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I often hear black people using Willie Horton as an example of black oppression by white people.
 I will admit I don't know a lot about the man, the little I have heard is that he was a murderer who was sentenced to life in prison, and caught a break and was temporarly let out and used that time to kill some more.

Is there more to the story than that? There must be; otherwise why would so many people use such an evil man as an example of black victimization unless he was a victom himself?

Your thoughts?


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Your factual summary is incorrect ... WH was a convicted murder who while on forlough committed a rape and robbery.  But his being used as a "symbol of black oppression by white people" is correctly off base ... if anything, WH was used as an example of white oppression by Black people, i.e., the Southern Strategy.  WH was one of the first national "scary Black Man" campaign.
Quote by Kweli4Real: "if anything, WH was used as an example of white oppression by Black people, i.e., the Southern Strategy.  WH was one of the first national "scary Black Man" campaign."

The "Scary Black Man" campaign that was devised by the Republicans who picked up the Willie Horton issue after Massassachuttes Democrat Michael Dukakis clinched the nomination. In June 1988, Republican candidate George H.W. Bush seized on the Horton case, bringing it up repeatedly in campaign speeches. Bush's campaign manager, Lee Atwater, predicted that "by the time this election is over, Willie Horton will be a household name." Media consultant Roger Ailes remarked "the only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it." 

In April 1988, Lee Atwater asked aide Jim Pinkerton for negative research to defeat Dukakis.

Pinkerton returned with reams of material that Atwater told him to reduce to a 3x5 index card, telling him, "I'm giving you one thing. You can use both sides of the 3x5 card." Pinkerton discovered the furlough issue by watching the Felt Forum debate. On May 25, 1988, Republican consultants met in Paramus, New Jersey, holding a focus group of Democrats who had voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984. After giving the focus group the material Pinkerton provided on the index card, most of the voters switched from favoring Dukakis to favoring Bush. These focus groups convinced Atwater and the other Republican consultants that they should 'go negative' against Dukakis. Further information regarding the furlough came from aide Andrew Card, a Massachusetts native whom President George W. Bush later named as his Chief of Staff.

Although commercials about Willie Horton were not run until the fall campaign, Bush first mentioned him at the Texas Republican convention on June 9, 1988. The following week at the Illinois Republican convention in Springfield, Bush began to press the argument against Dukakis by declaring that Dukakis had let Horton loose to 'terrorize innocent people' and continued support of the furlough program until the Massachusetts legislature changed the law. Bush again mentioned Horton at the National Sheriffs Association in Louisville, Kentucky and declared himself in favor of 'life without parole' for convicted murderers.

Over the Fourth of July weekend in 1988, Atwater attended a motorcyclists' convention in Luray, Virginia. Two couples were talking about the Horton story as featured in the July issue of Reader's Digest. Atwater joined them and never once mentioned who he was. Later that night, a focus group in Alabama had turned completely against Dukakis when presented the information about Horton's furlough. Atwater used this occurrence to argue the necessity of pounding Dukakis about the furlough issue.

Beginning on September 21, 1988, the Americans for Bush arm of the National Security Political Action Committee (NSPAC), under the auspices of Floyd Brown, began running a campaign ad entitled "Weekend Passes", using the Horton case to attack Dukakis. The ad was produced by media consultant Larry McCarthy, who had previously worked for Roger Ailes. After clearing the ad with television stations, McCarthy added a menacing mug shot of Horton, who is African American. He called the image "every suburban mother's greatest fear." Additionally, although Horton actually went by "William", the ad's creators changed his name to "Willie." The ad was run as an independent expenditure, separate from the Bush campaign, which claimed not to have had any role in its production.

On October 5, 1988, a day after the "Weekend Passes" ad was taken off the airwaves, was the date of the Bentsen-Quayle debate, the Bush campaign ran its own ad, "Revolving Door", which also attacked Dukakis over the weekend furlough program. While the advertisement did not mention Horton or feature his photograph, it depicted a variety of intimidating-looking men walking in and out of prison through a revolving door. The commercial was filmed at an actual state prison in Draper, Utah, but the individuals depicted — thirty in all, including three African Americans and two Hispanics, were all paid actors.

