaign against Villaraigosa, all you have to do is look at the Hahn advertisements and listen to his speeches. They are designed to fix Villaraigosa in the voter mind as a stereotyped Latino, soft on crime, easy on corruption, untrustworthy. It is a desperate campaign that fixes on the notion that Latinos are still very much a voting minority in Los Angeles, and they can be targeted and treated in a discriminatory way, with the view of reelecting a white man who otherwise would stand no chance.

All these charges, soft on crime, easy on corruption, untrustworthy, are code words. They do not describe Latinos as a whole in Los Angeles or elsewhere, and just as Sam Yorty tried to do with Tom Bradley, saying in 1969 and 1973 that he was soft on crime and a black power advocate, they do not fit the challenger at all -- they play to the prejudices of some Angelenos. They are designed to give people an excuse to vote for an incumbent, in this case, Hahn, who has done little to actually deserve their votes.

It's fairly easy to find, in any past legislator's record, votes that can be distorted or taken out of context. That's certainly the case with Hahn advertising, trying to make something out of a single Villaraigosa vote years ago against a child abuse bill in the Legislature. For one thing, anyone who knows the record of the Legislature in this state knows that simply authoring bills lengthening prison terms isn't effectively fighting crime.

Villaraigosa has had the courage to be a member of the Southern California ACLU and to try to fight crime in more expeditious ways than simply voting for every higher prison sentence that comes along.

The Hahn mail, with its simplistic evidence for the mayor's "crime fighting," by using the endorsements of police and fire unions, is an insult to the public's intelligence and implicitly racist in itself. Anyone who knows about the police and fire unions know they usually support candidates who are going to give them higher pay and pension benefits, at the expense of the taxpayers, and that has nothing to do with fighting crime.

The police and fire unions also support Hahn because he got rid of Police Chief Bernard Parks for them, and why didn't they like Parks? Basically, because he was tough on police misconduct, a black police chief who was out of sync with the white police and fire unions. He didn't treat misbehaving officers with kid gloves.

So, this mail is just more of the Hahn racist campaign, set up by his cynical managers, Bill Carrick and Kam Kuwata. Can't my questioner recognize this for what it is?

And the Hahn phone campaign, directed mainly at Republicans and whites, that's just more of the same. The same thing as the Yorty campaign against Bradley.

Who do they think we are in the Los Angeles electorate? Naive simpletons?

And the really scurrilous thing about this racist effort is that James Hahn is descended from a man, Kenneth Hahn, who fought all his life for minority rights and who hated stereotypes. I've written before that Kenny Hahn must be rolling over in his grave to see how his son is campaigning now.

When any such campaign is waged, it is certainly the obligation of a newspaper, and an editorial page editor, which claim to be liberal, to struggle against it, and more effectively than a weak editorial calling Hahn a "ho hum" mayor and not explicitly naming the kind of campaign he is waging.. But of course, the Times, under absentee Chicago ownership, editors from the East, and the half-absentee editorial page direction of Michael Kinsley, isn't the newspaper of Dorothy and Otis Chandler any more. Again on Sunday morning, its "Times Endorsements" editorial refuses to call the Hahn campaign for what it is.

And who does my questioner think I am? An inexperienced political novice who can't tell racism when he sees it?

No, I have some political writing experience, going back to 1967 for the L.A. Times. I personally covered the Yorty campaign. Both before and after going down South as the paper's Atlanta correspondent, I covered George Wallace. In college, I read V.O. Key's "Southern Politics in State and Nation." I was in the South in 1970 when Richard Nixon formed his Southern strategy, and again in 1976 when Jimmy Carter ran in the Florida presidential primary against Wallace.. I covered those campaigns. Here, in Los Angeles, I covered the disgraceful Robbins campaign against Bradley, who was then the incumbent mayor.

I know racism when I see it, and I see it right now in Los Angeles in the Hahn campaign. Let's hope the electorate doesn't fall for this crap again, as it did in 1969 when Yorty came from behind and beat Bradley in Bradley's first bid for mayor.

I hope that answers the question that has been posed.


Blogger shelly sloan said...

Bravo Ken.

Of all the posts you have made to this blog, I find this one the most direct, concise and thorough.

The buzz words are legion in this campaign. The level of slime is insulting.

For this Republican, I am disgusted by the way the right wing of my party seems to have embraced this life long Democrat Hahn as if he were its own.

Now I find that the Treasurer of the State Party, who is married to the Chair of the County Party, has received over $20,000 from the Hahn campaign for "consulting sevices".

I hope every Republican I know hears about this and is as disgusted as I am.

If they don't throw the two of them out, I am inclined to re-register Independent.

