by William Skink
You can’t talk about economic inequality without talking about race, but up until now that is what Bernie Sanders has been doing, and white progressives love him for it. What white progressives don’t love, apparently, is uppity black activists stealing the spotlight.
James Conner is especially incensed, once again referring to these disruptive blacks as thugs:
Black racist thugs from the Black Lives Matter group stormed the stage in Seattle today, shoving Bernie Sanders away from the microphone.
This has got to stop. Every time BLM’s shock troops storm a progressive stage without resistance, liberals and Democrats appear weak and irresolute — and the Republican nominee in 2016 gains more votes.
Charge these BLM thugs with assault, throw them in jail, and throw away the key.
Charge the organizers with stupidity and cowardice, and never let them near another political event. Instead of saying “okay, you’ve got a few minutes,” they should have said “take one step toward that stage and you’ll be frog-marched to the nearest jail.” The organizers had to have known from the Netroots debacle that BLM was there to grab headlines by disrupting the event.
Will black leaders such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton denounce BLM’s attitude and tactics? Or through their silence will they become silent accomplices in their thuggery?
Taking a slightly less niggers-should-know-their-place approach, here’s Dan Brooks at his Combat! blog reminding us that protests are, by nature, disruptive:
On Saturday, protestors aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement shut down a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think police violence against black people is a huge problem that the United States is, for the most part, still ignoring. I think activism—particularly activism by protest—is by definition disruptive and unpopular. You know what reduced institutional racism in Ferguson? Rioting in the streets. So you cannot criticize an act of protest for being inappropriate, because that’s the point. You can, however, criticize a protest for being ineffective, and I question whether Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford achieved what they wanted on Saturday.
If what they wanted was to stop the Bernie Sanders rally, mission accomplished. The Senator from Vermont had just started to address the crowd when Johnson and Willaford took the microphone and said, “If you do not listen, your event will be shut down.” When the audience started booing, Johnson accused them of “white supremacist liberalism.” Then the protestors called for four and a half minutes of silence to symbolize the four and a half hours Michael Brown lay dead on the streets of Ferguson. More booing. Johnson and Willaford would not let Sanders have the microphone, and eventually the event was canceled.
It’s not surprising Sanders has a racial blind-spot. Vermont is, after-all, 94% white and relatively well-educated. But Sanders isn’t running a state-wide campaign—he’s running for president, so ignoring the racial component of economic inequality isn’t a good idea.
The Sanders campaign has finally acknowledged this by formulating and releasing Sanders’ racial justice platform. That, I would say, is a big win for the Black Lives Matters movement. From the link:
The platform, which has won praise from several prominent voices in the Black Lives Matter movement, focuses on different forms of violence against people of color in the United States: physical violence from law enforcement and extremist vigilantes, the political violence of voter suppression, the legal violence of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, and the economic violence of crushing poverty. Sanders lays out several proposals to address each form of violence, from passing “ban the box” laws to prevent hiring discrimination against people with criminal records, to outlawing for-profit prisons, to restoring the gutted protections in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Instead of getting all indignant, white progressives might want to remember that political movements are what produce political change in this country, and without these types of movements, white supremacist liberalism is what we get, like 16 destructive years of Clinton/Obama neoliberalism.
Black Lives Matter, as a movement, isn’t going away. Not when people of color disproportionately fill our prisons and are regularly being gunned down in American streets. Privileged white people simply don’t understand what it’s like growing up black or brown in America. We don’t fear for our life when we see sirens or experience the more subtle mechanisms of structural racism.
So a few thousand Sandernistas didn’t get to soak up the Bernie love in Seattle. Boo-hoo. Instead of angrily lashing out at these activists, white progressives might want to acknowledge that those activists actually accomplished something—they compelled Bernie Sanders to address their movement’s concerns with a policy platform.
Blacks commit 50% of the murders in the US.
Are you saying we let 40% (10% black population) go?
Nasty, Swede, nasty. There is so much more to heaven and earth than your philosophy will ever discover.
Very well reasoned piece here. Indeed white liberals are far more a problem than a solution, as MLK knew when he said he feared the quiet racism of the good people far more than the noisy racism of the bad ones. Something like that.
