Annoyed by Activists Forcing Bernie Sanders Off Stage? Get Over It

Print More

Comments on HuffPo after the episode in Seattle.

HuffPo

Comments on HuffPo after the episode in Seattle.

There’s a thin line in politics between brilliant and stupid and the BlackLivesMatter activists who shut down Sen. Bernie Sanders’ event in Seattle on Sunday certainly trod pretty close to the border. Leaping on stage to seize the microphone from a 73-year-old man running for president, rejecting his outstretched hand, demanding that a crowd of thousands listen to someone they had no desire to hear, and then accusing them of “white supremacist liberalism” when they didn’t sit quietly—it’s all likely to alienate some potential white allies.

But if that happens, it won’t be the activists’ fault.

If you’re a white liberal or progressive and you feel a little offended by what occurred onstage in Seattle, that’s a reasonable reaction. The activists’ display was aggressive, intrusive, inconsiderate, rude and indiscriminate. In other words, it’s what the America that black people deal with must be like every day, everywhere from history textbooks to courtrooms, job interviews to pop culture.

By grabbing the mic the BLM movement is, in a way, refusing to be alienated despite the deadly tendency of U.S. society to alienate people of color. So, white progressives have no right to choose to be alienated just because we have the privilege to do so.

Instead, take deep breath and then return to the discussion on its merits. It’s unclear whether those two activists represented anyone other than themselves, and just because someone gets control of the mic doesn’t mean they have something worth saying, but it’s pretty clear that BLM—amorphous and decentralized as it is—isn’t coming out of left field in its critique.

Ask yourself: Has Bernie Sanders, or any other white politician, really said enough about what he intends to do about the violent racism that shapes the American present?

Ask yourself: If black America’s endurance of decades of lower life expectancy, mass imprisonment, lower wealth, police violence and sundry other injustices hasn’t awakened the establishment to the urgency of the crisis, is it reasonable for BLM expect that it’s grievances will be heard if it politely waits its turn?

Ask yourself: Are white progressives really so aware of the subtle and overt ways white privilege has shaped our lives and misshaped the lives of others that we don’t need the occasional in-our-face reminder?

The answer to those questions is no.

It’s unfortunate that Sanders was unable to talk about the economic security issues he intended to address, which are pressing and affect all people. But he’ll have other chances to do that. And until some legal and financial injustices are corrected, economic security will never be of equal to value to blacks as it is to whites.

I’ve never liked people heckling one another, or unplugging their microphones or drowning out debate with slogans. No doubt, there is far too much shouting and far too little listening in American politics. But that certainly didn’t start this weekend. Come campaign season, multimillion-dollar PACs invade my TV viewing time with manipulative propaganda far, far more often than BLM activists steal the sound system at rallies. It’s absurd to think that systematically dis-empowered people should play by the rules that other, more advantaged political players don’t really obey.

The left has a well-earned reputation for letting internal disputes undermine its mission, and Sunday’s episode did start to look like a circular firing squad, with the candidate walking off stage and some people in the crowd reportedly hurling epithets at the BLM activists. But self-defeat is choice, not destiny. Progressives will decide whether this and likely future episodes form into a rift or, instead, create a way to present to the broader public a more candid and democratic agenda for addressing racial injustice. There’s a difference between an uncomfortable (but useful) moment and an unbridgeable divide.

The point is, everyone has some power here—authority over her or his own reaction. Next time BLM grabs the mic, you can hiss, you can clap, you can listen. What you can’t do is run away.

  • erik

    this is an odd article: it seems to imply that if you don’t speak about something then you should be silenced. and even if you will, you still can be silenced, because hey: we think it should have been addressed,

  • PerceiveToBeWise

    When all lives matter it becomes a citizen rallying cry for justice. When it is only Black Lives Matter and there are obvious militants willing to use force, anarchy, division, and animosity towards others and blame them for the problems of their own making. Then they are seen for what they are black militant supremacists. They don’t want equality. They want capitulation. They demand – others comply. No, they will not get what they want in any society except a totalitarian black only society that alienates all others specifically over race and is the epitome of a movement of hypocrisy.

