Echoes of 68?

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274 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    I don’t think this is going to add up to much. BLM is on the side of the angels although i’m not sure about their tactics or if their goals are specific enough. Sander’s has some good points but is never going to get the nom. He’s a democratic socialist; he isn’t electable. Are the R’s going after the votes of the BLM supporters? Is Sanders a prominent Dem?

    This a long conversation on the Booman T site this discusses this issues. Lots of good points. Part of it is local to Seattle among other things.

    • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:


      That was a pretty good essay. I think he is spot on here:

      one level of miscommunication here is simple and straightforward. Supporters of Bernie Sanders are focused primarily on Bernie Sanders as a political candidate in a specific contest that is tied to a specific calendar and that has goals that are tied first to Sanders winning that contest and secondarily (as a fallback position) to preventing the Republicans from winning it. They tend to view everything through these filters and get frustrated when they perceive that #blacklivesmatter does not share their goals or care about potentially undermining them.

      Another level of miscommunication arises because supporters of Bernie Sanders perceive their champion as being excellent on the issues that blacks are supposed to care about, and they see themselves as allies of the black community. They certainly do not see themselves as adversaries or among the first dozen groups worthy of being the focus of protest and disruption. But, in the East Bay, at least, it was the liberal establishment, not rabid segregationists from Alabama, who failed the black community and this failure spurred the organized fight against police brutality. If you want to know why it’s so easy to find anti-white-progressive vitriol coming from black organizers on Twitter, for example, it’s because there has never been a sense of common cause or trust on this issue, going back to the very beginning.

      Now, I have some problems with Al Giordano’s take on this, primarily because he’s using “white progressive” almost as an epithet and painting with such a broad brush. Just because a segment of the white progressive movement has antagonized the black progressive community with their treatment of President Obama does not mean that it’s fair to characterize all or even most white progressives that way. So, I think Giordano needs to dial it back and reduce the polarizing effect of what he’s arguing. Having said that, the antagonism and lingering bad feelings are real:

      We do need bridge builders but I don’t know who they are. I worked for an organization that had a schism between the white and black progressives in the early 1970s and it was still going on in the aughts. So bad blood can get really bad and not recover.Report

  2. Roland Dodds says:

    Since I am basically a Sanders supporter, and have been going back and forth on this all day on Twitter, I will jump into this discussion.

    Like you mentioned, there is a lot going on here. Some of it is youth and their political movements not playing to the expectations of the older generation. There is also the honest disconnect Sanders has from understanding the BLM movement (an understandable disconnect in my opinion).

    I would also add that Sanders and his ilk don’t shut these protestors down like other candidates would. Trump’s speech in Arizona a month back had a number of protestors who tried to interrupt him, and in Trump style, he toyed with them and used them to make a point. Because Sanders believes the BLM should be in his camp, he allows them to take the stage and basically dominate it for the first 5 minutes. I don’t know how many candidates or their handlers would allow that.

    People keep asking on Twitter why these activists don’t target Hillary Clinton or Republicans. I imagine its because those campaigns are not going to allow them to steal the show like Sanders does. Unfortunately for Sanders, its probably going to keep happening.

    I am a white man of moderate means, so it will be interpreted as white-splaining, but I have always hated activists that try to do this type of thing. Even when I was on the hard-Left and saw this a lot in my university days, my liberal tendencies always trumped my politics on speech. Especially seeing that they had the stage for 5 minutes, made their demands and received them, and then demanded more, I don’t know how anyone can support that unless they are a dedicated activist to said cause.Report

  3. LWA says:

    Part of politics is learning how to accommodate and make common cause with fellow travelers. Its Bernie who claims to be presidential timber, and if he can’t figure out how to reach an accord with a bunch of activists, this doesn’t bode well for his ability to handle the Republicans.

    And I say this as a Sanders supporter.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to LWA says:

      @lwa With that in mind, a candidate should not bend to activists if they are truly opposed to them. While many anti-War Dems were against the Iraq War, not many were willing to stand hand-in-hand with International Answer and World Can’t Wait, two communist front groups.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        The anti-Iraq War side was severely hampered by protest hijacking. It really wouldn’t have mattered, George W. Bush was going to lead us into the Iraq War, but the opposition would have had more appeal to the masses if the protests kept on strict anti-this war message rather than about American imperialism in general. Sometimes not saying everything you want to say is the best idea.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to LWA says:

      Part of politics is learning how to accommodate and make common cause with fellow travelers. Its Bernie who claims to be presidential timber, and if he can’t figure out how to reach an accord with a bunch of activists, this doesn’t bode well for his ability to handle the Republicans.

      Ironic, though, no? As Sanders entire career has been that of a purity troll (he’s technically not a Dem, remember) – but also being a team player and caucusing with the Dems on any vote that matters (except gun control)Report

      • LWA in reply to Kolohe says:

        Well yeah, exactly.
        If you can navigate the treacherous waters od Senate infighting among Blue Dog Democrats it can’t be that hard to find black activists who can join the Sanders stage and speak to the concerns of BLM, and effectively marginalize the ones who don’t have anything productive to say.Report

      • Kim in reply to Kolohe says:

        Sanders isn’t a purity troll. Kucinich was a purity troll. Sanders doesn’t get up on a soapbox whenever anything, anywhere isn’t absolutely perfect. He works with what he has, and he started his career as a socialist…Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    The a-holes who say that Jews are not a real minority and are, at best, a kind of really weird privileged white people piss me off. It might be true enough in the United States but it makes a mockery of everything we’ve been through. In the 20th and early 21st century alone; we had the continuing Dreyfus Affair, the pogroms of Russia and elsewhere including those that occurred after World War I, the Nazi Persecution, quotas and other informal acts of segregation in the United States and Canada for most of the 20th century, MENA pogroms and expulsions aimed at the oldest Jewish communities in the world, the Nazi persecution, and the persecutions of the Communist countries after World War II, and the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the early 21st century.

    It takes a special type of malevolence to say that Jews should be considered privileged white people after all we have been through. It reeks of having to want your cake and eat it to. They want to say to the Jews that we should support this or that because of our history but when we need help or support deny it because we are white and privileged.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I try to see privilege as a noun rather than an adjective. More importantly, I think it is something that exists along multiple vectors and which vary based on the context.

      So a Black guy has male privilege but lacks white privilege. A white woman has white privilege but not male privilege. Depending on the particular context, the Black guy may have more privilege or the white woman might or they might both enjoy relatively equal amounts of it. And this says nothing of contexts where it might be advantageous to be a woman or to be Black.

      To bring this to your comment about Jews and privilege, Jewish folk are no different in that certain aspects of their identity will give them privilege in certain contexts and other aspects will leave them marginalized. Their Jewish identity likely falls into the latter category.

      One of the oft-ignored issues with privilege (and racism and other related things) is that folks assume it is a choice. So even if a Jewish guy doesn’t identify as white, if he is perceived as white and therefore treated as white by others, he enjoys a certain amount of white privilege. When the cops approach his car with their guns holstered, as opposed to drawing them as they might with a Black guy, it doesn’t matter so much how he identifies as how he is identified. It doesn’t make the guy ‘wrong’ in any way. But it does mean that he enjoys some degree of white privilege.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy says:

        Privilege might be an noun ideally but people seem to treat it as an adjective rather than a noun in practice. A white heterosexual woman might have white and heterosexual privilege and lack male privilege but will usually get treated as completely privileged or not privileged in real life usually.Report

        • Chris in reply to LeeEsq says:

          but will usually get treated as completely privileged or not privileged in real life usually.

          What does it mean to “get treated as completely privileged or not privileged”?Report

    • veronica d in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq — All I ask is that people be honest about how their identity, both real and perceived, shapes their opportunities.

      I’m visibly transgender. That’s a big-fucking-enormous disprivilege. I’m also white-protestant. I come from a stable family, well positioned in the middle class. I went to a affluent high school, was in an accelerated learning program. So yeah, I’m privileged as fuck.

      Oh, but then I’m weird-brained and (probably) mildly autistic. I got no support for this in school.

      But then, I’m really freaking good at math.

      But then, I dropped out of school and never went to university, cuz a lot of reasons, some of which I couldn’t really control.

      So how do all my privileges and disprivileges play out?

      I mean, they matter. Being transgender is a big fucking deal. It affects everything. Like, OMG!

      On the other hand, I’m white. I’m middle class. I’ve managed to land a posh tech job.

      Stir it all up in a pot.

      Jewish people are not “white” the way I am white, but they sure ain’t non-white the way blacks and latin@s are non-white. (Unless of course they are non-white that way. Not all Jewish people are the same.) But my point is, if a black person tells you that you have “white privilege,” well, in a lot of ways you do, particularly if you live in area that is fairly decent to Jewish people. On the other hand, if your car breaks down in a shitty place, and if the tow truck driver recognizes that you are Jewish, and if he is an anti-semitic fuckwit —

      — yeah, then your privilege evaporates fast. There remain large subpopulations dedicated to hating you.

      Anyway, call it provisional white privilege. It’s there. It exists. It matters. But it can be taken away in the blink of an eye.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    A relevant essay on why many on the Left have a problem with the Jews as a minority:

    • Roland Dodds in reply to LeeEsq says:

      @leeesq Phyllis Chesler has a great book called “The New Anti-Semetism.” She argues, along with others, that when Israel defeated its neighbors by the late 60s, the Left turned on the Jews as a whole. Its more complicated than that, but the reclassification of Jews as “privileged whites” seems connected to that period.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        There is an undercurrent of modern progressivism that sees an underdog and immediately sides with it against the power it’s going up against.

        Prior to The Six Day War, Israel (and, by extension, people of Jewish descent) were underdogs.

        After The Six Day War, Israel (and, by extension, people of Jewish descent) were the power that the underdogs were going up against.

        Punching up/punching down ain’t just for comedy.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        For the really Far Left, it started when Stalin quickly changed is mind about Israel when he realized that Israel wasn’t going to end up a Soviet satellite in the Middle East. It became more of a party-line after the Six Day War.

        The real big catalyst for the change from Jews are persecuted minority to Jews are white privileged people seems to be the increasing importance of anti-Colonalism in Leftist thought during the 1960s. Before the 1960s, the Left opposed imperialism because colonialism sucked but it wasn’t an elaborate philosophy. The 1960s turned opposition to imperialism from a political program to an entire philosophy. The Anti-Colonialsits seemed intellectual incapable of placing Jews within the category of the dispossessed for a variety of reasons. This wasn’t the first time the Far Left struggled with what to make of the Jews. August Bebel’s great quote that “anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools” exist for a reason but the 1960s exasperated this.Report

        • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I don’t think that it did.
          After the Palestinians stopped mostly killing Israelis in the Intifadas, that’s when the tide really started turning.Report

        • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

          It might also have been after the small weak Israel enjoyed a series of significant military victories and acquired a captive non-Jewish population they have since been administrating over in a way that’s easy to uncharitably portray. It’s certainly strengthened as that State has continued inching incrementally towards an increasingly more overtly apartheid manner of behavior towards those people.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

            Realistically, what was Israel supposed to do with the West Bank, Gaza, Golan, and Sinai after the Six-Day War? From past experience, Israeli leadership knew that leaving the areas and returning them to Egypt, Syria, and Jordan without a formal treaty would only bolster the Arab hostility towards Israel. They would see it as a victory of their might and Israel would get nothing but a reprieve to build up again for the next Pan-Arab war against Israel and light to medium level violent harassment before the next war.

            Palestinian leadership, such as it was, would not negotiate separately with the Israeli government after the Six-Day War. Having only been formed three years earlier, they were still deep into their romantic revolution phase. Their goal was the destruction of Israel within the 1948 borders. The PLO was born to liberate Palestine in 1964, long before anybody knew that Gaza and the West Bank would end up in Israeli hands. Palestinian leadership also did not have enough of a mandate with the Palestinian people to enter into negotiations with Israel even if they wanted to. They were beholden to the other Arab governments for their graces.Report

            • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Other than the absolutely insane notion of allowing (let alone promoting) Jewish settlements in lands they ostensibly intended to trade away I have only minor quibbles with Israel’s behavior up until around the new century. As they’ve subsequently descended into despair, irrational paranoia and Bibi’s clown car jingoism I and many other left wing supporters have seen plenty of reason in the last decade to get very uncomfortable with the trajectory of Israel’s policies s any true friend of Israel should be.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                Allowing Jews into the West Bank and Gaza to live was a mistake but Eshkol had no idea what would happen. Eshkol allowed a small number of Jews to live in the land captured during the Six-Day War because he naively thought it would force the Arab governments to get realistic about Israel and realize that they would need to recognize Israel or forever lose their land. This was assuming that Gaza would go back to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. There was also a lot of emotion involving the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron, which was cleansed of Jews in 1929.Report

            • Kim in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Israel had a lot of money and power. Getting the Palestinians down to the bargaining table would have been merely a matter of throwing enough money at the problem.

              And, yeah, they should have either let the damn Palestine exist, or merge the territories into Israel proper, officially.Report

  6. Jaybird says:

    It makes me wonder “what happens the first time this happens to Hillary?”

    I mean, sure, maybe Hillary Clinton’s team has prepped her and prepped her *HARD* for something like this… but I still find myself wondering “What happens the first time this happens to Hillary?”Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Jaybird says:

      @jaybird I don’t think it happens to Hillary, at least not in a way where she is forced to respond like Sanders did. There may be a disruption at an event, but there is no way her handlers and the secret service are going to let a few activists take over the stage.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        That sort of strikes me as the kind of situation likely to result in a “don’t tase me, bro” moment.

        Though, of course, I might be thinking about how her handlers and/or the secret service do things incorrectly.Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to Jaybird says:

          It would also allow Clinton to parse her words carefully about the disturbance after the event concluded and she talked it over with her advisors. She would likely come out looking fine.

