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Within mere hours of Hillary Clinton announcing her long-anticipated bid for the 2016 presidency, anti-Clinton street art began cropping up in the vicinity of her Brooklyn Heights campaign headquarters.

The posters and stickers in question feature Clinton’s face in black-and-white, somewhat in the style of a “wanted” poster or mugshot. At the top, they read “Don’t Say …” and at the bottom they complete the provocative sentence with either “entitled,” “ambitious,” or “secretive” — all unflattering adjectives that have been used to describe the politician throughout the course of her career.

This inflammatory counter-campaign is a dig at Clinton’s defenders, who have argued that many of the accusations levied against the presidential hopeful are steeped in sexism. In particular, the posters represent an attack on the so-called “HRC Super Volunteers,” a group of Clinton supporters who have pledged to monitor media coverage of her campaign with an eye toward rooting out the insidious misogyny that characterizes many popular depictions of female politicians. “Polarizing,” “ambitious,” “entitled,” and “over-confident” are just some of the criticisms that the HRC Super Volunteers have identified as sexist.

The HRC Super Volunteers — and the disgruntled posters — come at a time when the question of policing language is a topic of heated debate in America: as the left has become increasingly attentive to the harms inflicted by racist or sexist language and the attendant need to speak with greater sensitivity, the right has lamented what it takes to be a stifling conversational climate. A slew of recent articles to this effect expose a splintering left, unsure how to criticize expressions of racism and sexism without forbidding them.

But to condemn sexist speech is not necessarily to ban it: there is a difference between censoring a chauvinist and confronting him with well-reasoned arguments as to why he might want to refrain from using certain words or engaging in certain activities. The issue is not as clear-cut — as black-and-white, as it were — as the posters would have it. I choose not to use offensive language not because I’ve been policed but rather because I’ve been convinced.

It remains to be seen whether the HRC Super Volunteers are calling for censorship — for the sort of “Don’t Say” denounced by the anti-Clinton posters. They may well dissect the ways in which certain portrayals of her are sexist with nuance and panache.

In the meantime, all we know for sure is that the offending posters aren’t the only design faux-pas to follow Hillary’s big announcement — her campaign logo has been met with disappointment and criticism.

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Becca Rothfeld

Becca Rothfeld is assistant literary editor of The New Republic and a contributor to The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Daily News’ literary blog, The Baffler, and...

14 replies on “Anti-Hillary Clinton Street Art Surfaces Near Her Brooklyn Campaign HQ”

  1. “A slew of recent articles to this effect expose a splintering left, unsure how to criticize expressions of racism and sexism without forbidding them.”

    Funny, no one has ever seen these articles. We have seen plenty of speech suppression from the left however.

    1. It’s funny how people who see criticism from people who are left (there is no uniform left) as suppression. Sounds paranoid, perhaps the reality is that criticism has long been suppressed by people purporting to speak for “the left” and they’re uneasy with people who don’t agree.

    2. Yeah, to hell with those “leftist” elitists and their whitewashed history books, or those “lefty” governors outlawing the term “climate change” from official language! Care to elnighten us with any other examples of “speech suppression from the left”? Take your time…I’ll wait.

        1. Lol…so feminists taking issue with statues is speech suppression? What would that make Christians taking issue with, i don’t know, evolution in schools, Harvey Milk on a stamp etc. etc.? Protesters chanting about dead cops…that might be the opposite of speech suppression. The tumblr for outing racists, that’s not speech suppression, big guy, that’s being called out for being a racist. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from criticism or reactions. Not gonna argue with Obama’s terrible record with the press, however, that’s still not suppression/censoring of speech, that’s just being shitty at transparency; not to excuse it, but you’re grasping at straws…ACTUAL speech suppression means preventing the teaching of evolution in public schools, interrupting Wiccan opening prayers at community board meetings, threatening of jobs if “climate change” is mentioned, rewriting history books to downplay slavery, native american genocide, blocking gay legislators from speaking because they’d be in “open rebellion against God’s law.” etc. Who’s behind all that? I can happily provide citations to all these, but I’ll let you do your own research…

          1. You’ve defaulted into a cartoonish worldview of believing that I must be some kind of right-winger based on my comment. Sorry, but I’m not in favour of any kind of censorship, regardless of where it comes from.

            You seem more focused on Government censorship. Communist governments are not exactly beacons of free expression, so it’s not as if the ‘left’ is exempt from discussions of suppressing speech.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship_in_Cuba
            “Censorship in Cuba is the most intense in the western hemisphere.”

            Your defense of Obama is pretty telling though, there’s no need to go into that, as your own comments say it all.

            I’ll just note that sending death threats to users for uploading Youtube videos, attacking public art, and tracking down the employment of people who say ‘undesirable’ things in public in order to get them fired, are forms of censorship. All of which I posted came from the left.

          2. Well, communists countries are irrelevant, so I’m not even sure why that would even be part of the conversation if we’re talking about censorship in America, (but fine, yes Cuba censors like crazy, but so do middle eastern countries, which could hardly be called leftist/liberal etc.). As for my supposed defense of Obama, I think I explicitly made it a point NOT to defend him and his terrible record with the press…Finally, regarding your idea “that sending death threats to users, attacking public art, and tracking down people who say ‘undesirable’ things in public….come from the left.” Is completely ridiculous…Sure, everyone engages in petty levels of it to a point (it IS the internet age, after all), but to the degree of getting violent, you need look no further than ISIS; extreme example, I know, but for the purpose of illustrating a point, you can’t get any further right wing than they, and they also happen to be engaging in exactly what you describe: destroying public (ancient/historical) art, public execution of undesirables (like gays and apostates) and declaring a new jihad with every blasphemy they come across…anyway, this might be getting to the point where it goes in every which direction, so, agree to disagree, or not, whatever….

  2. In terms of “sexist” bias, why does this article not choose to mention that she was depicted with an exaggerated and crazy amount of wrinkles. Isn’t that a key element of the posters’ aesthetic positioning? Just thought it warrants some analysis.

    1. Note her eyes as well. I think the attempt is to make her look reptilian or at least not-human, not so much old.

  3. The Clintons are straight up gangsta criminals, just like their crony counter parts- the Bushes. If you do not know they are not in the same camp, then you are not paying attention at all. These posters have nothing to do with this ridiculous accusation of sexism. Clinto supports unilateral war, warrantless wire tapping, the NSA, and she supports Monsanto GMOs because she is in their pockets- just to name a few. While the peasantry is mired in these asinine debates (which politicians like Clinton benefit from) their elite corporate bosses are completely destroying our futures by proxy of their willful puppets like Clinton and every single other candidate, Republican and Democrat.

  4. I’m not terribly enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, but honestly, are there any presidential candidates who are *not* ambitious, entitled, and secretive? Why attack her, specifically, for displaying those traits?

    More broadly: Can we stop approaching politics in terms of personalities, and start thinking more about policies? I’d be more interested in posters questioning her support for pro-corporate policy concepts.

    1. The posters are not an attack on her, they are an attack on her Speech Police supporters who want to censor words they believe are misogyny code language.Your point about questioning her support for pro-corporate policy concepts is valid. Except that the HRC Super Volunteers may label your concern as code for sexism. “Policy concern = code word for sexism. ”
      See? Easy!

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