Haha What?

A liberal activist blogger conference apparently interrupted Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. I wasn’t there and didn’t really follow the rabid tweeting, but got the gist that it was because these candidates ignore Black issues. I went looking for more comprehensive subsequent coverage and found some hilarious stuff, specifically around Bernie Sanders. Let us review.

David Dayen interviewed what appears to be the leader of the planned interruption, Tia Oso, and posted this transcript. Here is the first substantive question:

Q: And Sanders kept pivoting to an economic critique?

A: Because that is a more comfortable space for him. But if you really want to talk about economics, do you want to talk about incarceration, do you want to talk about defunding the public sector, do you really want to talk about, oh job creation. There’s plenty of jobs! Right? We’re in America, it is never just anything without the context of white supremacy it’s never just anything.

Let us go through the points one by one.

  1. Incarceration — Here’s Bernie Sanders last month: “From Ferguson to Baltimore and across this nation, too many African-Americans and other minorities find themselves subjected to a system that treats citizens who have not committed crimes as if they were criminals and that is unacceptable.” Here’s Bernie Sanders last year (a quote featured on his campaign website): “The United States has more people in jail than any other country on earth. Yet, somehow, none of them are the Wall Street bankers whose illegal activities caused the global economic collapse and destroyed the lives of millions of Americans. The huge Wall Street banks are ‘too big to fail.’ The leading bankers are ‘too big to jail.’” Here he is in June, when advocating creating 1 million youth jobs with public money: “If current trends continue, 1 in 3 black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime. This is an unspeakable tragedy.”
  2. Defunding the Public Sector — The socialist Sanders is weak on funding the public sector? Is this serious? Where does one even begin? Maybe his proposal to make public colleges free by increasing public funding? Perhaps the jobs program in the prior paragraph? I mean, really?
  3. Job Creation — I love this so much, it’s worth quoting again (read it in the sarcastic voice) “do you really want to talk about, oh job creation. There’s plenty of jobs! Right?” Does Bernie Sanders really want to talk about job creation? It’s all he talks about. The fact that job creation and similar economic topics is mostly what he talks about is the supposed racial critique!

It somehow gets worse with the next and last question:

Q: Do you know that he worked for SNCC?

A: He tells everybody! Every time he’s in a conversation about black stuff, he says all the time, I said when he came out, he’s going to say I marched with your daddy and your mama, that’s what he wants to talk about. But SNCC is still around, are you funding it? Are you funding black student organizing right now? Are you funding the movement building that’s still continuing? The Voting Rights Act was repealed and gutted. Right now, what are you doing? What are you going to do? You want to be the President right now. I don’t want to hear about what you did? And by the way, what you did was not the end. We have to get out of this idea that it’s already established that I deserve to be the President. I’m a white man, that’s how we roll here. And we gave you Barack Obama so let’s just get back to business as usual. No! Your agenda needs to be correct and if it’s not correct we’re going to continue to have problems.

Let’s review:

  1. Voting Rights Act — Here’s Sanders after the Supreme Court’s recent (good) districting decision: “Today’s Supreme Court decision is an important step in the fight against voter suppression. When congressional districts are controlled by partisanship it is bad for voters and our democracy. Allowing non-partisan commissions to draw district lines will help combat the hyper-partisan gerrymandering we have seen in some states. We still must go further—it’s time to restore the Voting Rights Act, expand early voting periods and make it easier for people to vote, not harder.” I recall this statement because it was apparently what prompted Killer Mike to endorse him.
  2. He doesn’t donate to black student organizations. — This winds up being the only thing that survives the rambling interview, and it’s hilarious. Bernie Sanders is bad on race because he isn’t donating money to organizations? That’s what we expect of a presidential candidate, personal funding of organizations? This line tends to make more sense when used to critique old civil rights figures, which is where the line was originally dreamt up and applied. Less clear how it is supposed to apply to a presidential candidate.

I finished reading this interview and I thought: alright, whatever, that’s you know a bad interview, let’s see some thought out written arguments. And this was the first thing I came upon:

At times he plunged on, talking over the protesters as if they weren’t there. While he is largely a supporter of civil rights and is, in general, right on the issues of the Black Lives Matter movement, he came across as a self-important know-it-all who has better things to do than to listen to uppity black kids who are disrupting HIS speech. In the end, he took off his microphone and left the stage without as much as a wave to the audience.

Or, to put it in Mark Halperin terms:

  • http://stevewhetstone.com/ Steve SanFrancisco

    @R F Latta,

    you might be intererested in the work of neuroloscientist, linguist and protegee of Noam Chomsky named George Lakoff. George Lakoff teaches out of Berkely University and studies framing in politics and political discourse. He’s often brought out as a counter to the Luntz, who runs the republican propaganda strategy and word usage guidelines.