          Part of what looks bad for Bernie in this situation is that it makes him look weak and un-presidential. “If this guy can’t even control his own events, how is he going to be in office?” By trying to be inclusive and let the activists take the stage (and then subsequently walking off), Sanders didn’t win any fans.Report

          • Kim in reply to Roland Dodds says:

            Yeah, he should have stayed and spoken at the end, saying at least that he was glad to cede his time to “true activists” (or going back to his canned speech, that works too)Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      Does Hillary already have Secret Service security based on being a former SecState and first lady? I would think she does. If so that would explain why this doesn’t happen to her.Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      As I understand it it DID happen to Hillary. When it happened to Bernie he responded “I think ALL lives matter” and thus the trouble he’s having with BLM. When they confronted Hillary she said “Yes, of course Black Lives Matter.” and it’s mostly gone away as an issue for her.Report

      • Chris in reply to North says:

        Sanders didn’t say “All lives matter,” O’Malley did. So did Clinton, so the only “major” Democratic candidate (to the extent that there are major candidates besides Clinton) who hasn’t committed that faux pas is Sanders, actually.

        Clinton has actively courted the BLM activists, inviting them to events and even hiring a couple, but she has so far disappointed them in terms of policy and focus, from what I can tell.Report

        • North in reply to Chris says:

          Hmm I guess I misunderstood the dynamic then. Still, as far as I’ve seen they haven’t been disrupting HRC rallies.. then again is HRC really doing many big rallies right now? Maybe there’s simply a dearth of HRC events to disrupt.Report

          • Chris in reply to North says:

            She’s having occasional, smaller rallies, it seems, with nothing like the frequency or size of the Sanders rallies. Of course, she doesn’t have to spend money now, so you can’t blame her, but it does leave BLM with fewer opportunities to disrupt her. I also suspect that her campaign team, which appears to be significantly more diverse than Sanders’, with some folks from BLM or at least associated with it, would be better able to anticipate and accommodate a protest at one of her rallies.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

          Chris: Clinton has actively courted the BLM activists, inviting them to events and even hiring a couple, but she has so far disappointed them in terms of policy and focus, from what I can tell.

          You mean the person that doesn’t currently have a job in the US Government hasn’t bothered to change the system yet? What the hell is she waiting for?Report

          • Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

            There are 65 yellow keychain bottles in your tube socks.*

            *Nonsense that is as relevant to your comment as yours was to mine.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

              How can someone be disappointed by HRC policy if she hasn’t had a chance to execute any policy yet?

              (And I’ll say again, why isn’t there any focus on the person that actually has considerable power in this country right now, instead of people that might have power a full year and a half from now? Is it because when people heckle President Obama, other people always take President Obama’s side?)Report

              • Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

                Your right, candidates never talk about their policy solutions and/or priorities. It would be impossible to be disappointed in them for such things. (Seriously, are you being dense or just screwing around out of a desire to be silly? I can’t tell.)

                (If you want to know what BLM folks think about Obama and his moves in relation to their concerns, you won’t have a hard time finding that information.)Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

        One of the skills a politician needs to have is when to give the appropriate stock answer to a question rather than answer it honestly according to their personal beliefs. Sanders seems to need work in this area.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:


      Apparently, Hillary has had policy conversations with @deray as well.

      So it’s confirmed: she’s a lot better at this than Bernie is.Report

  7. Tod Kelly says:

    I may end up being the only one here saying this, but I actually think “Good on BLM.”

    I think their main point — that black activists are used as a tool of liberals & progressives during elections but are basically left out in the cold in afterwards because their issues fall so far down the list of what elected Democrats care about in office — is pretty spot on. I think that protesting Trump or Perry or Bush gets them nothing that they don’t already have, and probably makes it harder for them to be heard after a Democrat victory. I think protesting Sanders communicates pretty strongly that they already know that they’re going to get left behind after 2016 no matter who wins, and they’re no longer going to take it quietly. I think it’s long overdue, and I hope they start doing this at other Dem rallies.

    I sometimes wonder what would happen if the GOP jettisoned their old white crazy faction and decided to outflank the Dems on minority issues, especially since they currently seem to be slowly gravitating toward economic populism these days. It will never happen, obviously, but I think if they did it would be a winner for them.Report

    • I sometimes wonder what would happen if the GOP jettisoned their old white crazy faction and decided to outflank the Dems on minority issues,

      They’d lose most of their current supporters, in particular the ones who show up and vote in off-year elections, and put the solid south back in play.Report

    • greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      It’s good BLM is making loud very noticeable noises. They need to keep some focus on what they are working on. I’m not sure disrupting Sanders is the best choice, but i also don’t know how else they can get the kind of attention they are getting in D circles.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      If only there were a Democrat with any power right now somewhere in the US government.Report

    • Roland Dodds in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      @tod-kelly Maybe this will become the norm anytime any group or activist wants their issues to be addressed. Based on the results from the Sanders rally (the video of people just yelling at each other) does not bode well for a pluralistic, multi-cultural society. Do we really want to have every public speech one that can be hijacked by an activist with a cause?

      Something tells me the Right is going to learn from this tactic, and we will see more of it from the other side. Or maybe, these stump speeches become locked-down events where nothing outside the choreographed movements are allowed.

      Today, Sanders hired a BLM activist to his campaign and updated his website with a section on “racial justice.” Does that make this segment of the activist community content, or is upstaging Sanders in the future the ticket to more coverage for their cause?Report

      • greginak in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        Two protests and they get an activist hired. That is a win for BLM and the way issue groups make head way in parties.Report

        • greginak in reply to greginak says:

          Good for them.Report

          • Roland Dodds in reply to greginak says:

            The side effect is that it makes Sanders’ campaign look :
            1) like they never thought about this before they were forced to by a stunt .
            2) weak and in the pocket of activists that upstage him. Hot Air ran a piece today basically saying just that.Report

            • greginak in reply to Roland Dodds says:

              Well they hadn’t really thought about it. That is part of Sander’s problem. In the long run if he deals with BLM issues and people well this will be forgotten. If he trips up more then he has a bigger problem. There isn’t anything BLM is doing that all sorts of other activist groups haven’t done. They loudly get attention and let the pols they want to influence that either they respond or they will have problems. It’s not like BLM has giant lobbyist bucks like the NRA.Report

            • trizzlor in reply to Roland Dodds says:

              I think this is a case where Sanders should avoid taking advice from his enemies. The Hot Air readership is not his desired constituency. Moreover, if the same incident were to happen on the right (¡Jeb! gets disrupted by anti-immigration hard-liners, hires them on to his campaign) I’m certain Hot Air would not be spinning it as being weak and in the pocket. Sanders giving more respect to those on his left than they give him paints him in a positive light with the people he’s trying to mobilize – this is a primary after all.

              It remains to be seen what BLM does with this. Recent lefty movements have been very good about mobilizing/”creating space” and very bad at building on that awareness. I’m curious to see what happens next.Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to greginak says:

          True. It surely made Sanders work quick, so on a tactical level, they were a success.Report

      • Said a couple weeks ago he needed to hire a deflector. He may need two now, but, even then, I’m not sure the activists will be happy even if he consents to read speeches they write for him. Arguably, Sanders hasn’t read the political-cultural moment correctly, or he may simply be incapable of adapting to it.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Roland Dodds says:

        @roland-dodds I think the thing is, though, we’re not really talking about any old constituency. We’re talking about one that has a pretty long and specific history. Most white liberals I know think that racism is this thing that Republicans do — but most blacks I know think otherwise.

        I don’t know that threatening to disrupt the potential success of Democrats is necessarily the answer, but at this point what do I really expect them to do? Agree to continue to stay in the back and be quiet for — what? Another ten years? Another twenty? Some mythical time when the Democratic Party has all of it’s other much more important policy issues granted and then can finally deign to focus on the issues that are grinding African Americans into the dust?

        For me, the argument you’re making — which is one I’ve heard all my life on this subject — carried less weight in the 80s than it did the 70s, carried even less in the 90s, and by now (for me anyway) means close to nothing. I know that you don’t mean it this way, but the result of what you’re saying blacks should do will be the exact same result that’s occurred all their lives: The Dems will continue to gain victories, get donations, and amass both capital and power, often with the help and sweat equity of the black community, and blacks will get squat except for the occasional reminders of how much worse they would have it if those other white guys won — which means less and less every year.Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          @tod-kelly As much as I dislike political stunts of this type, those are a fine points. The fact that Sanders respond so quickly might actually mean its rather useful politically.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to Roland Dodds says:

            I may be projecting hear because of my fondness for him, but I suspect that part of why it happened so quickly is that Sanders was simply signing on to something he already believed.

            I will be somewhat interested to see if this document forces the press to get Clinton to cosign everything Sanders is saying, or if this will now become a Sanders-only issue in terms of coverage.Report

        • greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          In general i agree Tod, but it’s incorrect to say blacks have gotten squat. See the ACA for one big thing. What there hasn’t been progress on is criminal justice issues or things directly related to racism.Report

          • Tod Kelly in reply to greginak says:

            @greginak I may be relying too much on the anecdotal evidence of my own network, but I don’t know that policies that coincidently happen to benefit blacks as well as everyone else show up as “wins for the black community” by the black community — or at least, I don’t know that award too may non-style points for it. I think those types of policy victories often show up as something white people did for white people.Report

            • greginak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              I don’t disagree with that mostly. There is , however, a bit of a centrist trope about the D’s that they do nothing for all the minorities in their coalition. That isn’t true.

              They have done far less then they could and their is plenty of racism in the big ol D tent. Is the ACA considered a victory for blacks; no not really but it is. A big victory since it helps poor people get HI. That is a solid win. Health care is one of the big issues i care about. It has been a constant drum beat in the pro-uni care side that poor people should get improved access to health care facilitated by the government. You know who a lot of poor people are? You do know.

              The problem with the D’s is that they haven’t focused, laser focused like the press used to talk about, on issues of racism. They haven’t expended significant energy on issues that are solely about things affecting blacks. But its not like they haven’t been pushing on issues that affect various minorities like immigration or eliminating sentencing disparity regarding drugs.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:


              Pretty much what @greginak said. There was an NRO essay after the 2012 election where one of their editors expressed shock, shock, shock that Obama’s “free stuff” thing worked. So in the GOP, there seems to be a complete incomprehensibility that people like and might prefer the welfare state over a minimalist state with no safety net.

              I kind of do think that the GOP is filled with people who are sincerely selling what they are selling and they do think that their no affirmative action policy is the best for racial equality and they do sincerely believe in the boot straps stuff. The problem here seems to be psychological. We don’t know how to react when someone doesn’t want what we are selling. This is true for Sanders and BLM perhaps and it is true for the GOP and the fact that people actually like the Welfare State.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to greginak says:

            “[I]t’s incorrect to say blacks have gotten squat. See the ACA for one big thing.”

            Which sounds a lot like Republicans saying “a rising tide lifts every boat”.Report

        • Roland Dodds in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          @tod-kelly This event has likely struck a chord with many because of an unspoken reality that large American parties don’t want to recognize: ethnic and economic groups don’t share some grand political vision. The white working man does not share the same interests as his middle class counterparts, although we want to believe we all just want to “make America great again.”

          The same is true along race lines. White voters have their own set of interests that they want advocated, as do black voters. The difference being, as you noted, the black voter has had to join a coalition that often put their interests secondary.

          I am actually starting to think this political stunt was quite brilliant. If all it took was a few people yelling on a stage to directly influence what a candidate says, it will be a rather simple coup for the BLM movement.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly says:


      I think your view just as the GOP as being cynical people who want power for the sake of holding power.

      I don’t see how they can just shake off the crazy wing who might or might not be actual racists. There is also the law and order crowd, the police friendly crowd, a lot of their party still dislikes narcotic legalization. How about economic/welfare state issues/affirmative action. As far as I can tell, the BLM crowd still believes in the welfare state and an active federal government. The Paulian message that Big Government causes police brutality has not spread.

      So I think this is more complicated than you are making it out to be especially because BLM wants an activist government to end structural racism which they largely seem to thinks exists more at local and state level.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      Republicans are going to have to change a lot to outflank the Democratic Party on minority issues. They can’t just get the minority vote by dropping the racist dog-whistles, they actually have to offer something. The Democratic Party like other people pointed out does offer minorities something because the Democratic Party protects and even expands the New Deal or Great Society programs that help poor people and many minorities are in poverty. Most of the noise about criminal justice reform, especially that about minorities in particular, is in the Democratic Party rather than the more generalized noise in the Republican Party.

      Besides having the legacy of decades of race baiting, the Republicans have nothing to offer minorities. They are officially trying to dismantle all the policies that aid African-Americans and other minorities and replace them with nothing. A substantial number of them side with the police and courts in all criminal justice matters. Those that do talk about criminal justice reform, see it as a general police. Unless the Republicans completely change their party’s preferred policies, they can not outflank the Democratic Party on minority issues.Report

  8. Chris says:

    Since you’re confused about why they’re targeting Sanders, I know who you could talk to in order to get some insight.

    Perhaps a bunch of white folk speculating about the motives and reasoning a (mostly) black protest movement, with no apparent effort to talk or listen to the folks in that movement, might be an important clue, though.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:


      More to the point, how?Report

      • …I mean, they’re targeting a white progressive politician with almost exclusively white progressive supporters, and not being particularly clear from the outset why they are targeting him. I bet they’re actually clear that this is going to cause some white progressives who haven’t previously been in direct contact with them to try to puzzle through why they chose that particular target, and are okay with that.Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Michael Drew says:

          I was pretty sure they were going after Sanders for a few reasons:

          1) He’s a Democrat, he might actually listen.
          2) He’s high profile.
          3) They can get to him. They can’t get to Hillary that easily, I suspect.

          If I thought the organization was more professional than grassroots, I would add in a fourth point: They don’t want to cause problems for Hillary’s general election run. Pressuring Sanders pressures her to say/do something, without giving her image problems.Report

          • Chris in reply to Morat20 says:

            Your last point is a good one: recognizing that Sanders has absolutely no chance of winning the nomination, short of a complete implosion by Clinton, the entire point of his campaign is to shape the Democratic Party’s narrative, which is to say to shape Clinton’s narrative. Making the BLM narrative a central part of his is, therefore, an obvious goal.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Morat20 says:

            Both Chris and Morat here are hypothesizing just as much as any other liberals Chris is criticizing for trying to think through what’s going on.