    • Jihan McDonald

      please be specific about when and what measures black lives matter has proposed to turn what is at present a white, patriarchal supremacist society into a black supremacist society because that’s an incredibly harsh conclusion to come to as the result of people demanding, yes demanding in the totally typical political parlance and procedure of our times, equity from a society that has not only been inequitable but actively abused and neglected the for half a thousand years.

      • PerceiveToBeWise

        I find complete fault with your underlying position. We are not a white, patriarchal supremest society. What planet are you on? Do you even know who occupies the White House? Have you looked at the makeup of the representatives of government? You are spewing propaganda and are anti-American. You are living in the wrong century and you are peddling lies and propaganda.

        • AJW

          haha dont worry mate all these people on here are just gov workers who pay for netflix and won’t ever dream of doing anything vaguely radical like download torrents for free.. tossers

          • Jihan McDonald

            i torrent, utilize the command line of my computer and have used open source software for years. and this is relevant to anything how exactly?… i’ll wait…

        • Jihan McDonald

          http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/10/ferguson-africanamericanspoliticalrepresentation.html

          have you? since when have exceptions made rules? you can find fault with me; the empirical evidence confirming implicit bias towards black people and a criminal justice & policing system that disproportionately targets people of color doesn’t and that’s what’s relevant. i don’t give a fuck about being anti-american if being pro-american means living in denial of factual reality.

          • PerceiveToBeWise

            Actually I don’t even want to converse with you much less find fault.

            Reverse-discrimination of white men exists. Of course it does and especially in all “diverse” oriented organizations with the government being the leader is such reverse-discrimination. Or on college admissions – yes whites are discriminated against and it is not the best student who gets the slot. Even Asians know of this discrimination practice. All lives matter and black lives do not matter any more than any other. Instead of bringing together all races to fight against police thuggery in enforcement and a change in how they interact with all persons all you care about is black,black,black, black. Well, I for one am sick of your victim-hood which is only a cover for your own failures. You want to solve black violence, clean up your own black on black violence. Another little girl was killed and two relatives shot in Charlotte, NC over the weekend. Where is the BLM movement. They are nothing but sick and twisted racists. They don’t care about black lives but in anarchy and looting. Thuggery with a thinly veiled cover of cries of discrimination over the black supremacy underlying it.

            Well, I don’t give a fuck about you. Go away racist. I live in a black community and we can get along just fine without your scum.

          • Jihan McDonald

            the vast majority of whits are killed by other whites, are you as concerned about white on white violence? i am able to back up my statements with facts not anecdotes, where is the data on reverse racism? you started the conversation and don’t want to continue it now? i wonder why…

          • PerceiveToBeWise

            First, Don’t know where you got the 85%. It is 56% of white offenders that commit violence to whites. 62% of Black offenders that commit violence to Blacks. I think you may be using older numbers where “white” included anything not black to get the number of 85% since black on white crime is about 13.7% and white on black violence accounted for 10.4% for the 2012/2013 period which is the latest reported period that now adds Hispanic as a category for the first time. Mixed race and small percentages of other races are in “other”.

            http://www.amren.com/news/2015/07/new-doj-statistics-on-race-and-violent-crime/

            Murder rates and violent crime is down drastically. I’m actually more concerned, same as the BLM movement, that police are exceeding their rights and trampling on all of ours; but unlike BLM I am concerned about us all regardless of race. I joined the march on Eric Garner’s death because his death was completely uncalled for by the police. But that was before BLM. BLM has made it about race when it isn’t about race but the need for better police training and citizen review panels that review police actions when excessive force is claimed to have occurred or any death. Police are incapable of policing themselves and the DA is in bed with the Police. The system has no true check and balance.

            But, BLM went further and when someone said All Lives Matter – they boo’d and even shut down a Bernie Sanders event with black fists raised (*remembrance of the Black Panthers). That is bullying and racist. I don’t want any part of that and neither do decent people and the reason people of all races are lashing out at BLM including many on the left and many blacks. (loved the rant from the grandmother – she was so right).