5/15/2005 3:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excuse me for being anoymous, but I asked the question and am not satisfied with your "evidence" as you put it. The only evidence you supply is that Hahn uses law enforcement endorsements in his advertising, and you say that is inherently racist, which is rediculous. Villaraigosa also touts law endorsement endorsements, but you don't fault him for that. Jim Hahn's mail pieces tend to rely on crime stats. Are those stats biased?

If you want to see how to incorporate evidence into an argument instead of making wreckless and unsupported charges, see Gregory Rodriguez's column in today's LA Times. He makes a very convincing case that Villaraigosa's ethnicity has been skillfully used as a shield to protect him from more probing questions from reporters like you, that reporters are scared to ask him and dig around him lest they be called racist, as the Villaraigosa campaign does all the time (including Saturday).

Villaraigosa's lone vote against stregthening punishments for child abusers who kill their victims is not taken out of context. It's part of a context of Villaraigosa's weak history and current positions on public safety issues. He was the ONLY vote against this bill, which was signed into law, and supported by such right wingers as Kuehl, Bustamante, etc. Latinos voted for the law.

The law itself did not only strengthen punishment, of which you are skeptical; it also lowered the prosecutorial theshold to bring charges against child abusers. So far, 40 cases have been sucessfully prosecuted under this law.

Ken, you may not agree with the law, and you may agree with Villaraigosa's lawsuit against gang injunctions, which showed that he will not support innovative and controversial strategies to crack down on crime. Villaraigosa's currently professes lukewarm and vague support for gang injunctions, just as he did for Meagan's Law in the Assembly.

You and Villaraigosa may not agree that trying to get a drug dealer who was caught with 800 pounds of crack cocaine shows a lack of judgment and respect for the seriousness of that crime.

You and Villaraigosa may not agree about raising sales taxes within the City of Los Angeles to hire more police officers.

You and Villaraigosa also may not support the LAPD flexible work schedule. It's unclear where Villaraigosa stands on this issue as the press has given him a pass apparently, and he still has not indicated whether he would have supported a second term for Chief Bernard Parks, who you apparently agree would have done a better job than Bill Bratton and who bore no responsibility for the skyrocketing officer attrition and crime rates. And Parks did put on the kid gloves with the officers involved in the Rampart corruption scandal, which occured on his watch lest you forget.

Yes, you and Villaraigosa are very liberal. It's not racist to be less liberal than Councilmember Villaraigosa.

Hahn has every right to raise differences with his opponent on public safety issues, which show vast differences on a critical issue where Hahn has shown strength.

Villaraigosa on these issues has shown weakness.

He also has no credibility because he has offered conversions or contradictory explanations on EACH!

He so far has taken six positions on his vote against the Tyler Jaeger act. He has taken three positions so far on gang injunctions. He has taken at least three positions on whether he would have retained Chief Bernard Parks.

I defy you to document all of Villaraigosa's positions on the LAPD flexible work scheudle.

In conclusion, Hahn is not injecting race into this. You and your other Villaraigosa supporters are to blunt the real difficiencies that Hahn has exposed in your candidate's qualifications.

Villaraigosa is running a single-issue campaign: trust. Hahn has every right to attack that issue because Villaraigosa is not trustworthy.

White candidates are allowed to run against minority candidates. They should not be deterred from raising clear contrasts on important issues. It's sad that you disagree.

I await your response.

5/15/2005 8:47 AM  
Anonymous DR said...


What the heck were you doing up at 3:24 A.M.?

Don't you ever sleep?

5/15/2005 11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 8:47;

RE: AB 2258. A few facts:

1) 27 state legislators voted no or abstained (the same as a "no" vote) on this bill. It was controversial. For a reason.

2) The bill eliminate the notion that you have to find "intentionality" to obtain what isw, in essence, a 1st degree murder conviction (25 to life)

This is from the bill analysis itself:

“This bill may punish the killing of a child by someone having the care and custody of that child more severely than if that child were intentionally killed by a stranger.”

Is that really your aim here? Is that appropriate public policy?

3) In the year before the law passed (1995) exactly ZERO people were prosecuted under statute that AB2258 strengthened -- why, because people who kill children are prosecuted for murder -- not for child abuse resulting in death.

4) No surprise that there have been 4 or 5 convictions per year under AB 2258. But those people would have been convicted anyway, either under the old law or another law. If the prosecuters could show intentionality, they would be convicted as a 1st or 2nd degree murder. If not, then they would have received 15 to life under the old statute.

5)The boyfriend of Karey Jaeger was convicted as a 2nd degree murderer.