MLK also said we should judge someone based on their character rather than the color of their skin.
Justice should follow the same parameters.
With the full realization that this is probably an even more pointless comment than normal, Swede, you should really consider reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It might help you see that things are not quite as simple as you want to believe. She writes:
The more difficult answer—the more courageous one—is to say yes, yes we should be concerned about the behavior of men trapped in ghetto communities, but the deep failure of morality is our own. Economist Glenn Loury once posed the question: “are we willing to cast ourselves as a society that creates crimogenic conditions for some of its members, and then acts-out rituals of punishment against them as if engaged in some awful form of human sacrifice?” A similar question can be posed with respect to shaming those trapped in ghettos: are we willing to demonize a population, declare a war against them, and then stand back and heap shame and contempt upon them for failing to behave like model citizens while under attack?
A thoughful response would be what confines them in gettos when they’re basically free to move about.
I agree with you Swede that the black community has to be its own solution. As much as we might want to help and be useful, we cannot do for people those things that must be done for themselves. And the time for white guilt is long past. Neither you or I had anything to do with history.
But history matters. Destruction of the family unit, selective breeding, crackers and prison camps effect people, and those effects are passed on from generation to generation just as abusive fathers tend to breed sons who become abusive fathers until someone breaks the cycle. That is my take on what Alexander is trying to get across.
Some time, if you like movies, watch Antoine Fischer. Even if it is melodramatic and a bit syrupy, that is the message the movie carries, I think a good one.
Comment went to spam basket? Or did I lose it in transmission?
Thanks for reading! I urge you not to include the n-word in your description of my position, though.
Dan, I don’t think you’re a racist, and your post is well-written and reasonably argued. but this country still treats black people like niggers, even though us good white people are so nice as to be very offended at the use of that ugly word.
but even good white people get uncomfortable when blacks lash out, as this targeting of Bernie Sanders by BLM has clearly shown. luckily the Sanders campaign didn’t overreact, like some people want to see. you argued that it wasn’t effective, but I see it differently.
they forced themselves into a predominantly white space to be a presence, to be seen, to be heard, and in a small but not insignificant way they forced the Sanders campaign to adapt to that presence. if white progressives are that easily put off by the BLM movement, that doesn’t bode well for hollow Democrat pandering in the general.
Environment is a cause of character in individuals and in societies. What of environmenal justice? Isn’t restoring human habitat with a goal of providing reasonable protection from injury and death, potable water, sufficient nutricious food and adequate shelter a good place to begin directing resources?
Or is it necessary to discuss it further, have more conferences, and political policy statements with no clear intention of implementation anytime soon?
Ask Durango residents abouty the Federal Government’s character?
It appears EPA made a mistake. A nasty one. Gonna be a problem.
I am curious your opinion on the character of the mine operations who harvested the minerals and then left the cleanup to the taxpayers. Good capitalists? Lord knows how we hate them regulations.
If only we could dig up and convict the copper barons.
So then, you are in favor of regulation of mines, bonding, reclamation? Would you be willing to pierce the corporate veil and charge parent corporations for the pollution of subsidiaries?
I welcome this change in your outlook!
I dislike the demonization of an industry on the basis of what their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did.
So you suffer the illusion of progress? What, pray tell, has changed? if left to its own devices, industry will extract minerals in the most efficient manner possible using the cheapest possible labor and will do no cleanup or reclamation on a voluntary basis. Stockholders demand no less. It can be no other way.
Not necessarily true Mark.
Why does Exxon sponsor the clean up of the Potomac? When it doesn’t have too.
Exxon’s job is to serve its stockholders first. Nothing it does is for charity. Nothing. If it appears to be charity, there is some other angle. For me the key here is the river, the Potomac. It seems oddly located. +
Mark, your inability to see the whole portrait never ceases to stupefy.
Hey, you bozos: can a Sanders/Murray ticket beat a Trump/Mia Love ticket?
It is interesting how, after eight years of neoliberalism which looks oddly like neoconservatism, you jump right back in the cycle for another dose of partisan campaigning, the result of which cannot possibly be different than the previous cycles.
And then call other bozos in the process. My mouth hangs open.
Your being a mouth-breather surprises no one, Toke.