Kevin-1222: Typical right wing, tea party asshole.

My question to you is,...."why do you keep trying"? Are you stupid?

Quote by Kevin-1222: "I heard it as part of a discuss on TV as I was flipping through the channels, and I over heard some associates using it in casual conversation. When I looked it up on line, I didn't see anything that portrays him as being a victim of anything; just an example of somebody worthy of the death peanalty."

Freckin' liar.

See this is what these right wing morons do. Take a stragety that was knowingly and purposely devised and set up by the Republicans to defeat their Democratic opponent by using the "tired & true" inbred fear and racism of White people who hate and fear Black people in order to get them to vote and people like this Kevin-1222 asswipe, who acts like a grown azz, naive & inept child (thinking that he is smarter than you) in trying to bait you into a useless and unnecessary racist debate and dialogue about Blacks vs Whites with an issue that never was a concern by and of Blacks anyway...Willie Horton?..who give a shit?...It was all a political ploy by Republicans to promote fear, angst and scare gullible White people to the voting booths.

"Oh my dear Lord! There is a n*gger on the loose! Grab your kids, get your gun and lock your doors!..BUT BEFORE YOU DO, DON'T FORGET TO VOTE!...pure southern stragety politics.

President George H.W. Bush (also with the help of his son, George W. Bush) and the Republicans devised and created the Willie Horton stragety.......Black folk never did concern themselves and could care less about Willie Horton. He was a convicted criminal in prison and no Black American in this country ever heard of him or even cared at all about him. Willie Horton was all "playing the race card" by White politicans and the precise impact of racially coded images, words and phrases. It was a racialized message coming from traditional White political studies that focus on pictorial racial cues "the infamous Willie Horton, the scary Black man" ad or on messages with an extensive textual narrative that is laced with implicit racial cues.

Nice try, Kevin-1222. Haven't you learned by now that your. B.S. here on is weak?

Go back to your right wing blogs where you are "convincing".

Last edited by Cholly
I heard it as part of a discuss on TV as I was flipping through the channels, and I over heard some associates using it in casual conversation. When I looked it up on line, I didn't see anything that portrays him as being a victim of anything; just an example of somebody worthy of the death peanalty.

Many of us here are a little too smart for the straw man crap, Kevin.  There has been much written about Willie Horton over the decades, but you'll have to find & post some links if you expect to argue that anyone finds him to be a "victim" of anything.  Or, a representation of "black victimization" of any kind.  Since you claim you "often hear it," then there should be plenty of links somewhere for you to choose from.  

In my many years of living since the WIllie Horton thing happened, the only people I've ever heard described as "victimized" in association with the Willie Horton story are 1) his murder victims and 2) Michael Dukakis.  Dukakis was white.  I don't know if the murder victims were black or white.  

Spare us any further posts on this subject not accompanied by links and linked quotes expressly referring to Willie Horton as a victim of white racist oppression.
Really?  Where'd you hear that?

Yeah, that's what I'd like to know.

The image and the criminal behavior of Willie Horton was used by George Bush, Sr. to perpetuate the most vile stero-type of Black males in this country and to ingrain it in the minds of white Americans (during an election year); in other words, Willie Horton was used to carryout the usual racist propaganda campaign that republicans always use to win elections in this country.


PS:  Is someone else using Kevin 1122's screen name?  That question doesn't seem like anything he'd even need to be corrected on. 
PS: I someone else using Kevin 1122's screen name? That question doesn't seem like anything he'd even need to be corrected on.

Sunnubian, he posted that on Saturday at 8:47 at night (Eastern time) on a Saturday evening.  He was probably just really bored.  Because you're right, he usually at least puts SOME thought into his posts.  I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, figuring he had no plans for Saturday night, and he came up with that half-baked nonsense because he was bored and annoyed about it. 

