Friday, February 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton's Racism

The forcible removal of a female Black Lives Matter protester from a Hillary Clinton fundraiser this week, and the shocking, forcible removal of a female black student from a classroom last October, differ only in the level of state-sanctioned physical power employed.

Each incident occurred in South Carolina. Each incident was an example of white supremacy at its most blatant. Each incident was designed to belittle the alleged culprit and to put her in her place. Each incident was a power play with the express objective of emotionally scarring the target and protecting the designated authority figure. 

While the expulsion of Ashley Williams from Hillary's high-end fundraiser was accomplished relatively gently, due to the venue and a sensitive audience of the rich, powerful and white, the other incident was effected violently in a high school classroom peopled mainly by poor students of color. The fundraiser ejection occurred in a milieu whose inhabitants are used to being coddled and given an outsize voice. No expensive furniture was overturned or otherwise damaged. The school ejection occurred in a milieu which is authoritarian and oppressive by its very nature, where docility and silence are expected from the audience, where both the plastic furniture and the bodies are expendable. 

When Ashley Williams interrupted Clinton, demanding that she apologize for having once called black youths "superpredators," all it took for the security detail to spring into action was Hillary's own reaction to the protester. When Hillary made it abundantly clear to her armed guards that she was miffed and uncomfortable, her questioner was escorted out (despite having paid the $500 price of access to the candidate). The audience immediately sided not with the evictee, but with the most powerful woman in the room. They all breathed a sigh of relief, showing class and racial solidarity with the powerful woman who was there to listen to their express concerns. "Okay, back to the issues," barked Clinton. Or should I say, "dog-whistled Clinton?"

When the South Carolina student refused to stop talking on her cell phone last October, the school cop upended her desk and body-slammed her to the floor before dragging her out of the room. That audience did not cheer or sigh in relief. Not at all. They were in shocked disbelief. One of them later would later share cell phone video of the incident with the whole world.

Racism in schools and the existence of the school-to-prison pipeline has long been a reality accepted by most people with eyes, ears and brains. Racism at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, however, was more than a little eyebrow-raising, given that the candidate is running as a champion of black people, and is even said to possess a magical Firewall in states and counties with majority black populations.

The whole impetus of the fundraiser protest was an old speech that the then-First Lady gave while lobbying for the infamous crime bill which has sent record numbers of black people to prison over the last two decades. The video of the confrontation is now going as"viral" as the previous South Carolina incident, and right on the eve of the South Carolina primary. Hillary Clinton is still expected to win it handily. This is due to the special bond that she and Bill have always enjoyed with black voters (or more accurately, the special bond they have elicited from the black political establishment.) It will be interesting to see whether the final tally reveals any breakdown between older and younger black voters. It will be interesting to see whether voters declare their emancipation from the Clinton Protection Racket and the younger generation goes for Bernie Sanders's inclusive platform of social, economic and racial justice.

Hillary and Bill have always been dog-whistling, if not outright, racists. Before Bill, as primary presidential candidate and Arkansas governor, executed a brain-damaged black man named Ricky Ray Rector in order to give himself an electoral boost with the law-and-order crowd of Reagan Democrats, before he played golf at a segregated country club and then claimed it wasn't really segregated because it employed black people as waiters and caddies, before his rebuke of Sistah Souljah over rap lyrics, Bill used convict slave labor at the governor's mansion. He allowed the Confederate flag to fly high above the state capitol.

And Hillary was just fine with that, despite her current boasts of "fighting for" the rights of black children under her erstwhile mentor, Marion Wright Edelman. (As has been widely reported, the Edelmans broke with the Clintons 20 years ago, when the First Couple championed passage of welfare "reform," and sent millions of mothers and children into outright poverty at the stroke of a triangulating pen.)

I wrote about Hillary's adventures with her black slave convicts in a previous post, quoting directly from her own book, "It Takes a Village". She wrote her neoliberal polemic on the care and treatment of children at about the same time that she made her "super-predator" speech. It dog-whistles its racism right on the front cover, which shows  three white children standing nearly at a level with the great lady herself. The much shorter, token black child in the picture has the entire bottom part of his or her face cut off.  It's impossible to tell the race or ethnicity of the fifth child.

Clinton's opinions on child-rearing and behavior are based partly upon her personal experience directing the unpaid labor of her black prisoners. Although she was careful to repudiate "The Bell Curve" eugenics theory of race and intelligence then in vogue, she didn't entirely rule out biology-as-destiny as a factor in black crime, either. She did what the Clintons have always done best. She triangulated. She professed surface sympathy for black youths at the same time that she blamed them and their parents for their own behavior. Never did she blame wealth inequality or white racism. "It Takes a Village" was, in fact, a not very subtle dog-whistle to liberal white racists.