            I would postulate that a big point of this is to try to get liberals to think about this, not trying to establish that liberals are derelict for not knowing exactly which Titter accounts contain reliable information about exactly why exactly what is being done is being done.

            So maybe we shouldn’t criticize people for reacting to what’s being done by trying to think through publicly what they’re seeing. (Or maybe we should.)

            If there’s clear information that someone isn’t aware of in their thinking, why isn’t the right thing to do to offer it up, rather than criticize someone for being at the “trying to reason this through” stage?Report

            • Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

              Both Chris and Morat here are hypothesizing just as much as any other liberals Chris is criticizing for trying to think through what’s going on.

              I can’t speak for Morat, but what I said basically comes from the protesters themselves (watch/listen to the YouTube video I linked elsewhere in the post, e.g.).Report

      • Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        Dude, I’m sure you know that the Black Lives Matter folks, from the most visible on “down” (though it doesn’t appear to be all that hierarchical, as a movement), are on Twitter and blogs and the rest of the internet all day, every day. That’s where the movement launched, and it is where it does much of its organizational and promotional work. If someone is afraid to actually reach out to them, it seems that reading what they say (and it’s not as though this is a movement filled with folks who are at a loss for words) would be a good place to start.

        And yes, I think they’ve been clear about why they’re targeting Sanders from the start. Which is why I was somewhat impatient about it here. Hell, they made points about it on stage at the rally Saul is talking about.Report

        • veronica d in reply to Chris says:

          @chris — +1Report

        • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

          I’m all for Twitter-based activism that is decentralized in structure.

          And so I’m obviously aware that they’re on Twitter. But that doesn’t mean I know where to go to get information that represents “the” reason they chose Sanders rather than Webb, for example. And I wasn’t aware they were clear about it (it being, why Sanders rather than anybody else, not why they were doing what they were doing in general) at either of the events themselves; maybe you can direct me to that.

          That doesn’t mean I or Saul can’t eventually figure through the answers. But I think it means there’s an interval where no one is doing anything wrong by being open about the fact that they don’t know the answer and are trying to think about what it might be.

          I notice you’re not actually offering up the obvious answer yourself. Granted, that would let us off the hook from doing the work. But it would buttress and argument that it is actually so clearly to be found on social media.Report

          • Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

            A little research would show that it was the Seattle chapter of an almost completely decentralized movement that made the decision to do this, that there was subsequently some debate within the movement about the wisdom of the protest, and that the Netroots protesters and their defenders have spilled much virtual ink on that particular protest.

            I would assume that before anyone decided why they do what they do, and certainly before writing a post about it, would do that little bit of research. Again, we’re talking about activists who are not trying to hide, or to hide their reasoning and internal dialogue. It may be the most out-in-the-open protest movement ever.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

              If they can be out in the open, I think Saul can be out in the open about not knowing and not really knowing where to look. Tbh, I’m not aware of a Saul DeGraw presence on Twitter. He wrote a post in which he admits he doesn’t know and is trying to think through it; it seems to me that we can respond by providing information we have that he doesn’t, or we can respond by just finding fault with his openness and not adding any actual information.

              As I’ve made clear in the past, I’m on team #LetSauBeSaul. For the rest of us, sharing information is more constructive than crapping on each others’ heads.Report

              • Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Eh, it’s not just Saul, though this is the second time he’s brought it up.

                Also, a Twitter presence is unnecessary. One must only have basic googling skills.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

                Yeah, I don’t think that’s true. A lot of people are saying a lot of things about it; it’s hard to determine what are the real reasons. Not impossible, but it’s messy enough that there’s nothing wrong with just saying, ‘Look, I’m not clear exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing.’ “Basic Google” doesn’t get you there. Frankly, I’m skeptical that you’re clear about it. You haven’t demonstrated that you are.Report

              • Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

                At least one person who was on stage at Netroots has written on the subject. At the very least, if one were serious about understanding, rather than telling the “economics vs race” story that other equally disconnected white “progressives” are trying to fit this into.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Well, here’s a Voxsplainer and a post for DailyKos and here’s one from The Daily Slant explaining “Why We Must Defend The Black Activists Who Interrupted Bernie Sanders“.

                The comments for the DailyKos post are worth reading as well. (There is a large chunk of the Progressive Left in the comments is communicating that they don’t understand BLM at all. Which, it seems to me, indicates that BLM still has a lot of work to do to get a large chunk of the Progressive Left to understand what it is that they are doing.)Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s exactly it. The confusion of white “progressives” only reinforces what the BLM folks are saying, and suggests that not only is it appropriate for them to target white “progressives,” but they need to target them more.

                I remember when Sterling’s racism first came out, Saul specifically just assumed he was a conservative. This is the same thing: if we assume that we’re all good on race, why would people talking about race target us? It must be because of a difference in focus (economics vs. race), because obviously we’re all good on race, right? Right?! Someone tell us we’re right!Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Well, the main thing that I’m gleaning is that the creation of the narrative regarding BLM is also decentralized.

                And that strikes me as being likely to result in less optimal best-case scenarios with most likely scenarios being somewhere around “Occupy Wall Street”.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                It is definitely decentralized in terms of organization, but the various nodes are communicating extensively, and constantly, with each other, such that the message they’re crafting is pretty standardized, and more importantly, they are learning quickly about what works and what doesn’t based on the experience of other nodes. Sanders likely wouldn’t have been confronted in Seattle if confronting him and O’Malley in Phoenix hadn’t been so successful, for example.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Oh, the nodes are communicating with each other, absolutely. The points that they are making don’t seem to be making headway among the Progressive Left.

                Perhaps I should say “yet”, here.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                For better or worse, they’ve only just now started talking to white “progressives” in earnest. And as you can see (e.g.), white “progressives” are reacting exactly the way they’d criticize conservatives for reacting, which is to say, with behaviors somewhere between covering their ears and yelling “Nanana! I can’t hear you!” and just waving the BLM protesters away as silly and irrational and counterproductive.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Chris says:

                Maybe they’re reacting that was because they’re being treated that way. Maybe they’re reacting that way because the people supporting BLM are writing as though they were already reacting that way.

                Of course, “they’re already reacting that way and they always have been” is one of the core tenets of BLM, so whatevs.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Here are the words of one of the Netroots protesters. Here are the words of one of the protesters from Seattle. Here are the words of one of the protesers’ biggest defenders (if you are on Twitter, the heat she’s getting from Sanders fans there should be all the defense of the protests you really need). Here is another defense, with fairly typical arguments.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    “Why are they attacking us rather than attacking the opposition?”

    There are a lot of establishment players asking this question.

    On both sides.

    Historically, an establishment that has reason to ask this question is an establishment that stops being the establishment in a personally measurable amount of time.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

      (Which is *NOT* to say that the BLM folks are attacking Bernie. There seem to be a disproportionate number of people sitting in the audience that think that they are, of course.)Report

      • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        Yeah, I don’t think they initially saw themselves as attacking Sanders or the other dude whose name sounds like that of a United Press reporter from 1942. I think they saw themselves as disrupting an event, and utilizing a platform, at which and to which a lot of “progressives,” and white “progressives” in particular, would be paying attention. They knew they would get some negative reactions, and I am pretty sure they wanted such reactions, to highlight the disconnect between white “progressives” and the BLM movement. They got everything they wanted: attention, highlighting that disconnect, and the candidates actually addressing their concerns to some extent.Report

        • notme in reply to Chris says:

          So the wookies won and will continue this type of behavior.Report

          • Chris in reply to notme says:

            Dude, I’m going to break from ignoring you to point out that this is seriously uncool.Report

            • notme in reply to Chris says:

              Not too long ago we had a thread about letting the wookies, as in those people that complain, bully and threaten win. It is pathetic but understandable that you would try and turn this into something racial.Report

          • trizzlor in reply to notme says:

            Seconding Chris, this is the kind of shit that makes the whole place stink.Report

            • Glyph in reply to trizzlor says:

              It was a reference to this piece, which was featured and discussed on a Linky Friday not long ago; it is a reference to speech being chilled or quelled by violence, intimidation, or the “heckler’s veto”.

              Given the charged racial dynamics, it’s not a shorthand reference I would use here without explaining it – it’s not as though it’s a common saying in this arena yet.

              It’s fine to not mean something in the worst way it can be taken, but some onus is on the speaker to make their intent clear, unless they want to be seen as a bomb-thrower.

              (I take no position on whether or not the wookiee/speech-suppression analogy is apt in this case).Report

              • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

                In which case, I apologize for the inference.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Glyph says:

                I read that piece before commenting. It deploys an analogy where Muslims are savage wookies and westerners are intelligent droids, which is already horseshit for what should be obvious reasons. But let’s give the author the benefit of the doubt that he’s equating wookies only with violent extremists of all stripes. In this case, BLM did not engage in violent extremism but in civil disobedience. The analogy has no relevance. It’s only purpose here is to invoke savage imagery in reference to blacks.

                Notme’s goal is to rile people up and I get that. It’s like a middle-schooler using the word niggardly so he can get a reaction and predictably plead that he was just talking about stinginess. It doesn’t rile me up. But having to wade through that kind of tired bomb-throwing in my inbox for a thread I’m following makes me stop following the thread.Report

              • Notme in reply to trizzlor says:

                The BLM folks are disrupting a peaceful political rally to hijack it and spread their own message and or demand that Sanders adopt or endorse their viewpoint. Why arent these folks treated with anything but scorn? How is that unlike the example from the article? The only difference i can see is that the wookies in the article say ” you shouldn’t say x” while these folks demad their their message be broadcast by somone that doesnt want to say it.Report

              • LWA in reply to Notme says:

                Whereas the threat that a vote for a union will result in half the workers being fired, are in no way similar.

                Its only called class war when the people fight back.Report

              • Glyph in reply to trizzlor says:

                It deploys an analogy where Muslims are savage wookies and westerners are intelligent droids

                I think this is an overly-monolithic (on both sides) reading of the original piece, which draws distinctions between Muslims who would respond violently to speech acts and those that would not, and is predicated on exploring the fault lines in Western thought as well.

                let’s give the author the benefit of the doubt that he’s equating wookies only with violent extremists

                Yes, let’s. I for one have no issue with calling the sort of people who would gun down or behead cartoonists (or Salman Rushdies) for the “crime” of putting pen to paper and making ink traces in certain configurations, “savages”; and the killers’ race or religion has nothing to do with that. It’s likely nothing will change my mind on this question, so we’ll probably have to leave it at that.

                BLM did not engage in violent extremism but in civil disobedience

                I mostly agree, but I do think there is at least a bit of a gray area when it comes to the so-called “heckler’s veto” (drowning out the voice of another, to serve your own purposes), and it’s unrealistic to think that this question is only a concern of the right – the whole impetus behind various attempts at campaign finance reform is that some voices (for ex. the wealthy and corporations) are able to amplify their voices such that the voices of others are obscured, metaphorically “shouted down”, so that we don’t have the conversation we should be having because someone else redirected the conversation to their own benefit.

                I’m not as familiar with BLM as I should be, but there is probably an inherent assumption that black voices have too long been drowned out by white ones.

                If that’s the case, maybe turnabout’s fair play and necessary; or, maybe intentionally-drowning out the voices of others is a tactic that should be frowned upon, no matter who uses it.

                There’s an argument to be made that truly respecting “free speech” means letting others have their say. There may be times when this principle understandably gets overridden – if the speech is so viscerally-disgusting that listeners can’t much help catcalling (which I don’t see as being the case here); or, when someone who has little other opportunity to gain a speaking platform, seizes one to advance a noble cause.

                I would imagine the latter scenario is how BLM saw this situation; but it’s at least debatable whether Sanders’ rally was their only (or best) opportunity to effectively advance their agenda.

                If it wasn’t – if Sanders’ event getting disrupted for BLM’s purposes wasn’t justifiable – then such tactics are akin to a sort of bullying, just as it would be if you were standing on a streetcorner handing out flyers when I showed up, shouted you off the corner, and started handing out my own instead; even if I never laid a finger on you and neither of our causes was inherently-unjust.

                It wouldn’t necessarily be something I should be prosecuted over (assuming I never threatened you or otherwise broke any laws), but it’s not anything to be admired or encouraged either. I’d be the wookiee there.Report

              • notme in reply to Glyph says:

                “If it wasn’t – if Sanders’ event getting disrupted for BLM’s purposes wasn’t justifiable – then such tactics are akin to a sort of bullying, just as it would be if you were standing on a streetcorner handing out flyers when I showed up, shouted you off the corner, and started handing out my own instead; even if I never laid a finger on you and neither of our causes was inherently-unjust.”

                How could BLM’s actions be justified?Report

              • Glyph in reply to notme says:

                I thought I gave at least a theoretical justification in my comment. If BLM’s actions were deemed to ameliorate a greater injustice than the injustice of temporarily preventing Sanders from being heard, then they could be seen as potentially justified.

                Just like it’s not wrong for me to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, if the theater is actually on fire.Report

              • Notme in reply to Glyph says:

                Not to seem snarky but arent lives at stake here? Lives are more important than a campaign rally.Report

              • Glyph in reply to Notme says:

                I would imagine that is their view, yes. Assuming the following things are true:

                1.) Disrupting Sanders was the best (or only) way to advance their cause
                2.) Their cause is worthwhile, and did in fact get advanced via increased publicity and public pressure on candidates
                3.) Sanders and/or everybody else suffered fairly minor temporary harm from the disruption

                Then it would seem to me to be at least theoretically justifiable. Had they used physical violence, that calculus would change for me.

                (Of course, there might be those who feel that a Sanders presidency is the Last, Best Hope for the country/planet/humanity. For those people, if the disruption is seen to affect Sanders’ ultimate electability, then the disruption of a campaign rally might be believed by them to ultimately cost more lives than were saved, and therefore would not be justified).Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Glyph says:

                Let me see if I’m following the thread:

                1: Calling violent extremists savages/wookies is acceptable because they use force to achieve their goals.
                2: The heckler’s veto lies on the same continuum as using force to achieve your goals in that both are a type of bullying.
                3: BLM used the heckler’s veto to shut down Sanders’ speech.
                4: Calling BLM savages/wookies is acceptable.