Hey, it happens. 
Wow lot's of posts since yesterday; some constructive, some hostile (dang cholly chill out bro) It seems this stuff happened 20-25 years ago; a time before I was into politics, so the Bush sr Dukakis debates eluded me.

Over the years after becoming interested in politics I've heard the name thrown around here and there and just assumed it was one of many black victims that I've never heard of.

After hearing the name thrown out a couple days ago, I decided to look it up on line and saw nothing that should pertray him as a victim so I asked you guys to see if there were more to the story.

It seems Dukakis was running a state where murders were allowed to have a day off (furlow) from prison and go out and do what-ever, and Willie Horton was given this day off and decided not to return (Wow! bet nobody ever saw that one coming) at which time he decided to kill again, and George Bush sr and his team decided to use this crazy law against his opponent Dukasis.

I don't think I've ever heard of such a stupid idea, and IMO any politician who allows such stupidity on his watch should have that thrown in his face when somebody like Willie takes advantage of it to kill again; so I don't blame George sr and his team for using this against Dukakis, I probably would have done it myself if I were in his shoes.

The fact that Willie was a black man, and George Bush's base were white conservative republicans of the the 80's, I can see many of those people as making it a "scary black man" campaign (information I didn't get on line, but did get from you guys; thanks) weather that was George Bushes intention or not. Giving ole George the benifit of the doubt, I think he just wanted to get the upper hand on his opponent, he had nothing to gain by making black voters hate him, but even if that weren't his intention, sh*t kinda has a way of turning out that way sometimes.

As far as Willie being a victim, I never heard anybody say he was, that was just something I assumed because I was unfamiliar with the story.

Nobody else was using my screen name (sunnibian) the post was more of a reaction after hearing somebody spit his name out and me not knowing the whole story.

Anyway, thanks for the info, even though some of the posts were rather hostile; the positive ones did give me information that I couldn't find anywere else, again; thanks!



Kevin (1122)

Way to save face, Kevin.  

By the way, unlike Cholly, I don't really think there was anything wrong, or racist, or misleading about the Willie Horton ads.   A lot of people do, on the grounds that it uses a black man as a boogeyman (they do that a lot, and they used to do it even more, so the kneejerk reaction was understood).  The furlough program, while it was started by a Republican governor, has to be one of the stupidest things I'd ever heard.  For a slew of reasons, Dukakis was horribly unqualified to be president, and the Dems failure that year to field a reasonable candidate is one of the reasons we're in the mess we're in today.  

Here are both ads (along with commentary critical of the ads).
I just returned from a 'Student Leadership Development, Inc.' conference for college-level students in Pennsylvania.  Many were introduced to 'The Willie Lynch Letter' as a concept.

I was greatly surprised that college-level students had not heard of this societal tool of American Society.

Many of our children do not know, because we haven't told them.

The failure is not theirs.

The failure is ours.

We have the responsibility to fix it.

Thank you, KW4.


Jim Chester
The Willie Horton Ad and the Revolving Door Ad, the Youtube video about Willie Horton was intentionally used to win the election by Geroge H.W. Bush to defeat Michael Dukakis but as Mr. Turnipseed said in the video "you can no longer yell nigger, nigger, nigger in a crowded room like you could in the 60's. Today, you have to be more stuble"....and as it was then as it is today with the Tea Party and other White groups that continue to push the southern stragety agenda, the tactical use of and the psycholigical & politically theories of hate by the rich and powerful aimed squarely at their less fortunate White brethern had driven and still drives the psyche of this nation with them in regards to all Blacks & Hispanics and it continues to paint that psychological picture of who all Black people, as an entire community, no matter their education, morality, values or status: We're all "Willie Horton" in diguise biding our time and waiting to negatively harm, affect and attack White people.

For them, it does not matter who you are or what you are as a Black person, it's all just a matter of time and opportunity to become and do exactly what and who they think you really are and because of their intentional isolation from other races (by theiw own credence, the Tea Party and the Republicans) as a collective group and that constant racist rhetoric, it keeps them thinking in that paranoid way.

