EDITORIAL: No room for metaphors in politics

We get the idea: Politicians love to rally support by pandering to an audience’s emotions. But each time it happens, anybody dumb as a rock can see right through it.

This past week of news is no different. Mayor Ray Nagin of New Orleans raised a few heads last week after saying “Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it’s destroyed and put stress on this country.”

It would be no surprise if far-right conservatives such as Pat Robertson were at home watching this saying “Hey! He stole my move!”

Oh, but Nagin has a few original tricks of his own. During the same speech, which was on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in front of a predominantly black audience, Nagin urged his constituents to rebuild a “chocolate New Orleans” and went on to say “you can’t have New Orleans no other way.”

We’ll ignore the fact that using the phrase “no other way” is improper grammar, but the chocolate statement seemed like Nagin’s blatant attempt to, dare we say, “milk” support from black residents. After all, Nagin is up for re-election in April.

Speaking of which, it’s ironic a mayor is urging to rebuild a “chocolate New Orleans” after The Washington Post reported last week that Nagin was elected in 2002 by 90 percent of white voters in New Orleans and lost in “nearly all predominantly black neighborhoods.”

Even funnier, he didn’t immediately apologize for his chocolate statement. In an interview with CNN, Nagin tried to clarify his statement about a “chocolate New Orleans” wasn’t meant to be racially divisive.

He explained “How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about.”

Nagin’s comments were stupid and he finally apologized. But Ray Nagin is just one example. Also last week, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) spoke in front of a predominantly black church in Harlem. She said Republican leaders have run the U.S. House of Representatives “like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about.”

Yeah, we know what you’re talking about Hillary. We just think that you don’t. While we understand and agree that Republicans have abused much power in the House, comparing it to slavery conditions during the 1800s is wrong. Just comparing the House to a plantation downplays the severity of what slavery was in this country.

We agree with what Hillary Clinton was trying to say. But don’t bring slavery into it just to get the “black vote.”

As usual, politicians use certain buzz references that will strike chords. In these cases, they were directed toward a black audience. In other audiences, politicians might prefer to make references to the Holocaust and al-Qaida. Both sides of the political aisle are doing it, and it needs to stop.

It’s time politicians like Nagin and Clinton stop using absurd analogies and start speaking the truth. We’re human beings, not potential votes.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.