                I mostly don’t disagree with 1-3 in isolation, but I think there are logical shortcuts in the way they are connected that result in an outcome that’s clearly incorrect. Especially so when we consider the context in which these comments have been made (notme’s subthreads in this post have been: (1) BLM are wookies; (2) blacks are getting violent in Ferguson; (3) all lives matter not black lives matter). Maybe I’m coming at this with bad intentions, but I’ve noticed a general pattern at OT recently in which someone posts a glib one-sentence comment that is clearly intended to be provocatively racialist, and then the other regulars all squint really and try to find some grain of truth and goodness if you read it just the right way.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to trizzlor says:

                trizzlor: ’ve noticed a general pattern at OT recently in which someone posts a glib one-sentence comment that is clearly intended to be provocatively racialist, and then the other regulars all squint really and try to find some grain of truth and goodness if you read it just the right way.

                Example of the “pattern”? The “wookie” comment seems clearly ill-considered and even spoilable (dubious justification relies on user being familiar with another post vs common bad associations). Another?Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                (Additionally, I would urge users generally to learn how to use quotation marks more rigorously – for instance when actually quoting, but not when in fact paraphrasing. If notme had begun by putting “Wookie” in quotation marks, it would have been harder to take offense, associating notme with an unacceptable attitude, before learning where it came from. Any attempt to discuss prejudice non-prejudicially calls for the utmost care, or we might as well not even make the attempt.)Report

              • notme in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                You are right. Quotes probably would have helped.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                The dozens of comments on the Steyn thread ( ) agonizing over whether using “illegals” as a noun is offensive or whether you can be racist if you criticize Mexicans as opposed to Latinos.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to trizzlor says:

                Since I don’t want to start the agony all over again, I’ll resists going into particulars, and just note that I don’t think that the evidence justifies a charge against “the regulars” here of engaging in racist apologetics as part of a “general pattern.”Report

              • Notme in reply to trizzlor says:

                Most of that was kazzy, not me.Report

              • Glyph in reply to trizzlor says:

                “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Hairsplitting Party?”

                Looking for nuance, or attempting a charitable read, or seeking precise, commonly-agreed-upon definitions of terms in the midst of emotionally-fraught debates seems to quickly garner insinuations of being an enemy or enemy-sympathizer.

                That’s The Pattern I see, anyway.

                It’s odd to me that there’s general consensus that the planet may eventually have more humans than its environment or resources can sustainably support, but the obvious corollary that a given nation might ever face the same issue, marks one as obviously racist or xenophobic.

                It’s also odd to me that people who would never consider illegally crossing over to Canada and staying there indefinitely, because nations have a right to control their borders and they are law-abiding citizens, are nonetheless confident that no ill can possibly come of the U.S. allowing de facto nearly-unchecked immigration across its southern border. I’m not really sure what borders are for, if they are not at least in theory enforceable.

                None of this particularly has anything to do with Mexicans, save for the geographical and historical coincidence of Mexico’s contiguity with the southern U.S.

                To be clear, I live in an area which is heavily-populated by Latino immigrants from Central and South America, and Mexicans are well-represented. I like it here, the food is good, and as far as I can tell, large-scale immigration of the legal and illegal varieties doesn’t appear to be causing me any huge issues personally. I’m a melting pot kinda guy, who sort of wishes that world powers had somehow convinced Israel to incorporate in North Dakota instead, back in 1948. We have the room, and it could have saved everyone a lot of trouble! (Edited to add: I also think we have a bit of a responsibility to help Mexicans, being that a lot of the current sorry state of their country is a result of Drug War policies that we initiated and pushed on them).

                But I also am not 100% confident that my experience or understanding is the only possible valid one. Maybe if I ran a lawn crew or a construction crew that couldn’t compete with cheaper immigrant labor I’d feel differently.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Glyph says:

                >>Looking for nuance, or attempting a charitable read, or seeking precise, commonly-agreed-upon definitions of terms in the midst of emotionally-fraught debates seems to quickly garner insinuations of being an enemy or enemy-sympathizer.

                If you think not-me’s comments in this thread are a great starting point for discussions on race go right ahead. I think they’re f’ing taxing and they divert any energy that could be used to find common ground into pecking parties that go nowhere. I mention this not to equate you or CK with “the enemy” but to gently suggest not to feed certain trolls.

                Trolling happens to be a craft. When Jaybird equates government regulation with the death of Eric Garner he is being deliberately glib, but it is in the service of getting people to a deeper understanding of their biases and knee-jerk reactions. I did miss the BlaiseP debacle (I tuned out after his JAZZ IS SERIOUS BUSINESS tantrum) but his screeds were as much intended to show off his beautiful brain as to dissect the issue. This is different. I stand by my conclusion that not-me is the middle-schooler yelling “niggardly” and hoping you’ll only hear the first half. And when he lets the end trail off ambiguously it is appropriate to push back, which is what I did here. It’s an insult to your intelligence and mine to pretend that of all the possible ways to reference the heckler’s video, he just happened to choose the most inflammatory one at random.Report

              • Glyph in reply to trizzlor says:

                Dude…you’re the one who “fed the troll”. I gently tried to point out that you appeared to be making an error* in your response to his comment, but instead here we are.

                *two, really. One, in initially not appearing to know where the “wookiee” reference came from or that it was being used to refer to the “heckler’s veto” here; and two, in responding at all to a known provocateur, often AKA “feeding the troll**”. Whether or not he meant to get you this time around – get you he did.

                **It occurs to me that our outrage over deploying epithets that potentially suggest that someone is subhuman is highly-selective.

                After all, I’d rather be a “wookiee”, a courageous and loyal being that has the intelligence to repair a droid and pilot a starship, than a vile “troll” who lives under a bridge and subsists on a stew of human bones.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Glyph says:


                Are we really, as a forum, arguing over whether it is okay to call black people “wookies”?

                There is a point where, just, like, OMG really? This?Report

              • Kim in reply to veronica d says:

                Of course we know it’s not okay to refer to them as Canadians in retail situations…
                But wookies?Report

              • Glyph in reply to veronica d says:

                Well, I’ve been trying to use the term “heckler’s veto” instead. But Heckle and Jeckle were black cartoon birds, so I’m sure everyone knows what I REALLY must mean, right?

                Switching off the snark, this is exactly why racially-charged debates deserve precision terms (and why I would steer away from ever using wookiee-intensive metaphors), because they are a hot mess already. To go back to the original debates about Mexicans – if I object to a U.S. military policy that results in “too many Americans” based in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and every other dang country on earth that doesn’t start with “Amer” and end with “ica”, the objection is not to the presence of “white/black/Asian/Latino-Americans” in those countries, it is an objection to the presence of “Americans” in those countries.Report

              • veronica d in reply to Glyph says:

                @glyph — Yeah, racial arguments are difficult, but this is because racism is difficult, and when the subject of the conversation is actual people with a long history of being targets of hate, then yeah, this happens. Did you expect it not to?

                So, “wookies”? Is there any point where you no longer trust someone’s good faith? The ability to say, “Okay, that went too far,” is part of this.

                “Wookies” is too far, and notme used up their good faith tokens a long time ago.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

                You could call it “Jeckel’s veto”, but then you’d have to hide.Report

              • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

                (Also, we need to organize Punny Fridays.)Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to veronica d says:

                “Are we really, as a forum, arguing over whether it is okay to call black people “wookies”?”

                We are, apparently, arguing over whether a Star Wars quote is actually dogwhistle racism.Report

              • Glyph in reply to trizzlor says:

                I’ll go in reverse order:

                “A glib one-sentence comment that is clearly intended to be provocative…” is kinda notme’s thing, and it’s something I’ve criticized before. I don’t particularly care for bomb-throwing (which I think of as related to, but somewhat distinct from trolling), particularly on race-related discussions, which are fraught at the best of times.

                Back up to the “savages/wookiees” bit – I don’t think even notme has called BLM “savages”; that word is something you and I have pulled in, while revisiting the wookiee metaphor.

                To whatever degree “heckler’s vetoes” can be considered as somewhere on the “wookieelike” continuum, I don’t think that using the wookiee metaphor should automatically be out of bounds; but I ALSO think that deploying the wookiee metaphor without explanation or elaboration, in a racially-charged debate is a bad idea.

                It’s kind of like the BlaiseP “orangutan” debacle (not sure if you were around for that). I don’t think that BP meant things in the worst light; but I ALSO think that in some situations, it pays to think about history vs. your word choices, and if it’s apparent that a word choice is going to be taken badly (or could be taken badly, or has been taken badly), it only takes a minute to say, “I didn’t mean it like that, I only meant X” and move on.

                If you can’t do that, I’m going to either assume bad faith (maybe you DID mean it that way) or else I will assume such a stubbornness to ever moderate your tone or concede any rhetorical ground that fruitful interaction is unlikely.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                Allow me to offer an alternative:

                Not me, who is clearly quite partisan, and not a fan of liberal hand wringing, tosses a, not so much of a bomb, but a water balloon of a comment in a debate where the racial tensions are humming like piano wire. The response, from expected corners, is that notme is being racist, even though there is another, much more obvious interpretation on hand, if only Glyph recalls it off hand.

                End result, Glyph mentions a more likely interpretation, and notme gets to enjoy liberals fitting nicely into the stereotype that liberals are always looking for racism, even when none exists.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                So the term “wookie” is actually referencing an analogy where an ape-like animal threatens to violently attack a peaceful, intelligent opponent. Can you explain to me again how comparing Black Lives Matter protestors to “wookies” is now acceptable with this explanation?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to trizzlor says:

                Because notme never made reference to the race of the protesters, only the tactics. This is why I try very hard not to assume something is implied, even if I want to.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                >>Because notme never made reference to the race of the protesters, only the tactics.

                This also happens to be the defense put forth by any racist who refers to humans who just happen to be mostly of one race using terms that just happen to be sub-human: When I call them animals I’m not talking about the race, I’m talking about the behaviour; of course you would interpret it in a racially sensitive way.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to trizzlor says:

                All the squinting @trizzlor mentions assumes racism requires nooses, hoods, and whips.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:

                No, but it requires more than “I don’t like X & I’m happy to employ the most uncharitable read I can against them.”

                I can grant notme a charitable read because he likes to push liberal buttons like an unsupervised 3 year old in an elevator. And since to me a claim racism is pretty severe & will require equivalent evidence to support it.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                On the thread about “too many Mexicans”, I didn’t even know who the guy was. I reacted to his words which were pretty cut and dry and then the hair splitting about how maybe sorta technically he meant this lther thing that was actually still racist but because it was raciat in a slightly less explicit way the entirety of his point was obviouy wholly unracist. Sorry… No dice.

                I haven’t weighed in on notme’s comments he re: “wookies.”

                Yes, false cries of racism are wrong for a host of reasons. You know what’s worse? Pretending all sorts of very real instances of racism aren’t racism because white folks are constantly defining racism in increasingly restrictive ways.

                If you think Mexicans are inherently of less worth than other humans, you’re demonstrating racism.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kazzy says:


                I did not follow the Steyn thread. Still, you are correct that a claim that X humans are less valuable humans because they are X is racism (as long as X can be tied to some racial/ethnic marker).

                However (and I’m more than a bit annoyed that I feel the need to even remotely defend notme on this), claiming racism against notme for a singular one line comment requires drawing a line from Wookies to Monkeys (a line that, were they not fictional characters, Wookies would find exceptionally offensive & racist) and assuming that notme was trying to claim the BLM protesters were acting like violent monkeys. This, despite the fact that the one line comment specifically references a recent post here on OT, and an outside post that notme links to, that deals with the tactic of letting someone win a fight solely based upon the threat, overt or implied, that they were not going to back down & were willing to engage on that field to the bitter end.

                I watched the video of the Seattle rally, it was pretty clear there was no violence implied or threatened, and even if there was, it would not have gone far (Sander’s had enough security). The protesters, however, were clearly willing to stay engaged to the end, and Sander’s did, in effect, let the Wookies win. And I think he was smart to do so, and the protesters were right to, in essence, play the Wookie card.

                Notme obviously is not happy that Sander’s did so. Possibly because he’s a racist, or, as he has been much more open about, he’s a police apologist and does not like seeing anti-police protests (which is what BLM is, for the most part).

                Less racist, more naked authoritarian in my mind. YMMVReport

              • Kazzy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                Again, I didn’t weigh in on the “wookie” comment.

                Here is the offending passage from the Steyn piece:

                “America has more Mexicans than anybody needs, and then some. It certainly has more unskilled Mexicans than any country needs, including countries whose names begin with “Mex-” and end in “-ico”.”

                People defended this, usually with a combination of, “Mexicans aren’t a race so it isn’t racism!” and “Well, it’s true!” There was also some intense parsing of words, wanting to only focus on the “unskilled Mexicans” part and ignoring the fact that this man said there exists a number of Mexicans after which more are inherently too many.

                Will people sometimes inadvertently or ignorantly step in it with regards to race and deserve the better of the doubt and some education? Absolutely. But this fucking guy? No. He knew *exactly* what he was saying and to try to mince words to make it something else is offensive.

                With regards to the “wookie” comment, I’ll tell a story…

                Early in my teaching career I was supervising the kids on a climbing structure. When they were swinging around, I would often say, “Wow! You’re climbing just like a little monkey!” One day, a little Black girl was swinging and I almost uttered that same phrase… a phrase I uttered a dozen times before… and I caught myself. There was no way in hell I was going to call this little Black girl a monkey, no matter how adept at climbing she was. It was just wrong to because of the history of that word when used with Black folks in this country.

                Does that mean if someone perhaps slightly less self aware than I had said it they should be chastised as an evil hearted racist? No. But it is certainly LESS racist to say, “Ya know what? There are better ways around this situation and I’m going to choose one.”

                Was it racist for NotMe to call the BLM folks “wookies”? I don’t know. I don’t know what his intent was. Would it have been preferable if he’d have paused and thought, “What would be the impact of using this term?” and chosen another one? Yes. Does that make him wrong? Again, I don’t know.

                It is the ol’ intent versus impact thing which is very hard to parse.