Having never met, I am surprised by thsi characterization. Most people view me as a handsome blue-eyed devil.
I’d love to see the evidence for that claim …
You had to know this was coming.
There is so much bs in your piece I hardly know where to start. It’s not all bs. But the bs is thick enough that the rest is lost. It’s a broad brush you are using and that in and of itself is hypocritical. Some Bernie supporters were angry. Some weren’t. I wasn’t. I was happy.
The crowd reaction had zero to do with racism, with indifference or with any issue. The reaction was because people came to see Bernie and here these people weren’t letting all the people in the crowd have what they came for. Were any black people in the crowd booing? I don’t know. That would require research. But my bet was yes. Because that’s what people do when there expectations aren’t met.
Your piece is about as well researched and well thought out as the average Greg Strandberg article. And about as original.
The sentence about Vermont and blind spot is particularly ignorant. Bernie grew up in New York City. He was part of the civil rights movement. Of course, since you’re not from Vermont, and since you have read next to nothing on Sanders, how would you know?
And that brings up movements. Movements, in and of themselves, are (ideally) focused expressions of social and/or political discontent. Focused discontent doesn’t equal social progress, it creates the conditions to bring about social progress. Movements haven’t ever changed anything. What movements do is create the circumstances, the situation to change things. Here in this country things were changed through electoral power. The 40 hour work week was legislated. The minimum wage was legislated. Why? Because a movement created so much discomfort and directed discontent that leaders were moved to respond.
Power never cedes power willingly. Bernie knows this. Which is why he is simultaneously running an electoral race and a movement. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that in my lifetime. Explicitly running a movement and a political campaign. It’s likely Bernie will lose the campaign, but he could still win the movement. He could focus all that political/social discontent. And, if we work hard and are lucky, he just might win both.
Bernie wasn’t angry at the activists who took over his rally. He was happy because most black people in this country have a blind spot when it comes to Sanders. After all, most black people have never lived in Vermont, and most black people don’t have a clue (just like most white people who don’t live in Vermont) who Bernie Sanders is. This was a good day for Sanders, even if his crowd felt disappointed. Many more black people know about Sanders now than did before. And if they take a deeper look, they will find a guy who has actively fought for social, economic, gender, and racial justice at almost every turn throughout his entire life.
Who would you support for President? Who would you go knock on doors for to help get them elected? Anyone? No one? The Woman from BLM? Would you support and work for her to become President? Who? Who is your candidate? What movement are you a part of? Any?
The way Bernie handled the BLM interruption was really well. He showed himself to be the smartest person in the room. Certainly smarter than James Conner. But that’s not so surprising.
I appreciate knowledgeable criticism of Sanders. After all, he’s a human being and human beings aren’t perfect and if one is running for president, citizens need to talk and vet and dig and think and decide if this person makes sense to them. I’d like to ask Sanders his thinking on the American coup in Ukraine and the sanctions.
Oh, I just noticed Bernie is up by 7 percentage points over Hillary in New Hampshire. Looking good!
Jeebus, lizard, they’re playin’ you like a fiddle! But hey, “you’re still young. that’s your fault, you have so much yet to go through”!
This fat little half black, half white twit has tea party parents and she is a born again Christ Stain. Stop and THINK for a moment! Bernie has creds. What are the fat chick’s creds?! Teabagg parents??? Bein’ a ChrisStain??? What? Where did SHE march??? Where did SHE get arrested? Where are HER creds???
This entire blm movement has been freakin’ DESIGNED to take out Sanders! I know that you’re too young to understand this, but THINK for a moment! Is the black dealy the ONLY important issue facing the country? Apparently it IS to ignernt white dudes like you! You’re not racist, just stooopid! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! They’ve got a few ignernt morons like you doing the dirty work for the fascists you so vehemently rail against. Come ON, dude! Grow UP! This entire blm is simply designed to divide Dems even further, but I don’t think that it’s gonna work. For if you read the comment section ANY place but here, you’ll see that MOST folks ain’t buyin’ this bullshit.
Now, can we get back to REAL issues?!
Here’s a NOTHER black radical with the fat chick’s same message. YOU of all people should LUV him! too funny.
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