A 1995 pop psychology book by Daniel Goleman called "Emotional Intelligence" provided the intellectual basis for her theories on young black offenders who "need to be brought to heel." Their problem, she theorized, is that they are unable to integrate their rational brains with their emotional brains.
The power of emotion is equally dangerous if it is not harnessed to reason. People who cannot control their emotions are often prone to impulsive overreaction. They may be quick to perceive threats and slights even when none are intended, and to respond with violence. They are in Goleman's phrase, "emotional illiterates." Many of the gang members interviewed as part of a recent study released by Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate the illegal use of firearms fit this profile. More than one in three said they believe it is acceptable to shoot someone who "disses" them -- shows them disrespect.
So many dog-whistles in just one little paragraph. Leave aside that Clinton quotes the uber-racist Janet Reno's alleged study --  Clinton absolutely does equate gang members with vicious dogs which must be brought to heel. I imagine that one out of every three pit bulls also tends to overreact when its personal space is violated. What Hillary is essentially claiming is that black youths are biologically violent, due  both to their untrained emotional brains, and their underdeveloped rational brains.

She then liberally allows that early experience also plays a role in the neurobiological basis for black youth crime.
Some experts speculate that the brains of emotional illiterates are hard-wired early on by stressful experiences that inhibit these mechanisms and leave people prey to "emotional hijacking" ever after. Most of us don't habitually react with impulsive violence, but most of us "blow our tops" from time to time.
This paragraph is another dog-whistle: blame the epidemic of black youth crime on Reagan's welfare queens. The Clintons' solution? Reduce the welfare rolls by 60 percent by the time they leave office and force poor mothers to virtually abandon their infants. This abandonment will supposedly save the children from all that bad mothering and mental abuse and brain pathology. Hillary lectures on:
Most people learn how to avoid emotional hijackings from the time they are infants. If they have supportive and caring adults around them, they pick up the social cues that enable them to develop self-discipline and empathy.
Hillary's glib solution to the alleged epidemic of bad black mothering and her goal to "bring civility our streets" is to teach children empathy in the classroom. Even when black people become adults, she boasted, it's never too late for white people to teach them how to behave, whether it be in the workplace or in the prison. She should know. She was a virtual schoolmarm to her own Arkansan black slave convicts back in the day:
The structure imposed by the responsibilities of work and the enlightened assistance of concerned people in the prison system and at the governor's mansion helped those onetime murderers I knew in Arkansas to achieve a greater understanding and control over their feelings and behavior.
Hillary Clinton makes right-wing New York Times columnist and "black culture" concern-trolling expert Ross Douthat seem like a raging progressive.

I'll say it again. Once a Goldwater Girl, always a Goldwater Girl. It's ironic that a woman professing to be such an expert on "emotional intelligence" resides in a plutocratic bubble so largely devoid of it that she sees no problem in accepting millions of dollars from the same banks that have evicted thousands of black and poor subprime mortgagors from their homes while also engaging in a long-standing policy of racist real estate red-lining.

In any event, the emotional intelligence theory also has its own dark side. The teaching of it can actually enable some bad people to hide their own natures more effectively. One of the main talents of psychopaths is to project a glib, slick set of of emotions that they don't inherently possess. If emotional intelligence can be acquired, it can also be used to fool people. I suppose we should be grateful that Hillary has not yet mastered this "I feel your pain" art as well as her husband. Most people do not trust her, and with very good reason.

If the pundits are right, the next presidential contest will be between two unabashed racists. That one of them has a flimsy, damaged filter, and the other (Trump) has no filter at all, is moot. If either one of them is elected, unabashed fascism will remain a feature, not a bug, in the Feudal States of America.

Hillary Clinton is again trying to do damage control, issuing a written apology for her super-predator comments. "I shouldn't have used those words, and I wouldn't use them today," she told The Washington Post. She didn't say anything about retracting claims made in her first memoir, however. Maybe somebody will read it, and confront her on her characterization of black youths as "emotional illiterates."

Ms. Williams is still awaiting an apology from Clinton, both for her racist remarks "pathologizing black youth as these criminal, animal people" and for having her evicted from a function which she had paid to attend. 


Kat said...

"Each incident was designed to belittle the alleged culprit and to put her in her place."
No, Ms. Williams was engaging in an act of protest. More power to her courageous actions. She put Ms. Clinton in her place. Why deny her agency?