            There is plenty of room for cooperation but not when we can’t even agree that all lives matter. As to your assertion that they are made up of a great number of people of all races as if it is a cross section of society – that is just a pleasant lie you are telling yourself and those liberals who have white guilt or missing screwballs as to somehow its their fault that there is injustice in the world. What poppycock. Yeah, BLM has some rich kids and anarchists who go for the protest (actually any protest would probably work for many) who are not black or black for that matter – anarchists just like to destroy the system – any system. But the message is falling flat and they have already drawn battle lines where there is no compromise. Even the Democrats like Hillary (the liar) are saying “what do you want me to do about it – what do you propose?” If you think allyship will get you there, you are surrounding yourself with those who think like you and you will never change anyone’s thinking.

            moving past that point –
            I’m skipping some things I disagree with (completely as it concerns the Constitution – extreme bias on that point and 300 yrs ago was a different world – but I’ve got quotes from the founding fathers and much as discussed as to what they could practically do and what could practically get passed – yet protect a young country – actually fascinating) and some things I do agree with as you covered a lot of ground. So, we can still cover those but let me pick just one and then go from there.

            I’ll start out saying every social system is rigged with winners and losers. The US was not meant to be a social system of government. It does not pick winners and losers. Laws passed since the Constitution, local laws at the time, and historic issues created an unfair playing field. The Constitution doesn’t say anything on race to privilege or discriminate. Who got to vote was a local states rights issue at the time. Slavery again was a local states rights issue and the list goes on. Now I’ll skip the history and get to today and reverse discrimination –

            As to reverse discrimination, it is real tough getting good statistics except on a case by case basis as there is no NCAAP or other organization that would do so for “whites”. So, here are some examples and there are many more if you search for them. This one is interesting because it lays out how to demonstrate a legal case for action based upon reverse discrimination. here is one example sited in the paper:

            “the University of Michigan admitted 92% of Black applicants and 88% of Hispanic applicants who possessed a 3.2 GPA and a 1240 SAT score while only 10% of White applicants with similar scores were admitted”

            http://theapollonianrevolt.com/reverse-discrimination-higher-education/

            At Harvard University, whites make up less than a quarter of the student population, yet make up more than 70% of the US population.

            At UW-Madison, the SAT score for African Americans that were admitted was lower than requirements for Asians, Latinos, and whites, sometimes by as much as 150 points.

            In law school admissions, white students who at a median LSAT score and grades had a 10% chance of being admitted. This is comparable to a 70% admission rate for black students and a 33% admission rate for Hispanic students.

            Turning to income, it may be a surprise but intelligent white women are discriminated against in pay:

            For individuals in the top 10% of registered IQs, white women make nearly $50k less per year on average than African Americans and are the lowest income racial group.

            http://brandongaille.com/16-compelling-reverse-racism-statistics/

            So the debate isn’t if it exists or not – it does. Its not all “black and white” and there is unfairness in an unfair world. The debate should be what should be done about it. But not just reverse-discrimination but more importantly how do we have a fair no favorites field on which to compete absent of race? My answer is it has nothing to do with race but how one is raised and the attitudes towards studying and teaching self improvement.

            Seems like you already practice some of those things I advocate and have achieved great grades thus far. Awesome. You are in the top percentage but just because you are smart means little as to income or what can be done with it and that has always been true.

            As to your perceived discrimination. You have created it yourself. You are correct, I don’t give a damn about you. But you are in the vast majority as far as that goes. You all can stay and rot in hell for all I care for you don’t do what it takes to get out.

            There is no problem with your name but in your own mind. If you are Muslim, then yes, you have a problem but it goes far more than your name for your problems are brainwashed into your mind. I’ll fight for your right to believe as you wish but will never give you my back to stab or trust a damn thing you tell me. I am a kafir to the core and will never surrender. Ironic how the name for infidel in Arabic is a take off of a slanderous deeply derogatory term for a black African in Arabic – Kaffir. Why any black doesn’t see the obvious when it comes to racism and Islam is only explainable as willful self -blindness. I completely understand Islam a great deal. There is no middle ground for there is no middle ground allowed in Islam.

            As to “Effective Allyship”, I had to look up what you were even studying. That appears to be a very narrow field of social and economic justice and is based on assumptions we will never agree upon because your field of study as presented as I have found is actually part of the problem not the cure if this website is any example:

            http://delawareada.org/workshop/

            or this one

            https://myhs.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/documents/41620/0/10+Steps+for+Becoming+an+Effective+Ally.pdf/4d2c30d1-e062-4b99-ba4a-3c72b62d416e

            You don’t need to be in the US but in Europe for here, you are my sworn enemy just because of your ideology that is so misguided there is no meeting half way but only capitulation which I will not do. No wonder socialists and Muslims get along. Both believe in “the end justifies the means”. The true irony is that the Muslims will stab all socialists in the back as soon as they no longer need socialists for socialists and LGBT supporters and members they hate worse then me.
            As to allyship –
            First wrong assumption – you are a victim – get rid of that mentality for that is the root cause of failures in all poor neighborhoods both black and white.