                But the Mexican comments? No. Nothing hard about that. Fucking racist, period.Report

              • notme in reply to trizzlor says:

                Wow, you really are determined to find racism somewhere.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Because notme never made reference to the race of the protesters, only the tactics. This is why I try very hard not to assume something is implied, even if I want to.

                I hear ya. Unfortunately, it also leads to (and supports, for that matter) the claim that no one is a racist. Yet we know that people are. And that policies are, as well. But if no one’s a racist (because people only talk about tactics, or principles, or whatever) where do all these racist expressions and actions come from? (Sure as shootin, they come from the person who imputes racism to another, of course. They’re the real racists! QED!)

                Edit: I wrote a post about this a long time ago (my one and only contribution to the League in the good ole days) but part of the question I asked was this: what constitutes a sufficient condition for the accusation of racism to be justified? And the answer I gave back then was that in many situation those conditions logically cannot be met. WHich (if true) is weird, dontcha think?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                This is the post, if you wanna read it. The comments were outstanding.Report

              • Notme in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Since trizz wont link the piece i will in order to help you to understand what he is distorting.


                Honestly, if i thought this kind of silliness would have resulted, i wouldnt have bothered.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Glyph says:

                Hey, wait, I thought us Libertarians are the Wookie’s?

                When did this become a racial thing?Report

              • Don’t the trolls at Reason call the First Lady Chewbacca? Someone told me that once.

                Oh, here it is.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                It’s not racist though, “some people just look like animals“. Discuss!Report

              • Damon in reply to trizzlor says:

                I have it on personal experience that a guy I once worked with has all the characteristics and mannerism of a snake. The dude oozed slime. He was also, not coincidentally, the guy who’d cash your pay check (for a %), “ran the numbers” in the facility, loaned money, and performed a number of grey/black market functions for guys in the plant. But he didn’t touch the cigarette smuggling. That was some other guy.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Now that is offensive, even if I’m not a fan of hers.Report

              • It shouldn’t matter whether you’re a fan of hers. If someone called Dick Cheney a vampire, I’d …

                OK, bad example.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Schilling says:


                Although, vampire is a stretch. Aren’t they supposed to be all beautiful and such?

                Now a ghoul, on the other hand…Report

              • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                That is in fact what I thought of when I first read it.

                I must say though, if I’d known it would inspire this, I’d have just continued to ignore our petit bouffon.Report

    • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      If you’re asking, “Can’t they see that we’re fighting the same fight?” Your next question should be, “Are we really fighting the same fight?”

      In this case, if your answer is, “One side’s talking about economics while the other side’s talking about race,” you’re probably only listening to one side.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Oh, indeed.

        While there is pretty much zero overlap between BLM on the one hand and Trump on the other, there does seem to be some overlap in the whole “where the hell are you going to go… the other party???” on the part of the folks in charge with regards to the concerns of the supporters.

        Eventually, the supporters start saying “you know what? I don’t like playing your game. Let’s play mine.”Report

  10. notme says:

    It’s simple, the BLM people know they can do it to Sanders and get away with it. And speaking of which the one year anniversary of the Ferguson shooting was accompayned by civil disturbances (the PC term for riots)Report

  11. North says:

    Look, as I understand it HRC simply did the obvious thing, agreed with BLM, said “Black Lives Matter” and moved on. Bernie in contrast tried to get cute, rolled out a line to the effect that “I think all lives matter” and some of his supporters started noising around that not being satisfied with that implied anti-Semitism.
    Frankly, sometimes (maybe often) being the weathervane politician is the more productive choice if you’re trying to get elected. It appears to have served HRC well in this particular instance.Report

    • notme in reply to North says:

      Why is saying that all lives matter being “cute?” All lives are equally as valuable, right. BLM got in trouble b/c he didn’t make the pc statement placing a greater value on black lives.Report

      • trizzlor in reply to notme says:

        Also, how come it’s okay to have a Black Entertainment Network but not a White Entertainment Network? Stump a liberal with that one at your next cocktail party.Report

        • CK MacLeod in reply to trizzlor says:

          trizzlor: Also, how come it’s okay to have a Black Entertainment Network but not a White Entertainment Network? Stump a liberal with that one at your next cocktail party

          You can laugh at notme for failing to adopt your precepts, but resting on presumptions about “what everyone knows/should know” about race in America risks turning conventional anti-racism into an empty and vulnerable formality.

          In other words, the born-yesterday American surprised to have been invited to your left-liberal “cocktail party” says “Why not indeed?” Well, he would, except we don’t imagine Joe Six-Pack saying “indeed.”

          The left-liberal contradiction or tension in the left-liberal coalition appears right here, in the numbingly and nauseatingly familiar form of this exchange. Left anti-racism, which dominates the conventional left-liberal and mainstream discussion of race, simply assumes the necessity of an anti-“white” correction – just as, incidentally, most social/victim movement politics presumes the necessity and justice of correction against the identified oppressor class. That may be all well and good for the properly educated (or “privileged”) cocktail party attendee, but the revolution, or counter-revolution, is not a cocktail party.

          If you’re going to insist on a “conversation about race” that is something other than one-way imposition of never-to-be-questioned authority from your superiority to their inferiority, then you’re going to have to re-explain for the beer drinkers and teetotalers why they have to drink your preferred cocktail, and why “color-blindness” – which is the natural “liberal” position, the MLK commandment, and usually the left ideal – is not also the best and most moral practice.

          If you simply refuse to answer because you think it’s beneath you, and immoral even to ask, then you’re helping to recruit for the alt-right. Perhaps you’ll blame the latter’s greater prominence on the fact that they’re white people, white people being naturally morally deficient, cocktail party-goers somewhat excluded, of course. Saul asked a little while ago why the racists were “coming out of the woodwork.” Maybe you should at least consider the possibility that it’s not a woodwork, but a mirror.Report

          • Notme in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            The pc answer is that all the other tv stations are already the white entertainment network. Just like we need a black history month bc every other month is white history month. I guess the logic follow that each ethnicity needs its own history so they can be truly valued for their contributions, blah blah blah.Report

          • Chris in reply to CK MacLeod says:

            I agree with much of what you say here, but will point out that he’s reacting less to the person who genuinely doesn’t understand why someone would think “BET” or perhaps “Black History Month” might be important, even necessary, but someone who knows the arguments for them and uses them as a cudgel. See, e.g., the other response to your comment.Report

            • CK MacLeod in reply to Chris says:

              notme (and further-right) respondents may know those arguments, but not accept their validity or absolute validity. In other words, the closer you get to mainstream multi-culturalism – whose status would be difficult or impossible to assess objectively – the less one-sided the justification according to those same arguments would be for BET or BHM or even BLM vs WET, WHM, and WLM.

              The alt-rightist will hold that “race” remains a relevant category of understanding generally, as even and especially for the further-left. The liberal is torn between belief that “racialism” is a faulty and retrograde, scientifically invalid, and altogether harmful perspective, and being continually pressed not just to address race, but to utilize and promote a simplistic racialized terminology.

              To everyone “uneducated” to the wisdom and higher moral purpose of this approach, it appears to be utter doublethink: Either it’s OK to divide society by racial groupings, or it’s not, they think. If it’s OK even a little bit, then you produce a clash of interests with real differential outcomes: In a zero-sum societal exchange (which is also implicit), affirmative action for anyone is inherently relatively negative action for someone else, and the “negated” other will naturally ask what’s in it for or against me?

              Since the discourse and the policy it promotes have already racialized “me,” then the further question is “what’s in it for or against us?” The societal consensus up to a few minutes ago at least has been that “whites shall not ask that question on their own behalf.” Leftwing highly racialized anti-racism in combination with whatever actual success of liberal-egalitarian or color-blind/individualist anti-racism seems to make maintaining that consensus more difficult.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to trizzlor says:

          Oh gods, now I’m imagining the agony of being stuck at a cocktail party with notme.Report

  12. Murali says:

    If it were Rand Paul saying how this is a problem with police brutality in general and downplaying the racism aspect of it, we would not be having this conversation right now. We already beat this into the ground when Ferguson happened. There is something shitty in denying the racist element in this. Sanders could have just acknowledged that class was not the only dimension along which shitty things happened and that racial inequality that transcended class issues were also a problem. But he decided that it was more important to push socialism than to acknowledge what seems like an obvious enough situation: There is a significant racism problem that is distinct from class problems and police brutality problems. If you come across as more tone deaf than Hillary Clinton towards a significant portion of your constituency, you deserve to lose.Report

  13. DensityDuck says:

    From the sound of things, what the #BLM people want is for American liberals to recognize that there’s more to political behavior than just Who Is The President. Which is a problem that American liberals have had for a very long time now.Report

    • Chris in reply to DensityDuck says:

      This is a good point too. Much of what they’ve focused on has been local and state-level stuff.Report

      • nevermoor in reply to Chris says:

        Yep. Definitely no important liberal achievements in the last eight years. Stupid focusing on having a sane president who then enacted a ton of important legislation…Report

        • Chris in reply to nevermoor says:

          How many people have been killed by the police this year? As compared to last year? The year before? What’s been happening to incarceration rates? How ’bout segregation? Getting better or worse?

          Yeah, we got moderate health care reform and may have averted war with Iran, things I’m sure BLM activists are moderately glad to see, but they feel like they are fighting for lives, so it is very much a matter of what are you doing right now? And the most direct routes to changes that will save lives are at the local and state level. They want federal reforms too, of course: body cams, the military halting its “make the cops in BGE the functional equivalent of a small military unit” program, and prison reform, say, but their agenda is largely more local.

          And the fact that so many people on the, er, “left” seem to think they’re blind idiots, without even a cursory skimming of the things they’re saying, is infuriating.Report

          • nevermoor in reply to Chris says:

            Sure. Local issues matter and I’m certainly not saying BLM is wrong to focus there.

            But I’m not sure how that translates to a criticism of focus on federal offices. I don’t live in Ferguson (or Missouri), so the only political acts I can take to help are to vote to increase Democrats’ federal power (and try to use primaries to promote the Democrat most likely to actually help). I think voting for Obama achieved some tangible results on this front, and I’ve been proud to watch Holder (for example) in all of this.

            I can do non-political things too, but BLM is focusing on politics.Report

            • Chris in reply to nevermoor says:

              Yeah, I can’t tell what your beef with what I said, or what DD said for that matter. I mean, the tendency to focus overmuch on the Presidency to the exclusion of local and state-level elections, allowing Republicans to dominate in many places, is a well-known criticism of the Democratic party in general and progressives in particular. BLM is actively pursuing local, state, and federal policy, which means the criticism doesn’t apply to them.

              Your response to this is snark about… I’m not sure what. The criticism? BLM not focusing exclusively on the presidency? What?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Chris says:

                As I said earlier in the comments, “we’ve done a lot of good things for everybody” sounds a lot like Republicans saying “economic prosperity benefits all of us” in response to concerns about wealth inequality.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to DensityDuck says:

      From the sound of things, what the #BLM people want is for American liberals to recognize that there’s more to political behavior than just Who Is The President.

      Now, see, looking at it from that direction actually makes sense. #BLM isn’t annoyed at Sanders, they’re annoyed at huge liberal cheering crowds for a presidential election that’s more than a year away, instead of those huge liberal crowds, for example, attempting to do something about police violence. The liberal establishment is about to spend over a year promoting people, and ignoring the issues.

      I’m not sure that strategy is completely correct, but at least it’s some sort of plausible thing.

      If I were part of #BLM, I would suggest that instead of that, perhaps getting the candidates to show up somewhere *they* are and support their message might work better. Like, what sort of insanity would it be if Sanders and Clinton showed up in Ferguson during the protests? Or they got *all* the Dem candidates to record support for a TV ad?

      Which is a problem that American liberals have had for a very long time now.

      I’d argue it’s the major problem, in fact. Who Is The President, and, to some smaller extent, Whether Some Important(TM) National Law Passes or Not.

      All the local issues, all the local politicians, all completely ignored, unless the area is ‘liberal’ to start with.Report

  14. Damon says:

    “The Black Lives Matter crowd believes that racism is a separate structural issue that would still exist if America became a socialist paradise with zero economic inequality tomorrow.”

    Hah, we agree then. Frankly, I find it odd anyone could believe that economic parity would change how people are wired since it’s easily to see how people self segregate, when race is the variable and all things are equal. I saw it at my college.Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      You’d lose some of the propaganda about black people. (just some of it, mind), if we fixed economic equality.

      But, dammit all to hell, I’m not that socialist. I don’t think that the world would be a better place if Bill Gates had as much money as I did, and no more. (The Kochs are a different story… but not all rich people are sadistic assholes (erm, I don’t mean that in a sexual way))Report

    • Jennifer in reply to Damon says:

      It’s not a question of how people are wired, IMO. It’s a question of people’s actual lived experience.

      I am a middle-aged black woman. I grew up in a middle class home, the only child of married parents. I attended an exclusive mostly white magnet school in NYC for elementary and high school and have a college degree. I am married, with one child, and have a good household income. I have never been arrested, used drugs, or in any way lived up to the stereotypes racists have about people like me.

      But none of that protected me from being followed around in stores by shopkeepers, or from people assuming that I’m a sales clerk at Macy’s when I’m shopping. You can’t see my education or economic background or my lack of a criminal record just by looking at me. But everyone can see my chocolate brown skin.

      That’s why Bernie Sanders notion that solving economic inequality would end racism is wrong. I like Bernie Sanders and agree with much of what he has to say; I am even seriously considering voting for him in the NY primary. But he can’t be this clueless about what being black means, and then expect black voters to just fall in line. If BLM’s tactics are helping to educate him about the reality of living in black skin, more power to them.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to Jennifer says:

        This comment by @jennifer is the best in the thread so far, in terms of encapsulating what’s happening.

        Hope you stick around, Jennifer.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Jennifer says:

        @jennifer — I believe you are correct. The idea that economic improvement will “solve” racism seems preposterous to me, and honestly I’m surprised Sanders tried to float that line.Report

        • greginak in reply to veronica d says:

          Sanders is coming from a very old school left wing view. Like the 30’s and before mostly. That view has become less fashionable as old school left wing thought has faded and because it doesn’t really match reality very well.Report

          • LWA in reply to greginak says:

            The 28,000 people of all ages who turned out last night here at the LA Sports Area seem to have missed that memo.