Kat said...

I bet Ms. Williams wasn't emotionally scarred. She was probably energized.

Karen Garcia said...


If you believe that I am denying Ms. Williams agency by pointing out the malign intent of the security forces that judge people solely by the color of their skin, and pointing how much the color of skin discomfits some white people, then you have seriously misread my post. If I'd wanted to deny agency to the protester, as you claim, then I wouldn't have included the video. Her agency and her courage speak for themselves.

I never said that she was belittled or emotionally scarred. What I said was that it was the intent and the purpose of the powerful people at both the fundraiser and in the school to belittle and emotionally scar their perceived targets. They always want to "send a message," Of course, this tactic has backfired in both instances. Gotta love those viral videos.

I, too, highly doubt that the protester has been emotionally scarred by this incident. She has energized herself as well as millions of other people. She may even have helped tilt the outcome of this election.

I've written in the past that what we need in these endless campaigns are more hecklers and more protesters. So, I honestly don't get where you're coming from in your criticism.

Pearl said...

In the photo of the confrontation with Hillary in the photo above on your column Karen, the young black woman from Black Lives Matter is holding a sheet and a photo from Huffington Post showed what was written on it:

"We have to bring them to heel", Hillary Clinton.Which had a date I couldn't make out. This was a comment recalled when Hillary remarked about problems dealing with blacks some years ago.
Also at this confrontation Hillary told the young woman that she was rude.

I don't know if an access to this article I sent in after your previous column had this information in it. There were also other details which were interesting about the reply to Hillary by the young woman.

Pearl said...

Reminds me of the confrontation by Eartha Kitts in l968 with Lady Bird Johnson at a White House reception, condemning the Vietnam war and what it was doing to America citizens. Eartha was criticized for making Lady Bird cry.

Karen Garcia said...


The entire exchange between Hillary and Ms. Williams is both in the video I included, and in separate links (Intercept, WaPo) I provided in case the audio isn't clear. The exchange, like so many candid political moments these days, appears to have been captured via cell phone.

I would not be surprised if, like Obama before her, Hillary starts banning cell phones fromher fund raisers. This is what once got Obama in trouble... remember his "clinging to guns and religion" comments? At subsequent fundraisers, he had his security detail search bags, etc for secreted cell phones and other recording devices. They were all temporarily stashed in plastic garbage bags when Obama delivered his various spiels to the rich and well-connected. I wrote a post about it during his re-election campaign against Romney, who got done in by his 47 Percent gaffe.

Pearl said...

Karen: thanks for the information. The word that was the access to the video, "demanding" was very faint (see below) and I had missed it. It showed more than the Huffington Post did and I hope others did not miss this important information.
Great column. My head is swimming from the morning headlines with a Governor Christie leading a Nazi march for Trump. I often think I am not awake yet and having a horrendous nightmare so must read the news later in the day. But then that brought in Krugman and the depressing comments about the real nightmare we are living through. Can't win.

When Ashley Williams interrupted Clinton, --demanding-- that she apologize for having once called black youths "superpredators," etc.

Jay–Ottawa said...

The country needs more like rude Ashley Williams to disrupt the routines of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. She is a brave person to do what she did. And she is clearly savvy. Talk about a "community organizer." She's the real McCoy. This took planning. She's got to be part of a team. Ashley is engaging in a variation of the protests and boycotts we need to shake the foundations under the plutocrats and their enablers. She wasn't buying Clinton's line and––this is important––she was quick to explain why with clarity in order that her action not be dismissed as a form of inchoate nihilism.

Was the incident filmed by an associate so that the revolution could be televised? I doubt she came alone. After hearing her side of the incident, which got her in front of the cameras as a guest on CNN, it's clear she is knowledgeable, articulate and as quick as a good trial lawyer.

She is a leader to counter the leaders we have got to get rid of without ceremony. Many more like Ashley are needed to challenge the PTB nonviolently but effectively. See how she now has the Hillary team scrambling. Yes, I want ten like her to step up every day of the week between now and November to put their statements forward in contradiction to the propaganda that fills the news cycle.

The warriors of old for the middle and lower classes are dead, were frozen out, or they made peace and mind their manners with the plutocrats and the fascists. Only the bold need apply to replace the old liberal class. Only they have the right stuff to shut up Hillary, Trump and the rest. Surely, there is a reserve within the 99% of people like Ashley who could act out from this side of the class divide. If the overdue revolution ever comes, it will be advanced by a critical mass of smart, tough, young people like Ashley. It takes a village to dump a rotten chief.

