Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Fitting Sanders For A White Sheet

Stupid questions- or good questions in the wrong context- yield stupid responses.  I'm not speaking of Charlie Pierce, who liked the question while recognizing "But it was the question that was the story. Can you imagine asking that same question of the four remaining Republicans? Can you imagine the reaction of the people in the audience if anyone asked?"

That is why it was a waste of time (other than for the over-heated reactions by surrogates) when CNN's Don Lemon at the Flint debate decided "to ask both of you again. In a speech about policing, the FBI director James Comey borrowed a phrase saying, “everyone is a little bit racist.” What racial blind spot do you have? "

This is not nearly as useful a question to ask Democrats as to ask of Republicans. (It wouldn't be so now, given they have been forewarned.) For Democrats, one might ask, about one topic or another: "And how do you propose to pay for all of this?" to which a legitimate answer probably would follow.

Nonetheless, Lemon did ask it, because asking about feelings is always an attention-getter, and somewhere there is a potential employer still sufficiently foolish to ask "what are your weaknesses?" It is not the responsibility of job-seekers nor political candidates to implicate himself revealing their own limitations..

Clinton gave her answer first, after which Sanders offered a response I didn't much notice at the time, given that it truly was unremarkable,

Jonathan Capehart noticed, however.in part slamming Sanders' response as being out-of-touch with "people of color," whom those familiar with the English language recognize as "colored people," justifiably considered a prejorative term.   The Senator, in full, stated

Well, let me just very briefly tell you a story. When I was in one of my first years in Congress, I went to a meeting downtown in Washington, D.C. And I went there with another congressman, an African-American congressman. And then we kind of separated during the meeting. And then I saw him out later on. And he was sitting there waiting and I said, well, let’s go out and get a cab. How come you didn’t go out and get a cab?

He said, no, I don’t get cabs in Washington, D.C. This was 20 years ago. Because he was humiliated by the fact that cabdrivers would go past him because he was black. I couldn’t believe, you know, you just sit there and you say, this man did not take a cab 20 years ago in Washington, D.C. Tell you another story, I was with young people active in the Black Lives Matter movement. A young lady comes up to me and she says, you don’t understand what police do in certain black communities. You don’t understand the degree to which we are terrorized, and I’m not just talking about the horrible shootings that we have seen, which have got to end and we’ve got to hold police officers accountable, I’m just talking about every day activities where police officers are bullying people.

So to answer your question, I would say, and I think it’s similar to what the secretary said, when you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor. You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car.

And I believe that as a nation in the year 2016, we must be firm in making it clear. We will end institutional racism and reform a broken criminal justice system.

Salon's Amanda Marcotte approvingly linked to a post by Vox's German Lopez, who contended that the Vermont senator "seemed to characterize all minority Americans as impoverished." Lopez linked to Reid twittering "most African-Americans are not poor. The AA poverty rate is too high, of course, at about 28%, but that's not most or all."

The "AA poverty rate" to which Reid referred is not that of Alcoholics Anonymous but  of African-Americans.

It isn't surprising that the successful and well-paid Reid, an MSNBC contributor, takes offense at the idea that poverty is a problem plaguing African-Americans. She lives and works amongst individuals largely affluent, whether they are black, hispanic, Asian, or non-hispanic white. The people with whom she associates are much more likely to be white and affluent than poor and black and she may nott like being seemingly lumped in with poor blacks.

But of course, as Benjamin Dixon notes (video below), she and Capehart are generally not experiencing what far too many black Americans experience. Most of those difficuties escape the financially fortunate, who are loathe to acknowledge that class plays at least as important a role in society as does race.

Also taken aback by Sanders' linkage of blacks and ghettos was Capehart, who tweeted "He knows that all Black people don't live in ghettos, right?"

Well, yes, Bernie certainly knows, inasmuch as being a member of Congress for 20+ years exposes oneself to many prominent black people, such as Capehart and Reid. However, his experience, whether as a youthful civil-rights activist or more recently in government, has enabled him to understand that the issues facing many blacks go beyond race and that being poor and black is more problematic than being affluent and black.

Yet, Sanders does recognize the disadvantage of being African-American in a white-dominated nation. It is the purpose of his cab story, which Capehart virtually dismisses, notwithstanding that prosperous blacks have for years emphasized the indignity (and inconvenience) of skin color when they tell of being bypassed by a cab driver for no reason other than skin color.

Capehart argues that Sanders has a "shallow knowledge of African Americans compared to Clinton" because he represents a state in which blacks are only 1.2 percent of the population. Oddly, he also slams the Senator's admission "that he doesn't understand what police in certain communities" as being "more damning than you think." The contradiction escapes him.

"Democrats," Capehart inists, "know how to talk to people of color, especially African-Americans." (The first thing might be not to refer to them as "colored people.")  Because Mrs. Clinton does and Sanders- allegedly- does not, we "also see who the true Democrat is. It's not Sanders."

The ability to say what someone wants to hear- less generously, for a politician to be able to fake sincerity- is an odd criterion for genuiness.   If Sanders is unable to communicate with blacks, it's not for lack of trying, and sometimes the failure to communicate is a fault of both parties, or neither. Additionally, although Sanders hasn't been effectively connecting with African-Americans, he evidently is getting through to some people, including a few Trump supporters. They, too, vote, even though their economic status is beneath that of the likes of Capehart and Reid.

Capehart gives it all away when he concludes with a wish that votes from African-Americans "will clinch the Democratic nomination for Clinton and hopefully secure the legacy of the nation’s first black president."  He does not suggest that a President Clinton would reduce income inequality, provide greater opportunity for blacks, or reduce inter-racial tension.  He does not suggest a Clinton 46 presidency would provide lasting peace to the Middle East or at least stabilize the region, or bring a needed sense of proportion to the Pentagon budget. And fortunately he is not so disingenuous as to suggest Clinton is the Democrat more likely to prevent another Great Recession brought on by the financial services industry.

No, Jonathan Capehart, realizing that Mrs. Clinton has tied herself securely to the hip of President Obama, expects that the election of the former Secretary of State would "secure the legacy of the nation's first black president."

What President Obama has done, President Obama has done, most good, some bad. The legacy, however, refers specifically to how something is viewed; it is not necessarily reality, but perception. Most of us wished Mr. Obama would be a great President, and still that the aftermath of his policies prove favorable. Promoting a president's legacy is better left to the destructive Grover Norquist, whose Ronald Reagan Legacy Project has convinced much of the country that he was a good, even great, president.   It is unbecoming, not unlike pushing the idea of Bernie Sanders as insensitive to the interests of black Americans

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