Sharron Angle, David Vitter's illegal aliens not quite illegal, photographer says
Sharron Angle's commercials have been creating quite a stir lately. Her latest accuses Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of giving child molesters Viagra.
But it's her "Thanks, Pal" illegal immigrant commercial, that has a GQ writer and photographer calling foul.
In the ad, a menacing photo of "illegal aliens" stares out in black-and-white from the screen.
The photo also showed up in advertising for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), with the words "Benefits for Illegals" scrawled beneath the three mens' faces.
Only the photographer says the men were not illegal and had not immigrated to the United States at the time the photograph was taken.
The town, Floyd said in a phone interview, is used as a staging post for people who plan to immigrate into the United States illegally. "The entire economy of the town revolves around migrants and their needs. People are buying backpack, water, flashlights, everything you could possibly need to get through the desert."
Floyd tried to take some portraits, but few people were willing to comply. One group of three men finally agreed, but they did not give their names.
They were farmers who had traveled from the far south of Mexico after their entire crop had failed and they were left with nothing to sell. They hoped to cross the border, but Floyd said he never knew if they did.
At that point, "It was a picture of Mexicans in Mexico."
Floyd said as well as using his photograph out of context, he was uncertain how the photograph had been obtained and questioned the legality of the image's use in an advertisement.
It is available on the Getty Web site, but Floyd said it could only be used for editorial work and the purpose of the commercial is clearly advertorial.
The caption for the photograph clearly identifies them as "Mexicans pose for a portrait whilst gathered in the town square of Altar, Mexico." The key words for the photograph do not use the term "illegal," but they do use the term "Mexican Ethnicity."
Critics of Angle have complained the ad is racist. "In its naked appeal to racial animus against Latinos, it rivals the infamous 1988 'Willie Horton' ad deployed against Michael Dukakis," Adam Serwer wrote on the Post's Plum Line.
Bhattacharya sent Floyd the photograph last night after making the connection. "It made me incredibly angry." Floyd said he finally understood what Jon Stewart meant when he said that American politics was akin to people shouting at each other in a wind tunnel.
Sharron Angle has not responded to a request for comment.
| October 8, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
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