Kat said...

"the malign intent of the security forces that judge people solely by the color of their skin, and pointing how much the color of skin discomfits some white people" I
but how do you know that? If you've participated in any small protest you know that you are going to be met with scorn. I don't think a white woman who showed up with a sign asking her to release her speech transcripts would have been treated any differently. Generally, when you protest you are treated as if you are doing something wrong-- ours is a culture that tells people you have to remain positive. Any sign of anger is met with "well what are you doing to make things better" as if change comes from never questioning and remaining positive at all costs.
And I don't think white people have any lock on self satisfaction or marginalizing marginalized people further. I can tell you that from what goes on in my city.

Jay–Ottawa said...

How did it go in the schoolyard confrontations back in the day?––"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Ashley Williams has published a statement on Twitter that rejects Clinton's cheap apology focused on wording. Williams puts the focus on the sticks and stones part, the hard reality that flowed from the Clinton Crime Bill.

These Carolina activists are smart and well advised. Ashley's statement is as tight as a lawyer's damning document laid before the Supreme Court. Activists want Clinton to own up to the deeds, not just the words.

"While Clinton's choice of words in that speech were racist and offensive, it is the impact of the policies that she vigorously championed that should give us all pause."
"The 1994 Crime Bill that she [Clinton] so vigorously defended not only expanded incarceration, but stripped funding for college education from prisoners. The Clinton legacy allowed for policies that prevented anyone convicted of a felony drug offense from receiving food stamps or income assistance. Clinton-led welfare reform fundamentally ripped apart the social safety net."
"Make no mistake. Hillary Clinton's efforts to push these policies resulted in the continued destruction of Black communities and the swift growth of our mass incarceration crisis."

Karen Garcia said...


How do I know that, you ask.

Beginning in the mid-70s, I covered a city with a 90% black population (policed by a mostly white force) for a daily newspaper with an all-white, mostly male, editorial staff. I covered a couple of race riots and many protests, many court proceedings, in a city that was/is very much like Ferguson. Believe me, I know institutional racism probably as much as it is possible for any white person to know it. I have seen, first hand, that cops and judges and politicians treat black people and white people very, very differently.... no matter what the social setting. I've been at protests and other scenes of "civil unrest" where black people have been beaten up and white people have been left alone.

Yes, white protesters are also generally treated as though they are doing something wrong, as you say, but for the most part they don't have to fear getting assaulted or arrested on a trumped-up charge. Usually any arrest is for obstruction of governmental administration, or some-such, and release is swift and painless.

Did you watch the video of the protest at the Clinton fundraiser that I embedded? If one of those rich white ladies-who-lunch (who hissed and booed the protester, by the way) there had interrupted Hillary, I do believe that she would have been treated a lot more politely than the black protester was. Luckily for Ashley Williams, she was in a rich white person's home -- by paid admission! -- at the time. If she had been at a Trump rally, or in an all-black classroom with a cop on duty, she probably would have ended up in the emergency room. Yes, I do believe that a white person complaining about taxes or whatever they complain about at these affairs would absolutely not have been treated with the same icy disdain that Hillary Clinton projected toward Ms. Williams.

I don't buy into arguments over whether we have a class problem, or whether we have a race problem. I think we have both. They are intertwined.

I do agree with you that whites don't have a lock on marginalizing already marginalized people. Black cops can be every bit as abusive as white cops. Sometimes even more so, because they have to "prove" something to their bosses. And then there was Bill Cosby and his pound cake scolding routine, and the Obamas' habit lecturing black kids on respectability.

Meredith NYC said...

How do we know it's skin color?

Nobody is going to admit that it is. Can't prove it.
The history of the USA is full of plausible deniability of racism. This is a built in conflict in our history—slavery and it’s long lasting aftermath vs the Bill of Rights and American ideals—leads to continuing schizophrenia, rationalizations, reality denial. We see this playing out now with Clinton and her defenders. People can always point to a myriad of other factors that plausibly caused biased treatment, mostly blaming the victims of bias.
And that's the whole story of our police abuse now, for example, and the non accountability of cops who kill unarmed blacks. The suspect was furtive or resisted arrest or, this is a high crime n.hood, and the residents themselves want safety, we have to stop/frisk 700,000/year in NYC b/c there's too many guns,and drugs... or, etc. Nobody asked, what would happen if cops stopped 700,000/ per year in rich white areas of Manhattan. What would the cops find, and what would be the reaction all over the media? Now there's a subject for a movie.