To them, in there way of thinking, there is no distinctions,  Willie Horton is all of us. Willie Horton is you, Willie Horton is me.

The fact that the Republicans who worked the Bush campaign asked and got permission from the woman who was raped to go on tour across the nation (and she accepted and got paid, which says a whole lot about her) and further sell the Black "fear and hate" experience: the fueling of the hate/fear message to an already conditioned scared & nervous White populace (and not any Black audiences in order to be "fair & balanced" for all Americans that President George H.W. Bush presided over) in order to keep driving the message home with an already mentally frightened and isolated community to hate and fear all Blacks is what I totally disagree with.

For all of American's citizens, he's tellin' you by using thes tactics that he does not give a damn about you at all as the President of this nation, You can't trust someone like that and the White people, who just can't help themselves because they have been conditioned to, continue to do so, especially today.

Just consider what''s happening today. The automatic "seconds & day after" hate and fear towards President Obama and not, as the Tea Party and the Republicans want you to believe that's it all about his policies and liberal issues/agenda, but the constant stroking and messaging  of the in-bred mental, physical fear and hate of Black people instilled in Whites that had been systematically passed down from generation to generation that steadily keeps them isolated and convinces an entire community to rail against their better political interests in all aspects of their lives because in their minds, being of White hue and in the majority instead of working for and having peace, equality and equal oppportunity for all people in this nation among all races is strictly taboo: a terrible and horrid reality even when, in this severe recession and times of trouble unlike any before in our lifetime, everyone (no matter the race) outside of the rich and powerful are all in the same boat in all areas of their lives and who put everyone there? The very rich and powerful people (including newcomers like Palin & Beck) who they blindly, religiously support and defend who want a second chance to do the exact same thing and dig them into a much, much deeper hole.

And who benefiting from all this? Not them, especially when financial prosperity is one of the main "individual freedoms" factors among White folk who monthly spend their government supplied unemployment checks, federal assistance and dwindling savings (since their have no jobs and lost their homes) in order to make right wing "talking heads" like Sarah Palin, go from being able to barely making it to 12+ million dollars in less than a two year span while they continue to remain isolated and influenced, scrape and struggle with hate, fear (the Willie Horton factor) to continue to keep them down and totally dependent.

The Willie Horton effect: the use of 24/7 racial hate and fear, behind the image of a Black face, (this time President Obama) continues today and it addressed and circulated in all forms, shapes and shades.

And White folk, to their wholly disadvantage, continue to fall for it. They either just don't get it, can't help themselves, in complete denial or don't understand what truly happening to them.
Last edited by Cholly
The Willie Horton effect: the use of 24/7 racial hate and fear, behind the image of a Black face, (this time President Obama) continues today and it circulated in all forms, shapes and shades.--Cholly

I agree with your intent.

This, particular, excerpt is indicative of some level of omission, if not missed perception.

The (correct) conclusions of Dr. Joy DeGruy-Leary are the significant results.

Her 'named syndrome' is the damning assurance of this philosophy.

Many, if not most, of the posters on this site are often in direct contention against the use of any concept, but 'color' be proffered as the identity of Americans of unknown African ancestry.

Often...adamantly so.

Go figure.


Jim Chester
Many, if not most, of the posters on this site are often in direct contention against the use of any concept, but 'color' be proffered as the identity of Americans of unknown African ancestry.

You know, when my 'unconventional' little Aquarius mind used to adamantly (stubbornly) stick to one particular conclusion while just about everybody else disagreed, my mother used to say, "Everybody (else) can't be wrong."  The unspoken subtext was that if everybody else thinks or feels one way, and I was the only one who thought another, chances were that the majority probably knew something I didn't ... or that I hadn't thought of everything when it came to reaching my conclusion.

And 'Mother knew best'.  At least, pretty much most of the time. 

Perhaps there's something you're missing, JWC, that makes you the only one who's right ... and the rest of us, who use this so-called "color" identity, wrong?? 

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