6) Villaraigosa voted, the same week, to increase penalties for 2nd degree murder from 15 to life to 25 to life -- the same sentence as AB2258. A bill, incidentially, that the ACLU opposed.

Increasing penalties for 2nd degree murger impacts hundreds of criminal per year.

7) Villaraigosa voted over 70 times for legislation to strengthen penalties for child abuse, crimes against children or to better enforce laws protecting children.

You are right, it is fine to examine Villaraigosa's record - and despite whjat Greg Rodriguez says, I don't see any hesitancy on the part of anyone to dwelve into it. But it is too easy to take one complex vote and smear someone by insinuating that Villaraigosda is a friend of child abusers -- or wants people who abuse children to go unpunished. Or, as Hahn has repeatedly said himself, that Villaraigosa is on the side of the gang bangers.

Have you no shame?

5/16/2005 7:56 AM  
Anonymous JSM said...

I'm not enamored of Hahn, but I like, others who've commented here, am far from convinced that his campaign is racist -- both from following it and from reading your evidence.

Your argument that labeling Villaraigosa as "easy on corruption and untrustworthy" qualifies as racial/ethnic stereotpying is misguided. That's what people say about politicians, not Latinos, and more to the point -- that's exactly what people are saying about Hahn! That he's easy on corruption and untrustworthy! All Villaraigosa does is point out that the Hahn administration is being investigated for corruption, pay-to-play, etc.

Hahn is just pathetically trying to the same charges back at Villaraigosa. It may be dumb, but it's not racist.

Hahn's use of endorsements of police and fire unions to prove he's tough on crime is, as you said "simplistic." And that strategy arguably insults the public's intelligence, as you said. But find me a candidate in any race anywhere in the country whose campaign does NOT insult the public's intelligence! I hate to break the news, but the average voter does not turn to the Nation or the Economist for its info. Politicians know this and they pander appropriately. It sucks, and it does not encourage people to think hard about the issues, but it's not racist.

To say that police and fire unions didn't like Parks because he was tough on police misconduct is revisionist history. I have one word: Rampart.

Let's face reality: both these guys are running campaigns that have very little to do with substance, and which seek to inspire voters with fear of the other candidate rather than confidence in either of them. And certainly both these candidates treat the public as if we are a bunch of idiots.

But calling Hahn's campaign racist is not fair. Stupid would be fine.


5/16/2005 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ken is right - the code words are all there again - and bolstered by hahn allies like hal netkin and his american patrol buddies, a hate group monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

This isn't a racist campaign?

what about the phone calls into the african american community saying villaraigosa doesn't have enough "black appointees"? this is a blatent attempt to inflame black-latino rivalries. how about darkening antonio's skin in all the mailers and television ads? how about saying the word "gang" whenever hahn mentions villaraigosa? that's not an attempt to stampede white voters with the latino gangster stereotype?

and get a "crack cocaine dealer" off?

excuse me, and this may be splitting hairs, but that was white person's cocaine - powder. and cardinal mahony and lee baca also wrote letters for vignali.

the crack cocaine "little white lie" is just another gangster stereotype.

i agree with you ken - i knew kenny hahn, and he NEVER would have allowed this crap in any of his campaigns, and he sure wouldn't have allowed it in his son's campaign if he were alive today.

its a shame - in jimmy's attempts to smear antonio, all he is really doing is smearing and destroying his own father's considerable legacy.

5/16/2005 10:43 AM  
Anonymous JSM said...

Alright, here are some questions:

If it were Hahn -- instead of Villaraigosa -- who had been the only "no" vote on a bill that went after child abusers, would Villaraigosa have tried to use that against him in his campaign?

If it were Hahn who had failed to appoint many Africans Americans, would Villaraigosa have tried to use that against him?

If it were Hahn who had not supported gang injunctions back in the day, and then decided this year that he would support them, would Villaraigosa have used that against him?

The answer to all of these is "absolutely" (if you can argue "no," be my guest). So how can you say these are racial tactics when a Latino candidate would be using the same attack points on a white candidate if the situation were reversed?


5/16/2005 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so tired of people always crying "racism, racism" when political differences between candidates or policies favored by one person compared with another are being pointed to.

I'm not that impressed with either Hahn or Villaraigosa, but the ACLU-leftist thinking of Antonio deserves no less scrutiny than the more subtle liberalism of Jim.

As far as I'm concerned, the only issue is whether Hahn is overstating Villaraigosa's left-of-center predilictions, and whether Antonio getting a "born to raise hell" tattoo in his younger years is a hint that a mayor's office run by him will may end up as ethically challenged as the one managed by Hahn.

5/16/2005 1:20 PM  
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