            Second wrong assumption – someone owes you for historical wrongs. Get rid of that and wake up to reality.

            No one owes anyone a damn thing. Did you or didn’t you study to get your 4.0 on your own? If it was handed to you then you didn’t earn it and it isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. If you did earn it then no one can take it away from you and with your education and the proper mental attitude you can achieve anything. But, If you are fighting as allyship actually is mobocracy training for anarchy and revolutionary change. You will face those like me who will be glad to personally show you hell. I can be a friend who is closer than a brother and the worst of enemies. I pick my friends carefully. My enemies usually pick themselves.

            And yes, I do have a close friend who has completed sexual reassignment surgery and I never left them but was the only one who stood by them after even their family abandoned them and even when they wanted to commit suicide. So, I have understanding and compassion but I will not capitulate or allow the LGBT militants to create a socialist country and establish atheism as the state religion.

          • Jihan McDonald

            what i think you are missing about black lives matter is a larger dynamic we obviously don’t agree on. i am not saying that black people are victimized beings, i’m saying we’re socially neglected ones. the implication behind black lives matter is that when the system begins to address the folks it most chronically neglects that everyone benefits from a more just system being in place than the one we have. no one is advocating that horrific policing practices simply be directed at white people and away from black people; if the maladaptive training is addressed everyone, but especially black people due to the gap in how we’re treated now, are treated better.

            the 85% is indeed from before the break out of latinos from white people. the relative rates are still the same and my point still stands: most white people are being attacked by other white people yet there is no narrative of pathology about it. the fact is most people hurt the people who are around them. most white people in this country do not have significant relationship with black people, meaning that white people spend more time insulated within white communities which i imagine impacts the inter-racial violence levels; individual black people are far more likely to interact with white people than individual white people to interact with black people. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/25/three-quarters-of-whites-dont-have-any-non-white-friends/

            participating in black lives matter organizing i have worked with white people, latinos, pacific islanders and asians, to be very broad about categories. i never said it was predominantly anyone but black people, i said that people of many races understand the reason that its the call to action; as i said before, the underlying assumption is the benefits ripple out to affect substantive changes across the board. its humanity’s collective fault that there is injustice, and i’m not claiming to have any absolute answers about it but i am sure as shit dedicated to minimizing it; meaningful quality of life for all beings, human and otherwise, is my deepest value.

            no where in anything that i have written have i defined myself as a victim or as someone entitled to anything. what i have pointed out are the contradictions between claiming we do not live in place that prioritizes the health and safety of whites over blacks and others, as well as the wealthy over the poor, and what the data reflects. as for the workshop references i have no idea how working to end systemic oppression is a misguided goal. if people hadn’t done that there would no america for us to be having this debate in in the first place. as for race and the constitution, the 3/5 clause with there being no need to specify race as it was quite taken for granted at the time that slave was synonymous with black.

            i never said there was problem with my name, i love my name. the problem is other people’s relationship and reactions to it, ones that impact my ability to survive in a world where i must be employed. saying that out loud is not playing the victim its understanding that if i don’t considered for a position because somebody doesn’t like my name is i literally have to put in more work than john to feed myself. which is what my work focuses on, the physiology, with the intent of increasing people’s capacity to act responsibly towards both themselves and others. for example, the neurological paths in our brains that process empathy are the same that process violence so if someone is engaged in violent behavior they are in that moment incapable of practicing empathy because that channel is already in use; creating empathetic baselines for behavior tangibly makes the world a safer place for everyone by keeping that channel tuned into empathy rather than violence. by equal impact, when someone is being empathetic they likewise cannot also be being violent. its not social politics, or even ideology, its science.