            I’m teasing, but it is interesting how when I speak to These Kids Today (my son and stepdaughter and friends) how enthusiastic they are for not Sanders personally, but the economic populism of the message that the system is rigged in favor of the rich.

            Sanders does seem to generate enthusiasm with more than just aging hippies.

            I wouldn’t be so rosy about it translating into actual policy anytime soon, but as with any movement, it can pull the center far enough to make things like privatizing Social Security a third rail again.

            P.S. He had someone from BLM open his rally. He must have seen my advice from yesterday’s thread.Report

            • Jennifer in reply to LWA says:

              These kids today are right about the way the system is rigged in favor of the rich, and good on Sanders for making that message a part of his campaign.

              But a candidate needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, and to recognize that assembling a winning coalition of voters means you need to address each constituency’s concerns. I think Sanders has caught on to that, finally; it’s just unfortunate that he had to be called out by BLM before he realized that needed to respond to the issues BLM and other black folks care about.Report

              • LWA in reply to Jennifer says:

                I agree, that shrewdness is a necessary quality in politicians, and Sanders does seem a bit flat footed, like he is so used to preaching to the wind, he isn’t prepared for people to actually engage with him.Report

              • Jennifer in reply to LWA says:

                I wonder if it’s also because he’s a senator from one of the whitest states in the country, and just hasn’t had to be as plugged in to the concerns of black voters as others pols have (like Hillary Clinton, who had to get black support to win her Senate seat).Report

            • greginak in reply to LWA says:

              LWA, you sort of missed the point. The economic message that the system is rigged for the rich doesn’t in any way imply that the BLM message shouldn’t alos be prominent. Sanders’ belief that fixing the economic structure is the key to eliminating the problems with racism is, i woudl argue, grossly wrong. Fighting both issues are important and are not exclusive.Report

        • Chris in reply to veronica d says:

          You only get economic equality when you get rid of the racism that produces much of the economic inequality.Report

          • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

            Ok, I’ll ask, and really, I’m not trying to troll – how?

            It’s a fairly straightforward process for the US Government to increase taxes on persons of a certain income level and corporations of a certain revenue size, and increasing spending on programs x,y, and z. (say education, health care, and transportation. Heck, include direct cash transfers, for that matter).

            How does the US Government attack racism without a repeat of the bussing debacle?Report

            • LWA in reply to Kolohe says:

              Ahh, I remember the bussing debacle.

              Kisses all around! Free love, they called it back then. You’d grab your best girl and go to a commune like Woodstock, and make out.

              Can’t do that nowadays, though. You grab a girl on the street and buss her, you’ll get the Fuzz on you like nobody’s business.

              Now busing, that was a whole different thing. But I walked to school, so it didn’t matter to me.Report

            • Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

              I have an abstract answer, which is basically start from the beginning (abandoning the idea of universal citizenship, which is, seemingly paradoxically, exclusive), but as the abstract answer implies, the more concrete answers will be situation specific rather than standardized from the center out.

              But I’m not a part of BLM. The best thing to do, again, is ask them. Or the many people writing extensively on the subject (e.g. OT favorite TNC).Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Chris says:

                The main weakness in Coates’ “Case for Reparations” is that he was not at all clear on the form or quantity required to ‘settle’ the claim.


                Chris: I have an abstract answer, which is basically start from the beginning (abandoning the idea of universal citizenship, which is, seemingly paradoxically, exclusive),

                Yes, let’s make people unequal under the law. What could possibly go wrong?Report

              • Chris in reply to Kolohe says:

                If you think that’s a fault of that essay, I suspect you missed its point.

                As for special rights and such, I still have to save a defense of that for another time, as it requires a lot of defending.Report

              • InMD in reply to Kolohe says:

                This is why, despite all the praise Coates receives, I think he can be such a bad spokesman for his cause. He has a unique voice but his insistence on never really coming out and confronting the hard, nitty-gritty questions make him easy to dismiss. I can’t tell if it’s just his style or if beneath it all he is an intellectual lightweight posing as someone much more profound.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                What, do you think, is his cause? I mean, he didn’t specify a dollar amount, or how many times his boots should be kissed by royalty, because he pretty clearly said that that type of thing ought to be resolved via discussion. Furthermore, he actually said that he’s less interested in material reparations than he is of having the dialogue, since merely having the dialogue would constitute an admission that black have systematically been taken to the financial cleaners.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                His general cause, as I interpret it, is anti-racism. The purpose of the piece we’re talking about, as I would interpret it, is to argue that the United States government should make payment to the descendants of African slaves as recompense. In my opinion, “resolved via dialogue” is a complete cop-out. It’s what politicians say when they don’t have the guts to say something substantive.

                Now I wouldn’t expect him to write a treatise addressing every possible issue and counter-argument. He doesn’t have the venue for that, and even if he did, it isn’t reasonable to expect one person to have all the answers. What’s hard for me to take seriously is a piece that makes a controversial policy proposal but doesn’t take a swing at any of those harder questions. Maybe the Atlantic doesn’t want him to take those kinds of stances since it might alienate the white segments of his audience (I honestly have no idea) but I would not call the end result compelling writing.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:


                This may not be true of you, but I can’t help but think that if he had proposed a dollar amount, he wouldn’t be credited for having the balls to put a number on the table, but rather that he’s so audacious in his presumptions as to think that a specific number could ever be clearly identified. He’s just on a [fill in the preferred term expressing ridiculousness] kick. Just like all those [fill in similar but more general term].Report

              • Chris in reply to InMD says:

                A dollar amount would defeat his actual purpose, which is a discussion that reveals the structural aspects of racism, including, but not limited to housing segregation and discrimination, educational segregation and discrimination, discrimination in credit allocation, and so on.

                The people who keep insisting there should have been a dollar amount or something else equally specific didn’t read the piece very well.

                Though I only brought up TNC because he’s well known here. If you don’t like him, there are plenty of other people writing about racism and policy. You can find them if you’re actually interested.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

                “You can find them if you’re actually interested” and dislike them too!


              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                @chris @stillwater So the response to a criticism about a particular piece that was being discussed on this thread is “your criticism is wrong because of some other unnamed writer who wrote some unnamed piece out there somewhere on the internet”?Report

              • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


                You have the bad habit of responding only to your “opponents'” weakest arguments. Lame.Report

              • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

                What argument am I missing? I’m also not sure I comment here enough to have any habits.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


                I asked a point blank question about two paths TNC could have taken. Someone below quoted the relevant section of his piece (regarding legislation addressing reparations). Chris offered to point you towards other writers who might be more to your liking. Your response to all this was to say that Chris didn’t give you actual links. Seriously?Report

              • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy I responded to your question below (and am about to respond to your follow up). On the matter of other writers I don’t see how that is relevant to a point I made solely about TNC. I did not assert that a convincing argument could never be made for reparations just that I did not like the one made in TNC’s The Case for Reparations.Report

              • Chris in reply to InMD says:


              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                “Other, unnamed writer”?? What are you talking about InMD?

                The response to your criticism is exactly what was said.Report

              • Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

                I’m going to start only reading the last few words of his comments as well.

                So his entire response to my points about TNC’s reparations essay is “Out there on the internet?!”Report

              • nevermoor in reply to InMD says:

                Why would that piece have been more profound with a dollar amount attached?Report

              • InMD in reply to nevermoor says:

                I will take your point on my phrasing. What I should have said is that adding a dollar amount, among other specifics, would have made the argument more convincing.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


                So you’d consider it preferable if TNC said, “Give us $X,” instead of saying, “Let’s actually figure out how to undo structural and systemic racism”? And part of your rationale is because he didn’t unilaterally offer the definitive roadmap for doing the latter?Report

              • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

                I don’t want to go onto a tangent specifically about a dollar amount (and in retrospect I can see why it may have appeared that was my only problem with the piece). However, the lack of details on that particular issue is illustrative of my larger problem with the piece.

                My criticism is that he made a policy proposal that I don’t think he adequately defended. Again, I don’t expect draft legislation or hundreds of pages of details, just a basic idea of how we get to said policy from here, some basics about what said policy looks like in practice, and what we can expect the outcome of said policy to be.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


                What was his policy proposal?Report

              • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy I answered this question for Stillwater above. His article is called ‘The Case for Reparations.’ I think it’s therefore reasonable to understand him to be proposing that the government give money to the descendants of African slaves as recompense for what was done to their ancestors. That is a policy proposal. I understand some people read TNC’s thorough recounting of racial inequities as sufficient to make that case but I do not. Others seem to think he is making a different kind of argument and maybe he is but I’m not really seeing what that other argument is.

                I think a really good piece would take that next step and address some of the basic issues and obstacles CK MacLeod mentions below (who gets them, when, how do you handle competing claims).

                For example, if someone wrote an essay called ‘The Case for a Hybrid Car Tax Credit’ I would expect not only a history of the damage carbon emissions has done to the environment, but a little bit of number crunching about who is going to get what, when they will get it, and what the results would be. If it does not include anything of that nature beyond form a committee then it isn’t a very good policy proposal.

                As a footnote I’ll just add that I am not making a comparison between entrenched racial inequality and carbon emissions beyond how i think proposals that the government release money to individuals to address a problem should be analyzed.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:

                But he wasn’t advocating what form reparations should take, just that some form of making right the past wrongs was necessary. That is the case being made.

                Think of it like a court case. They don’t spend the trial arguing over the potential punishment, just whether any punishment is warranted. THEN they go to sentencing.

                Saying he didn’t specify what form it should take when he was making the argument that SOME form should it exist is setting a pretty unfair burden.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to InMD says:

                I think it would be perfectly reasonable to establish (1) carbon has environmental harms that continue to the present day; (2) that hybrid cars are part of the answer; and (3) we need to be able to have a discussion on how best to incentivize people to drive hybrid cars.

                (3) is enough in a world where there’s complete refusal to engage on either of the two priors.Report

              • InMD in reply to nevermoor says:

                @kazzy @nevermoor My issue is that reparations are a specific well defined concept. Laying out the problems of racism and how it manifests itself is, I absolutely agree, an unfortunate but necessary part of deciding what to do about it. I think that burden has already been met when it comes to most intellectually honest people. However, the existence of these problems does not in itself mean that the best solution is reparations or even that reparations is a workable part of many solutions.

                I don’t think it’s an unfair burden when he is the one who chose that approach.Report

              • nevermoor in reply to InMD says:

                It’s a burden he carries, though, by supporting a specific political action that is currently blocked. I just don’t understand why you can’t / don’t see that.

                His point is very simple: structural racism was real, and STILL IS REAL. So we should be able to talk about how to fix it (in the form of reparations rather than vague AA / equality concepts). Seems complete to me.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to Kolohe says:

                >>The main weakness in Coates’ “Case for Reparations” is that he was not at all clear on the form or quantity required to ‘settle’ the claim.

                >>What I should have said is that adding a dollar amount, among other specifics, would have made the argument more convincing.

                Below is the relevant portion from TNC’s essay discussing this, which I believe was also quoted here at OT in Tod’s post:

                Broach the topic of reparations today and a barrage of questions inevitably follows: Who will be paid? How much will they be paid? Who will pay? But if the practicalities, not the justice, of reparations are the true sticking point, there has for some time been the beginnings of a solution. For the past 25 years, Congressman John Conyers Jr., who represents the Detroit area, has marked every session of Congress by introducing a bill calling for a congressional study of slavery and its lingering effects as well as recommendations for “appropriate remedies.”

                A country curious about how reparations might actually work has an easy solution in Conyers’s bill, now called HR 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. We would support this bill, submit the question to study, and then assess the possible solutions. But we are not interested.

                I think it’s odd to criticize TNC for skirting an argument that he explicitly addresses in his piece. Though I understand that this probably got lost given that most of the piece is making the case that reparations would be just while bearing in mind that justice can’t always be served. The typical white moderate concern on reparations is indeed that it would be too complicated, or too expensive, or that there’s no politically actionable next step. TNC has taken all of that off the table by saying that – as with any other major undertaking – we should study it, that the study alone would be a positive symbolic measure, and – hey – there’s even a bill in Congress that you can get behind. Now the concern is that he hasn’t carried out the study himself?Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Kolohe says:


                The main weakness in Coates’ “Case for Reparations” is that he was not at all clear on the form or quantity required to ‘settle’ the claim.

                Setting aside problems of self-interest on the part of the leading advocate, the main weakness in Coates’ approach is that it relies on a concept of collective racial guilt and victimization – racialism at least, simply racism if you do not adopt the illiberal definition of “racism” – that is the opposite of a liberal concept of society and justice. That his proposals are broadly and uncritically embraced by left-liberal commentators underlines the weakness of their commitment to the liberal concept, and their relative lack of practical interest in the rest of their policy agenda. The great difficulty of defining and imagining a fair and practicable mass reparations policy – what would constitute a true “settlement,” who should pay, who should receive compensation, assessing competing collective claims – or even of a truly objective “study” of the question, is an indication of this more fundamental problem.Report

              • Chris in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                This is the worst interpretation of it, one that, setting aaside the problems of self-interest on the part of its author, doesn’t necessarily line up with the way people think about this. It is true that, to some extent, people use a short hand when talking about these things, a perhaps unfortunate shorthand based largely on the divisions created by the very problems they’re trying to solve. This does not, however, mean that they reject in any way the concepts of society and justice you say it does. It might be better to say that it relies on societal guilt: we live in a society in which the effects of historical and present discrimination and oppression play out in ways that tend to benefit some people and harm others. In order to create a more just society, a more equitable and fair society, we have to address those effects, and the only way we can do so is to speak frankly about their racial dimensions.Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to Chris says:

                we live in a society in which the effects of historical and present discrimination and oppression play out in ways that tend to benefit some people and harm others.

                “Historical and present discrimination and oppression” will tend to, or must in fact, both benefit and harm the same people.

                Discussing or “studying” this problem non-prejudicially would require a re-consideration of numerous precepts – or taboos – in a way that, as we have previously discussed but in a way that can only scratch the surface, would produce a desperately unwanted conversation. The TNC/Conyers proposal can for that reason only be for a phony discussion. See previous comments on the construction of a “white” interest.