Sure whites with signs interrupting Clinton's talk might also be ejected. And I recall the white advocates for single payer ejected on TV from the Max Baucus hearings on health care. This just proved it was impossible to even discuss solutions that are common and accepted in other democracies.

But with Ashley Williams's ejection, the topic was directly related to treatment of minorities, and Clinton's prior record of speech and policy.
The media pundits are not dealing with Clinton's problems, they just keep saying she has the black vote and Sanders doesn't. But why?
A self fulfilling prophecy?

So we can continue the American deniability of racism because it can't be 'proved'. We have to look at the long standing, widespread, undeniable, obvious pattern, and draw inferences. Then we hear the accusations of the ‘race card’, and pandering. It was ever thus.

Meredith NYC said...

Any comment on the split in how relatives of blacks killed by police are seeing Clinton vs Sanders in this issue? How do you see this?

See articles in Boston Globe, CNN and other sources:

Eric Garner’s family reflects split among black voters....the family is divided in supporting Sanders vs Clinton.

Erica Garner, 25, is backing Sanders...Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother 66, publicly supports Clinton, writing .... Clinton “seems to be the only candidate right now who’s talking about how we can be strategic’’ in fighting police brutality.”

Supporters of Clinton include the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis.

Some of these relatives are publicly campaigning and appearing in ads for either Clinton or Sanders.
What is the explanation for this divide? What is each side seeing in their candidate?

Perfect topic for a Charles Blow column--someday.

Karen Garcia said...


In my own experience covering the police and courts, racism was very much out in the open. It was also very much out in the open in the newsroom. The N word was uttered with abandon, as were racist jokes. One of these days I will write some substantive posts on my experiences.

But here is one: After one of the race riots, the black ministers in the city convened a meeting with the white newspaper publisher and editors to discuss the r lack of a black reporter on staff. As a result, in an effort to quell some of the unrest, the black ministers recruited a journalism student from Chicago to intern with the paper for the summer. Since I was the youngest and one of few women reporters on staff, she was assigned to me. Every story that summer, we covered together. We were assigned to all the "black" stories and events, such as rallies. We covered a protest against the Vietnam War at West Point, and a speech by Nelson Rockefeller, among other memorable occasions. We shared a mutual hatred for our newspaper bosses, the war and the generals, and right wing politicians. I really had fun, for the first time, at work.

When Pam (that was her name) was out of earshot, the editors would often make fun of her and mimic her accent and hair and weight and make racist remarks. They actually thought they were punishing me by assigning her to me. Yeah, they were sexist as well as racist little SOBs. Little did they know!

I was really sad when she left to go back to school. She eventually got a job teaching journalism at Northwestern. When my editors got wind of this, you know what they said? "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Real original.

That was 30 years ago. Only the blatant language has changed.

I think if we can just find a little solidarity instead of dividing one another into groups, we might be able to give the plutes a run for their money.

We'll probably learn more about any age breakdown among black Democratic voters from the SC exit polls.

Meredith NYC said...

Thanks Karen, a fascinating story. I'm sure you have many. You could write a book, for sure.

Kat said...

Who said anything about race v. class? I agree that the two are often intertwined-- but that is not what I was getting at. As for white people not facing harsh punishment and surveillance I'll have to beg to differ. I think the nature of the protest comes into play here. Look at what happens to the more radical animal rights or environmental activists.
The phrase that made me think about not acknowledging agency was actually "each incident was designed". I felt Ms. Williams was the one doing the designing of the incident. She knew she would be escorted out as a gate crasher.
I suppose I'm feeling frustrated because I simply don't want to say we can know someones motivation. For instance, perhaps Nevada caucus voters were feeling pressure to vote a certain way or perhaps the voters for Hillary actually preferred her. We don't know.
I watched the video. It is not like it was not all over the internet. Weren't there men in attendance too? It is hard to tell, but was it only women hissing?
I think the selling out goes beyond cops. I wasn't even thinking about cops to tell the truth.

Kat said...

Here is what I am getting at: this is the top reader comment to a story about the Clinton rout in South Carolina:
I mean no disrespect whatsoever to Hillary Clinton or black voters, but what persuades them she is a better choice on black issues than Bernie Sanders? Genuinely curious.
Why would someone write that? They speak about black voters like they are all the same or that they vote on "black issues". Maybe many of them have the same reasons that a white person votes for Hillary-- they are happy with the status quo. If I were black I would be offended to read such a comment, (even if I wasn't a Hillary supporter which I most definitely am not).