            i have found the issue to be less with individual people per se than the ways we are taught through culture to live, or not live, with one another that lie deeper than conscious awareness in most people. my work deals with the nervous system to de-escalate the triggers we are often caught unawares by that prompt us to act in ways we wouldn’t if we knew its what we were doing; most racism now is reactive & reflexive rather than deliberate. that doesn’t make it not real, and it doesn’t change the impacts of the actions, behaviors and larger patterns that emerge.

            i work with not only white people, but people of color on how everyone cane be better allies to everyone. a better listener, with more capacity to respond pro-actively when witnessing harmful behaviors and interactions whether it be between a police officer and a black person, a cis wite person shaming a white lgbtq person, or an adult abusing a child is someone we All need in our lives.

            what goes unspoken in black lives matter is the too. no one questions whether the lives of the wealthy matter in this society, for example, the messages are clear and everywhere that they do. those messages don’t exist for the poor and they don’t exist for black people. its about black lives Not mattering at a systemic level, other than to fill prisons with more cheap labor that has had their rights to representation revoked, a situation not functionally terribly different than slavery.

            to act as if centuries of reality has no bearing on the reality of today is beyond foolish. we are still observing the effects of things that happened long before that, monotheism for example. no one would ever suggest that the conceptual implications do not stretch into today so why is there an investment in saying that the conceptual implications that i don’t have a soul wouldn’t still be impactful? we’re still impacted by newton & descartes, by abraham and mohammed. my great grand-parents were born and lived as enslaved people, which of course impacted not only their perspectives but their options, lived through by my grandparents who were maids and sharecroppers, and my parents who grew up during jim crow, still picking cotton. the fact that i am in grad school today is a direct outcome of choices they made as well as my own and i would never be so disrespectful to their struggles or their lives at large to say anything less.

            as far as islam and lgbtq issues go, i’m not even going there. i didn’t say anything about either of those topics and can follow the thread from my name to islam but am completely lost as to where the lgbtq thread came from.

  • native new yorker

    Bernie Sanders may be a foolish old socialist but he has the right to control his own campaign events. The BLM thugs were just plain rude but the event showed Sanders for the weakling that he is. The whole Michael Brown story was shown to be a lie by Obama’s own DOJ. His hands weren’t up and he was trying to grab the cop’s gun. Brown had just come from robbing a convenience store. Typical liberal role model.

  • saywhoandwhat?

    Boom! People are protesting to save lives and point out that black people matter too and that black people’s concerns must also be taken seriously in order to earn votes. If all it took was interrupting a speech in order to highlight these issues for white liberals to decide they no longer support ending indiscriminate murder, I think it is safe to say that you were never an ally to begin with. Black people don’t owe it to you to wait patiently while you decide when the right moment arises for them to ask politely to stop being murdered. Mmmmmkay. Glad we settled that ridiculous debate.

  • liquidassets

    I’m over it and so is Bernie! He agrees with their activism, if not their methods. Nonetheless, I was at the Sanders rally in L.A. last night; very diverse folks of all ages and colors, and the script was flipped, thanks in part to those protesters, and BLM was invited to open the rally! Other black groups passed out flyers both inside and outside the stadium and were applauded and well-received, part of the amazing tapestry of spirit I saw last night. The revolution that started with Obama is continuing!! It is still small and weak but it’s growing and it’s only a matter of time!!

  • JuanSotomayor77@yahoo.com

    The
    record of Mayor de Blasio on Latino inclusion in his administration has been a
    source of an on-going nearly two year controversy. Howard Jordan of The Jordan Journal
    heard Fridays 3-5 p.m. on WBAI
    interviews Gerson Borrero Editor-at-large of City and State, Javier Nieves of
    the Campaign for Fair Latinos Representation, and Robert Perez, Deputy
    Commissioner of Community Affairs for de Blasio. Last week this debate came to a head when the
    Mayor was booed at the Dominican Day Parade and City/State published a column
    by Borrero entitled “Latino
    Heat on de Blasio Brings “Kitchen Cabinet” Meeting to City Hall” (August 12
    cityandstateny.com) with questionable denials from City Hall. The controversy
    grew when Arnie Segarra, former Special Assistant to Mayor Dinkins appeared on
    NY1’s Inside City Hall offering a dismal defense of the Mayor’s record on
    Latinos. To listen to the interviews
    press or type link into your address bar http://bit.ly/1Nje5Si