Yesterday I criticized Moira Donegan for claiming that Bernie Sanders "was publicly dismissive toward Black Lives Matter activists who expressed concern over his approach to racial issues."She had written
Sanders, meanwhile, speaks about the struggles of the working class in reductionist and retro ways; he seems to hold an anachronistic understanding of the American worker as white and male, oppressed only by his bosses and not at the same time by the structures of racism and sexism. Sanders has made, and continues to make, tone deaf statements on race in particular. He dismissed voters who want to see themselves in their politicians as trafficking in “identity politics”, and was publicly dismissive toward Black Lives Matter activists who expressed concern over his approach to racial issues. He seems to have tolerated a gender pay gap and some truly repugnant sexual harassment in his 2016 campaign. But few scandals seem to stick to Sanders. Like Donald Trump, he has a base of hardcore supporters who will forgive him anything.
Her larger issue is encapsulated in the charge that "Sanders has made, and continues to make, tone deaf statements on race in particular." Donegan linked to an article which notes that the Vermont senator was asked (rhetorically, presumably) whether he represents "the face of the new Democratic Party." He responded
We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age. I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.
Avoiding discrimination based on inherited characteristics of sexual orientation, gender, age, or race: what a novel concept! For Donegan and others convinced there should be one, homogeneous face representing the Democratic Party, this must have been a radical statement.
Sanders suggests as a goal "a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for." Given that it's difficult to determine relative abilities of candidates, the term might be a proxy for experience and accomplishment.
Admittedly, the last Democratic President was thin on experience and on accomplishment when he was elected. Still, a candidate's record and views would be considered important- even determinative- in a normal political atmosphere.
In that environment, we'd acknowledge existence of the racial wealth gap, in which the average white family has been alleged to hold as much as 20 times the wealth of the average black family.Then, the wise measures proposed by Sanders (and Donegan's favorite candidate, Elizabeth Warren) to address wealth inequality would be widely applauded on the left. Certainly, President Trump and his party, whining about "socialism," have taken notice.
But this is no normal political atmosphere. One political party had been skirting around the edges of racial bigotry since the days of candidate and president 666, Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6),. and now has plunged headlong into racial bias with a side helping of misogyny, corruption, and provocation to violence.
Much of the other party, Donegan included, believes the notion of a non-discriminatory policy emphasizing the importance of ability and beliefs is "tone deaf." Indeed, some call it "tone deaf." Others may call it "the content of one's character." Times change, in this case not for the better.