                To retreat to possibly safer ground under the same thesis, it will be generally recognized that a stable and relatively harmonious social order is of benefit to most participants, even and especially to those least well-favored by “effects of historical and present discrimination.” For the same reason incitement of zero sum competition and conflict based on ancient and even biologically conditioned affinities, in search of a notionally more equitable re-distribution of wealth, would be undesirable in itself, and imply a process whose only conceptual limit would be the complete unraveling of that order.

                On the same note, as in regard to “rejecting” the liberal concept – both in an ideal sense and in relation to material interests – the conversation would be simpler if the illiberal left were more frank about doing so, more in the old Marxist (or Proudhonist, or Leveler) style. Instead, today’s left-liberal wants to have his or her cake and so on. Your own formulation recognizes that the reparations proposal is an exceptional proposal – beginning with the “perhaps unfortunate shorthand” which happens to be the main defining characteristic of a racialized reparations scheme. It is a proposal for a transfer of wealth from one racially defined sector of society to another, and I don’t really see how you can define it in any other way without in effect changing the subject.Report

              • Chris in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                Dude, I just rejected them in this thread!

                That said, I think you’re right, we’re going to have to talk about some unpleasant and, in some ways taboo things. But I think it will be you and I, not the people harmed by such discrimination, who bear the brunt of most of the frank talk that we currently avoid, not the other way around.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                It is a proposal for a transfer of wealth from one racially defined sector of society to another … *to redress historic abuses*. What is your definition of “liberalism” that it excludes restitution?Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to trizzlor says:

                What is your definition of “liberalism” that it excludes restitution?

                In short, the doctrine of rights or freedoms of the individual human being, or citizen, versus the state or any collective power. In application, as understood since the inception of Modern Era liberalism (i.e., the period of the foundation of the American state), the liberal concept does not preclude “restitution,” but it would tend to preclude collectivized restitution. (In an absolute Lockean/libertarian order, it would be absolutely precluded – but no such order has ever existed or can this side of Judgment Day.) In other words, before you punish me, says the ideal liberal, show me the crime that I, not the group to which you or the state assign me, committed. Otherwise, leave me alone.

                If, rather than the Modern liberal concept as a potentially self-consistent political-philosophical concept, you wish to discuss the mid-20th Century-to-present social-liberal hybrid, then we’re referring to the cake-having-eating coalition that undermines its own stability, and real political prospects, and eventually the stability of the post-war American consensus, to whatever extent it turns out to be favoring one side over the other – or loses its balance.

                Its general outlook may not exclude collective guilt/restitution in all respects, but the more truly seriously the TNC/Conyers proposal is to be taken, the more serious the risks to that coalition. The natural tendency, as we have seen, is for those who discount that risk to apply coercive pressure – implicitly the threat of violence or social disorder – which is also obviously illiberal, and that’s why this is all entirely of a piece with the Sanders/BLM question, and why, finally, many people who think that Donald Trump is a repellent lout may still sympathize with his typically pugnacious response to the Seattle incident.

                On this topic, Trump is standing up for a defense of the liberal order – the order in which everyone has a right to say his or her piece, in exercise of public reason, without being pushed aside. As a socialist, Sanders is already committed to relatively less ideally liberal solutions to perceived inequities, and, in the end (more subtly), to less ideally liberal ways of discussing them. That on this matter Trump occupies (crudely as ever) the more ideally “liberal” position re-produces the outline of the larger discussion in a mixed liberal-democratic order with blurry and sometimes bloody “left” and “right” extremes.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                >>In application, as understood since the inception of Modern Era liberalism (i.e., the period of the foundation of the American state), the liberal concept does not preclude “restitution,” but it would tend preclude collectivized restitution. (In an absolute Lockean/libertarian order, it would be absolutely precluded – but no such order has ever existed or can this side of Judgment Day.) In other words, before you punish me, says the ideal liberal, show me the crime that I, not the group to which you or the state assign me, committed. Otherwise, leave me alone.

                I’m stuck at this part. Consider the simplest case where an individual has been the victim of police brutality, vindicated in court, and paid millions in restitution by the government (i.e. taxpayers). Is this illiberal because the government has not shown (and in fact cannot show) how each taxpayer has committed the crime? Does the example become illiberal if we replace “individual” with a class action (e.g. the Pigford payout for state abuse of farmers)? When does the example become illiberal?Report

              • CK MacLeod in reply to trizzlor says:

                Quickly, because I have to get to other things, but the principles underlying the constitution of state power are not strictly liberal principles. So, yes, the government payout is in this strict sense “illiberal” – and the collection of taxes for perpetuation of a state constantly in the process of robbing Peter (the taxpayer) to pay Paul (persons harmed, in need, etc.) is something ideal or radical liberals (or what we call libertarians) oppose.

                From a more social contractarian perspective, of course, we have all already implicitly agreed, as The People, to take responsibility for the police. We have agreed that they or the state that recruits, employs, administers the police department, and uses police power to enforce the law frequently violating personal freedoms, “represents” us.

                In the mixed system that we have, and in any functioning government, the ideal is always already compromised. Acknowledging as much doesn’t prevent us from assigning different weights to different violations of or exceptions to the ideal. To the extent they conform to a societal consensus, they not only can be accepted, but simply will be.

                The question in relation to the “reparations” proposal would be whether it could be seriously pursued (even as a mere government-sponsored “study” or discussion) without endangering that consensus – or, by the same token, and implicitly the Coates argument, whether failure to pursue it might do so. I think the reason that the proposal does not catch on, except as a quasi-ritualistic exercise in expiation led by self-selected moral arbiters, is that a positive implementation or re-implementation of an expressly racialized social policy and therefore the reinforcement of a racial social concept is not anything anyone outside of the “alt-right,” least of all the representatives of a relatively small minority group, truly desires. “Beyond here, there be dragons.”Report

          • InMD in reply to Chris says:

            I agree with @kolohe and think that you could make precisely the opposite argument (which I assume many Sanders supporters would) just as plausibly. The mainstream progressive movement pays lip service to systemic racism but I think, at least in its online manifestation, often treats it more like an individual sin, where the solution is tongue clucking and shaming of individuals who with varying degrees of intent say something mean, stupid, or insensitive.

            The other perspective is that racism at the personal or emotional level of individuals is hard to address from a policy perspective. From that point of view the best thing we can do is to try to improve the actual material conditions of racial minorities along with the poor generally and hope that over time racism at the individual/emotional level not only appears more absurd but causes less damage where it persists. That would mean basic wealth redistribution in the form of government programs. Better yet we can also set in place policies that force general accountability in law enforcement (BLM has some good ideas on that issue) so that individuals are less likely to be abused and if they are there is some recourse.

            My personal perspective is that race and poverty are intertwined in America in such a manner as to make it ridiculous to argue either that racism is the sole cause of current entrenched inequality (its racist roots of course aren’t debatable) or that the disproportionate poverty of (some) racial groups would go away if only we could solve racism. Is a black man more likely to be in prison in this country because he’s black or because he’s more likely to be poor. The answer can be both.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:


              Is a black man more likely to be in prison in this country because he’s black or because he’s more likely to be poor. The answer can be both.

              If you take a time slice of US incarceration rates and review it exclusively based on the data that are presented, you’ll find that black people are incarcerated at a higher rate than whites. (In 2009, black folk constituted 39.4% of the prison population and only 13.9% of the total population.) A certain type of analyst might then ponder why that’s the case: do black people commit radically more crime than white not-black people do? Is poverty a causal factor in the commission of crime? Are black people who aren’t impoverished more likely to be incarcerated than not-black people? And so on. All of that, acourse, divorced from the context in which black people live in America, one which is culturally determined (no matter whether you think that’s right or wrong, or even what that term signals!).

              So, the question of whether poor people are likely to be incarcerated is a different one than whether black people are likely to be incarcerated, yes? Even if the answer is both. And blurring those two concepts doesn’t really serve any useful purpose except to obfuscate the role race actually plays in all this.

              So it seems to me.Report

            • trizzlor in reply to InMD says:

              >> My personal perspective is that race and poverty are intertwined in America in such a manner as to make it ridiculous to argue either that racism is the sole cause of current entrenched inequality (its racist roots of course aren’t debatable) or that the disproportionate poverty of (some) racial groups would go away if only we could solve racism.

              I don’t think anyone is making this maximalist argument. What people are saying is that when white americans have a median net wealth of >$100,000 and black americans have a median net wealth of ~$10k it’s absurd to claim that a one-size-fits-all, race-blind, income equality platform is the most effective way to alleviate that. That’s doubly true given that black people who were *de jure* denied equal accommodation, housing, jobs, etc. are still alive today.Report

              • InMD in reply to trizzlor says:

                I don’t entirely disagree my point is about where I think priorities need to be. For me food in bellies and roofs over heads which aren’t connected to correctional institutons are always going to be more pressing than the more abstract stuff. The fact that we can get there in a more or less race blind way is in my opinion a feature because it makes these changes more politically feasible.Report

              • Jennifer in reply to InMD says:

                It’s not clear to me that we can get more food in bellies and roofs over heads in a more or less race blind way.

                In the midst of the Great Depression, when Social Security became law, farmer workers and domestic help were excluded from receiving benefits. Why? Because a large portion of black citizens in the South worked in those areas, and Southern Dems wouldn’t go along with the program unless they could keep black people out of it.

                Today, one would think that the passage of Obamacare would mean that health benefits would be distributed in a race-blind way. But then the Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion optional, and most Southern states refused the expansion. The end result? Large numbers of black citizens are left without insurance–can’t get Medicaid, and aren’t eligible for subsidies.

                My point: IMO, it’s naive to think that anything can be done in a race-neutral manner, given our history and the current reality that racism still exists.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jennifer says:

                @jennifer I disagree. I don’t think that the problems with social security you mentioned are comparable post de jure segregation. Government programs will probably never be perfect but discrimination in the disbursement of government benefits is now illegal.

                I think your Medicaid example actually supports my argument. The reason that has happened isnt clearly due to racism (though it probably plays some role) its due to a failure in the way the law was drafted and the political maneuvering in Congress that went into passing it. The bad result of that failure disproportionately effects black people but it could be corrected in any number of racially blind ways such as changing how medicaid is distributed or continuing to push for some type of public option or single payer system.

                Now you may be right that we will never get to perfect through such mechanisms. I have no opinion on that. However even if you’re right I don’t see why that’s a reason not to attack the issue on the front where you can get signifiant improvements.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


                So we just play whack-a-(racist)mole and hope things work out for Black folk? That they need to depend on perfectly worded legislation?Report

              • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy You’ll have to define whack-a-mole racism is in this context for me to be able to respond on the first question (not trying to be snarky just debating in good faith since apparently that doesn’t seem to be clear to everyone).

                On the second question I’ve never said that I think there is a single approach to adressing this issue, only where i think the priorities should be. In a perfect world fixing racial inequality would not require perfectly constructed laws but then in a perfect world we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with. In the example we’re talking about here, black people disadvantaged by the failure to expand Medicaid under the ACA in impacted states should in theory have a whole host of natural allies who are also being left out of the system or who sympathize with being too poor to have access to health care. That’s where you start to form a political coalition to address the problem. Building that coalition is where I think discussions about racism on a more personal as opposed to structural level can be very useful and better seve progress.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to InMD says:


                Like the ol’ carnival game… You fix one issue that allows racism to persist and suddenly another appears.

                Even leaving aside explicitly racist intentions, the quest for power is inherently human and the current GOP shows no hesitation to pursue racist tacks if only because of the voting patterns of Blacks and Latinos.

                So we can say, “Hey, well technically that law isn’t explicitly racist and, if it ends up exacerbating racism, maybe we can fix it with another likely flawed law,” or we can enact still imperfect legislation but at least such aimed at addressing the issue head on.

                Also, pretty much everything @jennifer said as reasons not to just hope.

                At the risk of using a verboten word, I encourage you to consider how your own racial privilege may make it easier to dismiss Jennifer’s position when the potential harm of doing so is unlikely to effect you.

                “Let’s not be rash in addressing this issue,” seems the provence of the folks not actually harmed by it (which, in America, so often seems to be straight rich white guys). The GOP saw fit to challenge newfound marriage equality absent an actual victim yet demands the very patience you outline here when dealing with folks who’ve been harmed going back generations.Report

              • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

                @kazzy First I don’t see how the argument that the next law will also be racist addresses my point. I mean, if we concede that then why not just give up altogether? The biggest advances this country has been able to make on race have been through a mix of outreach and public policy via statute and legal challenge. What is the alternative path in our current form of government?

                Also where have I advocated not rushing to judgment? I readily concede that racial inequality is a serious and challenging problem to deal with and that we should be doing things now to deal with it. I guess I’m not understanding what realistic options are out there that don’t involve working through our political and legal process as they actually exist.

                Lastly I don’t see where I’ve been dismissive of @jennifer. I’m just discussing the issues she’s raised. I’m not a Republican nor do I have republican sympathies so I don’t know what the reference to the SSM debate has to do with this.Report

              • Jennifer in reply to Kazzy says:

                I think you are hinting at something really important in with this comment, Kazzy.

                Black people are disproportionately economically disadvantaged. But not all black people are in these straits. The experience of racism, though, cuts across class lines, as I pointed out in my comment yesterday about my own situation.

                I worry less about poverty (as a personal problem I may encounter, not as a societal issue), and more about my personal safety, the personal safety of my biracial daughter, anti-discrimination laws and voting rights laws being vigorously enforced, my concerns about encountering racism in daily life, etc.

                For example, my husband and I went to the induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate New York a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time. Unfortunately, though, as we drove on the way to and from our hotel, we passed a house that had a big Confederate flag posted on it. In March, my family went to an amusement park./indoor water park in the Wisconsin Dells, and one of the guys working one of the rides had a Confederate flag tattooed to his neck.

                Nothing happened in either locale; the house may have even been abandoned and the tattooed guy made sure we were strapped in to our ride securely before we took off. And obviously, people have the right to fly flags and tattoo themselves with whatever they want. My point is that race is a concern for me personally, aside from economics, and I need the person I support for President to get how important it is.

                I think Sanders is well intentioned and ultimately lines up on what I consider to be right side of all issues, including racial ones. But he needs to make a case that a Sanders presidency would not subsume race issues under the economic justice umbrella, but would be addressed with vigor in their own right.Report

              • Jennifer in reply to InMD says:

                In the example we’re talking about here, black people disadvantaged by the failure to expand Medicaid under the ACA in impacted states should in theory have a whole host of natural allies who are also being left out of the system or who sympathize with being too poor to have access to health care.

                The key phrase you said there is “in theory”. I guess I’m pessimistic that this host of natural allies is anything but theoretical.

                People in states that refused Medicaid expansion are predominantly in the deep South, where there is a stark divide between voters (blacks vote Dem, whites vote Republican). Given that, it’s hard for me to envision developing a working coalition between poor black and poor white voters that could get their governors and legislatures to accept the Medicaid expansion, or to vote in Democrats who would enact it. After all, people don’t vote solely based on their economic interests.

                I would also argue that those states are busy trying to disenfranchise black voters, and any success they have on that front makes any cross-racial coalition even harder to put together.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jennifer says:

                @jennifer As with your below comment, I don’t have any substantive disagreements here in regards to the challenges behind building that coalition. I do think that people in states where the Medicaid expansion is being denied will eventually get angry enough to do something about it though. I’ve read some news articles suggesting that is already happening, though as you note it hasn’t led to any actual change yet.Report

              • Jennifer in reply to InMD says:

                As a practical matter, given the difficulty of getting the ACA passed, what makes you think we can pass a law that changes the way Medicaid is distributed?

                Each state sets its own income levels at which a person is eligible for Medicaid. This allows some states to put absurdly low ceilings on Medicaid eligibility, so that lots of people end up shut out. Why would any of these states, who didn’t accept the Medicaid expansion that would have cost them literally nothing for the first few years, suddenly agree to change the law so that aid gets to people they wanted to deny it to in first place?

                What’s more, to my knowledge, the Social Security law did not say “these benefits are expressly denied to black people”. What it said was that domestic and farm workers are not eligible. This had the effect of discriminating against black people without doing so explicitly.

                We also see with voting restrictions how seemingly race-neutral laws negatively effect black people. In one state (I think South Carolina), a voter needs to have a valid birth certificate in order to get the necessary voter ID. Black people disproportionately lack birth certificates, as they were often not born in hospitals. If my grandmother still lived in South Carolina, she’d have a problem getting ID–she was born in 1925 and doesn’t have a birth certificate.

                You are drastically underestimating how hard it is to change our laws, and how deeply entrenched structural racism is.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jennifer says:

                @jennifer Respectfully, I never said my proposed approach was easy, only that I think it’s more feasible than laws explicitly targeting the issue of race. See my above comment to Kazzy about a natural coalition that can be built around the paritcular issue with Medicaid. Also, on that matter, in theory the only thing that would need to change would be the governors of the states that have declined the expansion funds. Not easy, but it could be done in a single election.

                Bringing this all the way back to the OP I think the reason Sanders is even on the radar, is because he understands such a coalition could he built.

                I understand how facially neutral laws can still operate to have a disparate impact on racial minorities, and that some laws are intended to do just that. I’m just stating my opinion on the best (but certainly not the only) means of combating those types of outcomes. The voter ID laws to me, for example, are the types of things that I think are ripe for constitutional challenges.Report

              • Jennifer in reply to InMD says:

                Bringing this all the way back to the OP I think the reason Sanders is even on the radar, is because he understands such a coalition could he built.

                I think the jury is still out on that. Sanders’s response to BLM interrupting him at Netroots didn’t indicate to me that this coalition is really viable, or that Sanders is the one who will ultimately pull it together.

                After all, if he wants this coalition to exist, he’s finding out that he has to persuade black voters to join him, that he can’t take it for granted that they’ll see the issues the way he does. That means he’ll need to find some way to make racial justice a key part of his campaign strategy, not as a sub-issue of economic justice, but as its own important issue with its own solutions. The BLM folks are reacting to the fact that unarmed black people are dying in the streets; a message on the evils of economic inequality isn’t a solution to police killings.

                I’m baffled as to why this has proven challenging to Sanders. Hillary Clinton has made several clear, specific statements about racism. She has also talked about economic issues, like making college more affordable. Those two things don’t conflict, and Sanders should be able to figure out a way to address both issues if he wants black voters to support him.Report

              • Roland Dodds in reply to Jennifer says:

                @jennifer Sanders is basically just giving the same stump speech he has for the last 10 years. While I support a socialist running for office, I find him to be disappointing in his unwillingness to say anything he hasn’t already.

                In fact, his comments about borders and immigration were the things that perked my attention as of late. He could have fallen into the same old rhetoric about immigration, but that showed he was willing to say something that his base may have problems with (or was just completely out of touch).Report

              • InMD in reply to Jennifer says:

                @jennifer I find nothing to disagree with you on there. Maybe it’s wishful thinking but I do hope Sanders finds a way to incorporate those views from BLM. I shudder at the idea of another corporatist Democrat with hawkish foreign policy views, though it does look like that will be one of the two realistic options come the general election.Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Chris says:

            America experienced it’s greatest level of economic equality when segregation was still in force. African-Americans were still much poorer than everybody else but the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everybody else was much less.Report

      • Damon in reply to Jennifer says:


        I’m sure environment is a large part, but I’m not discounting innate genetics and 100K years of evolution. All humans are tribal creatures. They fear the different, they prefer to cluster together with others that are “like” them, be that race, religion, income, political outlook, etc. The more similarities the better. Even if you fixed the rest, that will still around.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jennifer says:


        And what is interesting is that, as @leeesq and @saul-degraw (and possibly others) have pointed out, is that Sander’s experiences as a Jew give him a weird parallel experience that theoretically should make him more empathetic to what Jennifer describes.

        It would seem that Bernie would look at Jennifer and say that she escaped the trappings of poverty and, with it, the trappings of racism.

        And yet if someone were to look at Bernie and say, “Well, yea, you’re Jewish, but you have light skin and a non-Jewish sounding name and you don’t appear particularly Jewish and you can pretty much pass as non-Jewish white and therefore anti-Semitism isn’t really an issue for you,” I’m sure he would object that both contemporary and historical anti-Semitism still colors his experience with the world.

        Yes, his ability to possibly “pass” and Jennifer’s middle class lifestyle may afford them SOME level of insulation, but it certainly doesn’t eliminate the realities of racism and anti-semitism.

        This isn’t to say that Bernie necessarily has some greater responsibility to understand racism because of his experiences with anti-Semitism. However, it does seem like an opportunity missed that he can’t or doesn’t seem to empathize as he is somewhat uniquely positioned to do and it makes me wonder why.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Jennifer says:

        Dude, this is an exceptionally important group of points that, seriously, helps us wrap our heads around stuff.

        Thank you!

        Comment more often!Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Damon says:

      I think a reasonable way to look at it is that if the US somehow got rid of massive income inequality, racism would *matter less*. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as damaging. It, for example, couldn’t condemn people to generation after generation of poverty, because that, duh, couldn’t exist.

      And part of racism would go away because, as people point out, it’s easy to be prejudice against people with dark skin who are much more likely to not have an higher education (because their public school sucked), who can’t get a good job (because no degree), and who have a criminal record (because their public school dealt with problem students via the justice system instead of internally). It’s *not* so easy to be prejudice against people with dark skin who are generally economically identical to you, often living next door. (It’s possible, don’t get me wrong. Just harder.)

      But the problem there is that’s a stupid hypothetical, because it’s very hard to see how to get rid of income inequality without dealing with racism at the same time! Hell, we know some things can’t work that way…even *after* you account for income and legal representation, black people still get convicted of crimes and sentenced longer than white people,which, of course, often sentences them to a life of poverty.

      This is a very strange world Sanders has invented, where you can just cure inequality without dealing with racism, and then racism suddenly vanishes, and #BLM is right to think it’s stupid.

      If anything, it’s the other way around…reduce racism, you *probably* reduce poverty to some extent. Although not completely, and ‘poverty’ is just part of income inequality. Without racism, WRT income inequality, we’d just get black CEOs *also* making absurd amounts of money compared to their workers.Report

  15. InMD says:

    Even if the answer is both. And blurring those two concepts doesn’t really serve any useful purpose except to obfuscate the role race actually plays in all this.

    So it seems to me.

    I disagree completely. It does serve a useful purpose if your goal is doing something measurable to improve the circumstances of the people most impacted. The problems of racism and inequality overlap and to the extent we can fight what might be called disparate impact racism by attacking inequality and the policies that entrench it we should.

    I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with arguing for more enlightened attitudes and/or sensitivity about race. I just don’t think it’s as valuable at our current point in time as improving material conditions and ending the policies that create mass incarceration.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

      and to the extent we can fight what might be called disparate impact racism by attacking inequality and the policies that entrench it we should.

      Ahh, OK. I see. Fair enough. More than fair, actually.Report

  16. Oscar Gordon says:

    @chris @inmd @kazzy @kolohe etc

    The problem with the TNC piece is that he talks about reparations, but that isn’t what he is talking about. He torpedoed his own argument by using a word that carries a lot of baggage with it.

    He wants a conversation about structural racism. Not individual racism. I think InMD is right here that trying to combat individual racism is a game of whack-a-mole you’ll never win. But structural racism, that can be examined, and at the very least fixed.

    Reparations, despite how TNC might have intended to use it, means payments, money, a direct cash transfer from A to B. That is how people who are not wholly onboard with the idea are going to read it, that is how it is going to sink into their minds, and that is how they will resist it. Doesn’t matter if he spent 10,000 words talking about how bad it was, and how bad it is still, he used that word in a context that left people thinking about a payment.

    IMHO, he should have, in the first bit of his essay, taken that word, explained the baggage of it, and tossed it aside. Then, in the bit where he talks about Conyers legislation, he could have focused on how it’s meant to examine and address structural racism, without mentioning reparations. And even here, any policy proposals have to be considered carefully, lest they become as embroiled as Affirmative Action* is today.

    *IMHO the biggest problem with AA is the lack of a review & phase out process. Or, at least, I’ve never heard of there being any such thing. Perhaps at the time it was passed, this was a necessity, lest it get dismantled before it had a chance to make a difference, but today, any kind of policy proposal that would hope to unwind structural racism, by granting an advantage to minorities, would almost have to have one, given how hard it is to unmake a law once it’s passed.Report

    • Chris in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      I disagree, though I see your point. If he’d written an essay titled, “The Case Against Structural Racism,” no one would have read it. Making it seem like it was about reparations made it buzzworthy. There is little in his essay that hasn’t been said 1000 times before by other authors, but he got a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise pay attention to pay attention.

      Of course, TNC’s real flaw that he has an uncanny ability to inspire passionate inaction in his his readers, but so far at least, I see no evidence that he has the ability to inspire action, passionate or otherwise.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Chris says:


        You and I have discussed (behind the scenes) how “safe” TNC is. TNC is undoubtedly brilliant, but he seems to aim more for, “Let me see how many white people I can get to nod and say, ‘Hmmmm…'” as opposed to actually agitating for real change.

        Which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want real change. It is simply the niche he has carved out for himself. Something I don’t fault him for as he has attained much professional success so bully for him.

        As you noted above to @inmd , if he is the only Black writer discussing Black issues that folks are reading, they are getting a very incomplete picture. A better picture than if they read no Black writers on Black issues, but an incomplete one. Again, that seems to be his strength: he lets well-meaning but largely inactive white folks pat themselves on the back for having a Black writer in their mainstay but doesn’t seem to do much more than that (at least when talking about modern issues of race in America; I think he also writes a ton of stuff on history and I can’t speak to that as I don’t know much about history).Report

        • Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

          I think sniffing at the ability to get people to nod and say “Hmmmm” is probably pretty silly. Gay marriage happened (in such a short span as still surprises me) much more due to that, than to firebrands.

          Every person who says “hmmm” and thinks about an issue for a minute, is someone who goes into a voting booth (or a store, or a personal/professional interaction) next time with a different perspective than before. That ain’t nothing.Report

          • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

            I think you’re right, but gay marriage also happened because there were a lot of activists and activists groups everywhere fighting on multiple levels to make it happen. There are, of course, civil rights activists, but how big is their coalition? How many people show up to the marches? How many people put pressure on their representatives at every level? How many people consider it an important issue come election time?

            If the answer to that is, “Not many more after TNC than before,” then I’m not sure getting people to nod and say hmm is progress. I mean, maybe it is part of the process, but it seems like we should be a little further along now, and the time for just inspiring nods and hmm’s is past.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Glyph says:


            In addition to what @chris said, I don’t know that I was sniffing at TNC as much as I was casting SOME shade on the well-intentioned white folks who never do more than nod and say, “Hmm…” and pat themselves on the back for reading TNC.

            I don’t think TNC owes anyone anything. Good on him for doing what he does. But you can’t call yourself an anti-racist or someone genuinely invested in change if you never get past the “Nodding at what TNC said” stage.Report

            • Chris in reply to Kazzy says:

              Right, I have no problem with TNC. He’s doing the Lord’s Work, and he’s got a huge audience should he decide to cross the line to radical and action-focused, which I suspect he’ll do (which I suspect he is actually on the cusp of doing, perhaps in part inspired by what young activists are doing now; I wonder, too, how much the initial Baldwin comparison was meant as a push in that direction).

              I admit that I’m curious to see how people react when he does.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chris says:

        Chris: I disagree, though I see your point.

        I’m good with that. I’m not here to win this argument, just make my point.Report

  17. zic says:

    It’s not just Sanders getting interrupted.

    Jeb Bush was forced to end a town hall event in Nevada early after Black Lives Matter activists interrupted the event by chanting at the former Florida governor and his supporters.

    After Bush answered numerous questions at the town hall, protesters began to shout “Black Lives Matter,” while a few of Bush’s supporters responded with “All Lives Matter” chants, according to the Los Angeles Times.


  18. Glyph says:

    Because this made me laugh like the idiot I am: