The Worst False Equivalencies of 2016

Attempts to find “balance” between Trumpism and wholly unrelated phenomena to its left were tone deaf.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Adam Johnson / FAIR


A New National Progressive Movement Is Emerging in the Shadows of the Sanders Campaign

As Sanders fights for a California primary season finale, activists look ahead.

Source: Alternet

Author:Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The sun was hot. The shade was sparse. Yet they kept coming. For three-plus hours on Wednesday morning, several thousand Bernie Sanders believers of every stripe—college students cutting class, older retirees and labor activists, parents with teenage kids—wearing every imaginable Bernie pin, tee-shirt and baseball cap packed the dusty field at the Santa Clara fairground near San Jose, California. They more than eagerly awaited his arrival.

“He’s the best candidate ever,” one man blurted out. “Feel the Bern! Feel the Bern!” people spontaneously chanted. The sound system played Bob Marley, Neil Young, John Lennon and Steve Earle, who growled “The revolution starts now…” As they waited 1960s folk superstar Joan Baez took the stage and sang, “The opposition candidate is stirring up a fuss. She’s got the billionaires, he’s got us…”

Behind the bleachers stood a young man from nearby Santa Cruz, Jonathon Lachlan-Hache, handing out postcard-size flyers. “This is a new tool for local organizing,” he said repeatedly, giving out cards that urged people to use a website he created. lets activists put in locations and find and post campaign-related events, discussions, organizing—including for other progressive candidates. “I am absolutely determined” to keep the campaign’s energy going, he said. “The nomination happens at the convention. This is a close race still.”

Lachlan-Hache handed out 1,200 postcards. As he pulled out his smartphone to show some Sanders volunteers how to use his website, the campaign’s advance men were handing out orange wristbands to the most exuberant supporters so they could fill the bleachers behind the podium. Nobody associated with the campaign wanted to talk about anything other than the necessary steps to win big in California on June 7, where 475 delegates are at stake.

But at every Sanders event large and small—such as voter registration drives on university campuses—there are a range of people who are looking past the 2016 primaries and focusing on building a progressive movement. In some ways it’s an awkward moment for them, because Sanders and his very disciplined team is telling his supporters that they can win—even if media, academics, Democratic loyalists and others all say the odds are not there. He told the San Jose crowd that he’s beaten expectations all along, that he’s the best candidate to take on Trump, and he can take California, “the most important primary in the whole nominating process.”

But that hasn’t stopped many people from not just asking the obvious question, “Where does the progressive movement go from here?” but from taking new steps and actions even while the presidential drama unfolds. At every California Sanders event attended by AlterNet, there have been individuals like Lachlan-Hache who are doing what they believe is needed to build a new and sustainable movement—as they support the ongoing Sanders campaign.

Some are acting on their own. Some are part of online networks with dozens of volunteers and thousands of followers. Some are recently laid off Sanders campaign staffers who are creating what they hope will be national stages and tools for progressives to take back Congress. Some are planting the seeds for what they hope will be a new political party that will quickly become bigger than the Green Party. These are not the well-known public intellectuals of the progressive firmament who also are convening a People’s Summit in mid-June to discuss what’s next.

“We’re basically proposing a way to fix Congress in one fell swoop,” said Saikat Chakrabarti, a former Sanders’ staffer and Brand New Congress co-founder. “A big reason people don’t vote in midterms is that it currently feels very futile—at best, you get one or two progressive candidates to win, but those people won’t be able to do much in a Congress that is largely run by the current establishment. We are instead presenting a plan to put in a whole slate of progressive candidates at once, so voters will have a real option for big change.”

“We think for the first time in 100 years, and not because we’re special or smarter, but because of the situation with the Bernie movement, the United Progressive Party could be the first third party going from minor party status to major party status,” said UPP founder Justin Renquist. “We could see 30 to 50 percent of the Democratic Party, progressives, be so disgusted with this whole process and just leave… We are a populist leftist reformist movement that needs to come together. Let’s be the big tent party that the Democrats said they were, but are not.”

From the Bottom Up

Sanders and his most ardent followers have repeatedly said that change only comes when the people demand it. Ironically, the campaign itself is a very traditional top-down institution, where the messaging is tightly scripted and the millions raised equally tightly held. The campaign has not endorsed many candidates running for federal office and has mostly told volunteers to cover the costs of creating their campaign materials. On one hand, they are very disciplined—almost no one affiliated with the campaign or volunteering says they are free to talk to reporters. But their fiscal stinginess has also unleashed a remarkable army of self-starters whose efforts are creating a new foundation for an emerging and growing progressive movement.

The campaign, of course, believes that anyone under age 30 who they register to vote will likely support them. So late last week, they set up a San Francisco Bay Area voter registration tour of surrogate speakers—led by young hip Hollywood actors—that stopped at the major campuses. Like many campaign events, the first to appear were not these insiders, but the outside activists. That was the case at Stanford University, where Jay Blas Jacob Cabrera, who is also running for state Assembly, appeared with a variety of handouts: cards telling people how to register, voting options, and endorsements of other local progressive candidates.

“I am working every day to build the movement,” he said. “It is a movement. It is a thing in and of itself. If you listen to the people and listen to Bernie, it is getting government back to the people. The Bernie campaign is a subset of the people’s movement. It has been going on for decades. It is Occupy. It is Black Lives Matter. It is getting greedy corporations and oppressive systems out of people’s lives… We’re calling it the Bernie Movement and trying to build a Bernie Party.” Cabrera is energetic, deeply committed and typical of the people often drawn to campaigns—very one-minded. But the resources he has marshaled are remarkable. He described himself as a builder of networks. Beyond the website he created calling for a new political party in Sanders’ name,, or being endorsed in his long-shot legislative race by other like-minded groups not officially affiliated with the campaign, he has assembled online lists of progressives running for office across the country that rivals what’s on established websites like Democracy for America or Bold Progressives—nationally known campaign organizations.

It can be dizzying to hear him reel off websites, Facebook pages and other resources that he is working with and tapping to nurture a larger network. There are BernieThinkers, Berniecrats, SandersDemocrats, Expats for Bernie,SandersForPresident on Reddit (which Lachlan-Hache is part of), an offshoot called Grassroots Select that’s trying to help 2016 candidates, and more. To be sure, these groups and others are all doing what they think is needed to create a lasting movement, even if their efforts can be similar, overlap or exist in small bubbles.

Cabrera’s optimism is punctuated by fears that people might give up if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination. He’s discovered it can be lonely on the campaign trail as he runs for the Assembly. And he is a bit frustrated that the movement and networks he deeply wants to see emerge are sidelined as Sanders keeps pushing for a big California win on June 7. “The only reason I am involved in this is [because] Bernie talked about a movement. No other mainstream candidate has said that,” he said, saying that he ran as an Occupy candidate for Congress in 2014. “But now he is not supporting a movement. He is supporting his campaign.”

Bigger Circles

But unlike past presidential years, social media and the internet have drawn people like Cabrera into larger virtual communities. One such effort is called Grassroots Select and began through Reddit. Ian Boyd, its executive director, who lives in Kansas City, said that his group has 21,000 followers and a core of several dozen-to-100 active volunteers. The niche they wanted to fill was helping down-ballot candidates. Others groups, such as, asked for help in their grading and assessing progressive candidates, he said, to ensure they were adhering to Sanders’ agenda and values and not inauthentically riding on his coattails. “That is why we like them a lot,” Boyd said. That led to creating teams for research, writing, outreach and more. Where they are now is focusing on a handful of ongoing 2016 congressional primaries.

“There are these wonderful candidates that still need all this help,” he said, pointing to Alex Law, a 25-year-old running for New Jersey’s first House district with a June 7 primary, and Tim Canova, running against Democratic National Committee chairwoman and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s August primary. “Alex, who is 25 years old, is running an amazing campaign,” he said. “We’re trying to get donations, awareness, volunteers. We are trying to use Alex Law as this pure grassroots candidate that can stop corruption… There also is so much excitement about getting Debbie Wasserman Schultz out.”

Boyd said the progressive movement-building front is a bit splintered right now. He cited his co-director who was running and was “very busy” with Oregon and California. The movement-building role of the online community “has been filling out the narrative of what the Bernie campaign is,” he said, but added that many activists were waiting to see what unfolds with the nomination. “A lot of groups are trying to plan based on the results that happen. That narrative will change based on what will happen in Philadelphia.”

Grassroots Select didn’t want to do that, Boyd said. “We didn’t attach ourselves to Bernie’s campaign because we didn’t want to get hung up by the waiting that a lot of people are doing. We recognize Bernie’s accomplishments. We are not officially a Bernie group, but all of us are huge Bernie supporters.”

Brand New Congress?

Many of the activists now shifting their focus to building an enduring progressive movement were buried in the day-to-day, week-to-week, state-to-state Bernie campaign. That changed abruptly in late April when, after losing the New York primary, the campaign laid off scores of paid staffers who, in turn, then had to decide what they could do to keep working on a cause they so deeply believe in. One of the first and most impressive efforts to arise is called Brand New Congress, which is a new federal political action committee created just weeks ago that raised more than $40,000 from nearly 3,500 donors. Their goal is to garner support for hundeds of progressives running for the U.S. House and Senate in 2018 in a campaign that feels like Sanders’ campaign, co-founder Saikat Chakrabarti said.

“Our plan is to actually recruit these candidates (who will largely not already be politicians) and have them run under one plan and as a single unified campaign that looks a lot like a presidential campaign,” he explained by email. “So we’re talking here about recruiting and running over 400 candidates, creating a campaign infrastructure of probably at least a thousand volunteers and staff, building out a platform, creating grassroots offices in every congressional district, and creating a massive voter contact program (much like the one we saw on Bernie’s campaign) to try to contact every voter in every district that we are primarying.”

“It’s a fairly large undertaking,” Chakrabarti said. “It’s too late to do something this big for 2016 (many of the primaries for 2016 are already done and we don’t have enough time to build up such a large organization). In fact, we are already working quite a bit to get things set up for 2018 and recruit our candidates by early 2017. However, a lot of us will be working with existing groups focused on 2016 and we totally support efforts to back progressive candidates running this year.”

In an approach that’s not that dissimilar from Grassroots Select, he said the project will not just rely on small donors, but that they hope to provide campaign infrastructure elements so “our candidates will actually be able to spend all their time on the campaign talking to people and about the issues. Also, once elected, they won’t have to spend half their time fundraising like Congresspeople do currently since they will have been funded entirely by small dollar contributions on the web, just like Bernie Sanders.”

United Progressive Party

All of these movement-focused activists that AlterNet met, spoke to, or emailed with in the past week after attending several of Sanders’ events were in their 20s or 30s. It is truly remarkable that the Sanders campaign has become an epicenter for so many people who are dedicated to recasting the structures that underlie the political system. It very well may be that Sanders will win California on the same day that Hillary Clinton wins in New Jersey and declares herself the nominee. But even if that happens, Sanders will head to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with many more delegates than any Democratic challenger in a generation—far more than Jerry Brown in 1992 and Jesse Jackson in 1986.

In contrast to these youthful enterprises on the campaign trail, the steering committee of the United Progressive Party and their 12,000 members nationwide have been working for years on various progressive campaigns. They say they are quietly laying the legal and organizational foundation to launch a new national party that can be a non-dogmatic “big tent” that quickly can emerge after Philadelphia. Founder Justin Renquist, 50, said that it appears that Sanders’ bid to reshape the Democratic Party from the inside doesn’t look like it is going to work—as evidenced by the growing demands from party stalwarts backing Hillary Clinton to stop campaigning now.

Renquist said that UPP has to respect the voters who haven’t cast ballots in primaries yet and the Sanders campaign’s effort to finish the nominating season, which means waiting until after Philadelphia to step forward. He said they have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers ready to create chapters in many states. But beyond those nuts and bolts, he paints an intriguing picture of the need for a broad and inclusive new progressive party to emerge. In sum, he believes the Democrats would never let Sanders and his wing take over the party.

That tension was beneath the brusque treatment of Sanders delegates in Nevada’s ongoing nominating process last weekend. Even Sanders, in his speech in San Jose on Wednesday, when listing the establishment structures that his campaign had taken on, said, “In every state that we have run in, we have taken on the Democratic establishment. And in state after state, the people have stayed up and helped defeat the establishment.”

So where will Sanders’ voters go? In 2014, Renquist said the nation had 190 million registered voters: roughly 47 percent were independents, 30 percent Democrats, 23 percent Republicans. He said that the leading progressive alternative to the Democrats, the Green Party, was far too uncompromising, while other third parties like the Justice Party were too narrowly focused.

The idea is to get the fractured left onto one big umbrella and get people to set aside arguments that you are not purist enough,” he said. And depending on whether Clinton faces federal charges for using a private email server while Secretary of State, and how Sanders and his delegates are treated in Philadelphia, a great many voters could leave the party, Renquist said. “That independent portion of the 190 million could become larger than the Republican and Democratic voters put together. That creates a compelling case for a viable third party.”

A Growing Progressive Movement

Renquist’s reading of Sanders’ achievements, a shifting electorate, the Democratic Party’s internal dynamics and shortcomings of other third-party efforts could prove to be true—no matter which progressive organization grabs the mantle of creating a new party. Even the Green Party this week sent out a release saying that they would welcome Sanders’ supporters.

But back on the ground at Sanders events, it seems that the people who had the clearest view of the future of building a sustainable progressive movement were the young and accomplished activists who have been deeply involved in the campaign for the past year. They weren’t held up by or following the older templates and models for running campaigns—waiting for permission, endorsements and directions. They were creating new tools, new networks, new fundraising models and forging ahead fortified by their experience and knowledge from the campaign.

As creator Jonathon Lachlan-Hache said while handing out his flyers, the quick launch of Brand New Congress was “really impressive.” He especially liked their “one campaign, one plan, 535 candidates” focus. “The simplicity of their message is fabulous,” he said. “They have done a really good job of doing that, running a whole collection of local campaigns but having a presidential feel to it. And that’s how they explained it to me.”

His determination, like the passion of many others—individual networkers like Jay Cabrera, new group leaders like Grassroots Select’s Ian Boyd and Brand New Congress’ Saikat Chakrabarti, or world-be political party founders like Justin Renquist—all suggest a historic new progressive movement is emerging. “Waiting to be born—that’s a very good way to put it,” said Renquist.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting”


Donald Trump Is Dangerous to Women

His vision of America is one in which women have no rights—and it’s not far from becoming a reality.



Author: Kali Halloway

Emphasis Mine

There is perhaps no one in recent American political history who has outdone expectations as drastically as Donald Trump.

I do not mean this as a compliment. What I mean is that even as we have come to expect Donald Trump to say and be the absolute worst—to burrow beneath what previously seemed to be the garbage-strewn bottom—he continues to unashamedly dive to once unthinkable depths, outdistancing even the scavengers and bottom-feeders who preceded him.

An example of this occurred on Wednesday, when Trump stated that as president he would seek not only to ban abortions, but also to ensure that women who illegally obtained them would have to face “some kind of punishment.” Perhaps because the notion of criminalizing abortion and then exacting some kind of twisted revenge on women goes beyond even the rhetoric of the far-right anti-choice crowd, interviewer Chris Matthews gave Trump a chance to clarify his remarks.

“For the woman?” Matthews asked, being nothing if not specific.

“Yeah. There has to be some form [of punishment],” Trump replied.

This is a man who has built his political—and if we go back even further, his public—brand on sexualizing, degrading, insulting and vocally and enthusiastically hating women. He makes jokes about newswomen being on their periods, about a fellow candidate’s wife being ugly. He has said countless terrible things about many, many prominent women. And in kind, his supporters dedicate time at rallies to violently shoving teenage girls; to allegedly groping and macing them in the face. Even his campaign manager allegedly physically attacked a woman reporter for doing her job.

And yet, Trump still finds a way to be worse, to keep digging beyond this.

A few days ago, one of Trump’s key advisers—a woman named Stephanie Cegielski—resigned. On her way out, she penned an open letter that essentially accused Trump of being a know-nothing, power-hungry blowhard (I’m paraphrasing), whose entire persona may be contrived. Maybe that means that Trump is not the misogynist (racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, nativist, transphobe) he plays on TV—or on the campaign trail. Maybe it’s all just talk to win hardened, bitter hearts and minds, which he only wants because his lust for power can never be quenched.

Yeah, maybe. I honestly don’t know if Trump hates women, and frankly, at this point, I don’t care. None of us, at this point, should give a shit about Trump’s personal psychology. That’s a problem for his shrink, who can never be paid enough.

What’s more important is the fact that Trump either believes or plays to the most misogynist elements of this country, the consequences of which are very real. When asked about issues of importance—from women’s reproductive rights to whether he’s down with the KKK—he says yes and later sort of says no, a way of cynically and calculatedly playing both sides of the fence to be sure he doesn’t alienate those who see themselves in the mirror of his terribleness. (Case in point: His backpedalling on Wednesday’s remarks.) He stokes anger and hatred toward women and then stands back and watches as his crowd—who were pretty hateful to being with—has their worst ideas of women confirmed and even applauded. He revels in their bile and ignorance, offering a safe space to be a woman-hating asshole whose every problem would be solved if only feminism and Black Lives Matter would go away.

With these latest remarks, Trump is advocating for an America where women have no agency around their bodies, dangerous back alley abortions are the norm, and the health of women—especially those who have had the gall to have sex—is inconsequential. A United States where women are mostly seen—maybe, if they are pretty—but only heard when they’re saying what men want to hear. Poor women, women of color, LGBT women—these women in particular would be even more disenfranchised and invisible. Trump is helping guide us toward being a country where violence against women is okay, in both word and deed. It’s disgusting and frightening. And it’s not that far from being a reality.

Donald Trump stopped being funny a long time ago, but the Woman Hater’s Club he’s built will, I’m certain, find all new ways to be horrible. Be outraged, be angry, make fun of Trump’s supporters, but know that won’t stop him. We’re long past that point. Don’t just stand on the sidelines and ridicule him. Trump’s medieval America is too dangerous and backwards to just watch happen.


Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.



Report: Black Lives Don’t Matter To White Christians

Author:Michael Stone

Emphasis Mine

White Christians are less likely to believe and value the experiences of black Americans than non-Christian whites, according to a recently released Public Religion Research Institute survey.

Huffington Post reports the survey shows that while about 80 percent of black Christians believe police-involved killings – like the ones that killed Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, and so many more — are part of a larger pattern of police treatment of African Americans, around 70 percent of white Christians believe the opposite – that they are simply isolated incidents.

The Public Religion Research Institute reports:

White Christians are more likely than members of other religious groups – or whites as a whole – to say that the recent killings are not part of a broader pattern. More than seven in ten white evangelical Protestants (72 percent), white mainline Protestants (73 percent), and white Catholics (71 percent) believe that the killings of African American men by police are isolated incidents.

More to the point, the survey shows the numbers drop to around 65 percent when all whites, Christians and non-Christians, are surveyed. Thus, white Christians are as a whole less likely to believe the experiences of black Americans than non-Christian whites.

In his new book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, Jim Wallis, a progressive Christian writer and political activist, notes that racism is truly our nation’s original sin, declaring:

It’s time we right this unacceptable wrong.

In his new book, Wallis offers a call to action in overcoming the racism so ingrained in American society. In so doing Wallis speaks candidly to Christians – particularly white Christians – urging them to cross a new bridge toward racial justice and healing.

And while it is significant that white non-Christians are more likely to believe and value the experience of black Americans, the numbers for all whites are still too high.

The rampant abuse and killing of black people by law enforcement officers, and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system, continues to haunt the nation, and go far deeper than religious affiliation.

Bottom line: Black lives matter. The extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes are not isolated incidents, but part of a larger problem of police corruption and abuse that systematically targets African Americans.


Bernie Bias: The Mainstream Media Undermines Sanders at Every Turn

The pattern is to ignore, downplay and mischaracterize Sanders’ positions.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Rima Regas

Emphasis Mine

Who knew, when Bernie Sanders announced a run in the Democratic primary, that not only would he meet with hostility from his main opponent’s chief surrogates, but that the media would acquiesce and even collude to such a great degree?

When analyzing the quantity and content of the vast majority of what is said and written about Sanders, his campaign platform, and appearances, one finds a running theme across the so-called liberal media. The New York Times has been called out by more than one analyst, myself included, for its complete lack of serious coverage of Bernie Sanders.

Since joining the staff at the New York Times, Maggie Haberman has written about Sanders on fewer than a handful of occasions, while she has written about the other candidates in the race more often. While it is understandable that Hillary Clinton would be the subject of more numerous articles, it makes no sense for Martin O’Malley to have more articles written about him than Sanders, given the pecking order that emerged right from the start, yet that is what has transpired so far.

In articles that address various aspects of the Democratic side of the primary, Senator Sanders’ ability to succeed is always described in doubtful terms, even as Hillary Clinton’s troubles in the polls are being described. The New York Times has published fewer than a dozen pieces that are Sanders campaign-specific and each is problematic in the way he is portrayed. Most often, Sanders’ age and hair are highlighted, and the incorrect moniker “socialist” is applied. (Socialist and Democratic socialist are not interchangeable terms.)

While the age of a candidate might matter to some when thinking about a candidate’s experience or mental capacity, Bernie Sanders is 73, only six years older than Hillary Clinton. His mental capacity has never been a subject of contention. One can only conclude from the repetition of negative references, that writers are attempting to condition readers into thinking of Sanders as the “unkempt” elderly stereotype.

Most presidential candidates have been older than 60. Think of Ronald Reagan. The distance between 67 to 73, in human years, isn’t that significant from either the experiential or health standpoints. If anything, Sanders’ breakneck schedule, accounting for work in the Senate, crisscrossing the nation to hold rallies, and appearing on cable news shows demonstrates a high level of mental and physical energy.

The most harmful way anti-Sanders media bias has been manifested is by omission. In this respect, the New York Times is joined by the vast majority of the mainstream media in not typically reporting on Sanders, especially on policy. Overall there is  a version of a “wall of silence” built by the media when it comes to serious reporting and analysis of his policies; or when analyzing or reporting on the policies of his opponents, a failure to mention Sanders’ in contrast, especially when his is the more progressive position. This behavior hasn’t gone unnoticed by readers. You can see numerous complaints from readers about the Times organization’s bias toward Sanders. You see it in the New York Times comments section, on the Facebook pages and comments sections of all the major publications, and just about everywhere else. Readers complain about the lack of substantive coverage as well as the bias in what little is published. The Times’ Jason Horowitz’ piece, “Bernie Sanders Draws Big Crowds to His ‘Political Revolution” drew over 1600 comments, double what the most popular columns usually fetch, with most in protest over the obvious bias of the piece and the Times’ egregious lack of coverage of Bernie Sanders news.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has centered around economic justice and his plans to reform banking, taxation, trade, stimulate the economy, promote manufacturing at home, and institute jobs programs. I’ve yet to see side-by side comparisons of the top two Democratic candidates’ prescriptions for the US economy. Most economists and economic writers chose to publish pieces on the Clinton economic plan before she gave her speech. Few wrote about it after, and with reason: The speech didn’t deliver much in the way of specifics, and was vague about policies that the voting public expects. Sanders’ version of an economic plan has yet to garner serious analysis and discussion. Both Clinton and Sanders base their economic prescriptions on economist Joseph Stiglitz’ most recent work, Rewrite The Rules. Paul Krugman has, on three occasions, talked up Hillary Clinton’s economic platform, specifically on wages, without so much as mentioning Sanders. Clinton favors a minimum wage of $15 per hour in New York City, and $12 an hour nationally. Sanders has called for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour for everyone. The Times had reported, in May, that Stiglitz’ work would likely greatly influence Clinton’s platform. If it has, one wouldn’t know it, judging by subsequent writings.

Plan for Racial Justice

While news outlets were reporting on the disruptions of Sanders by the Black Lives Matter movement, few followed up on the story as Sanders began to respond positively. Sanders gave a major speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference on July 27. It received very little attention from the press. And within a week, Sanders delivered his answer to Black Lives Matter, by way of a plan. The New York Times has yet to make mention of Sanders’plan for racial justice, link to the senator’s website, or publish it outright in an article. And the media has ignored the fact that the racial justice plan has received praise among a number of Black Lives Matter leaders, including activist Deray McKesson.

Clarence Page recently wrote about Sanders in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune. He took a tack that many in the press now use: comparing and contrasting Sanders to Donald Trump. Given the kinds of controversy Trump has kicked up with his racial statements, and the treatment Sanders has received over his racial justice bona fides, it is no surprise that many of Sanders’ supporters are angry. Page begins his op-ed with: “The farther the left and right wings in politics move toward extremes, an old saying goes, the more they resemble each other.”

In any other context, that kind of contrast might have been fair, but not in a piece about Trump and Sanders. In his third paragraph, Page writes: “In recent days we have seen how both Trump, now a seasoned reality TV star, and Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, have faced sharp criticism within their separate political tribes for omitting or offending key constituencies.”

While it is true enough that Trump has been making racially offensive statements about all constituencies that aren’t key to his campaign, that same accusation does not apply to Bernie Sanders, who in stark contrast to his main opponent, has never, in 50 years of documented political activism and public office, uttered a racially offensive statement, or favored policies that are detrimental to minorities.

Page praises Sanders’ plan for racial justice, without any discussion of its points and then goes on to characterize the diversity of Sanders’ supporters: “But his impressively huge crowds have been even less diverse than his 95-percent-white home state of Vermont.” There’s not been a study or poll of the crowds at Sanders events. From what I could see of Sanders’ Los Angeles and New Orleans rallies, the crowds seemed to match the diversity of the locale. Of note is the fact that there hasn’t yet been a large-scale poll of the black community on its support of Sanders following the publication of his plan for racial justice.

Over a month after the publication of Sanders’ plan for racial justice, the media continues to portray him as someone who is racially wounded, when to begin with, that “problem” came into existence the day of the Netroots Nation disruption under the guise of eliciting needed policy from all candidates, even those who are considered friends. As the top Democratic candidate continues to owe such “needed policy,” Hillary Clinton continues to enjoy relative insulation from the perception of having any racial wounds, in spite of a record of promoting policies that have led to the very reasons for the birth of Black Lives Matter.

Over at Vox, coverage of Sanders by everyone but Ezra Klein has mostly been overtly negative. Dara Lind address a portion of the race issues in her interview of comedian Roderick Greer, who came up with the Twitter hashtag BernieSoBlack. But that piece contained much more than an explanation of some funny hashtag, and all of it was slanted in the direction of stripping Sanders of his civil rights achievements, even as the piece was titled to indicate Greer’s frustration at Sanders’ supporters. Attacking Sanders’ supporters and portraying them as racist or borderline racist has been a running theme in the press. Since his record on civil rights cannot be impeached and he has never committed a racial faux-pas, the only way to attack him on race is through his supporters, and that is how in piece after piece, Sanders’ record is being sullied.

The attacks on Sanders began with a curious refusal to give him any credit for taking part in the civil rights movement, and have been followed up by pieces designed to paint him as dispassionate about human rights and racial justice. Few are those who cite Sanders’ longstanding near-perfect rating by the NAACP and ACLU, or mention those, like Senator Cory Booker, who have spoken up in defense of Sanders’ lifelong record with the African-American community.

Since when don’t records matter?

Up until Bernie Sanders, a politician’s record has always been the measure by which evaluations are made. This is of particular import here because Sanders’ main opponent, Hillary Clinton, also has a very long record and it isn’t being scrutinized. When Clinton met with protesters in New Hampshire and she was confronted with policies of hers and Bill Clinton’s that have harmed the black community, little was made of it in the press. All chatter about Clinton’s behavior at that meeting has practically come to an end, and she has yet to publish her own policy proposals for racial justice.

Sanders has focused his tenure as a public official on economic justice. That doesn’t mean he paid no attention to racial justice. His stump speeches, with few exceptions, make mention of the racial disparities in our society. One example that comes to mind is Sanders’ appearance in front of the Council of La Raza, where he spent several minutes addressing racial disparities harming African Americans.

The characterization that Sanders’ position on solving the problems of racial injustice is through addressing economic inequality is patently false. Sanders has long been on record as saying that racial inequality is a separate problem that needs to be addressed in parallel. Almost to a voice, the U.S. mainstream press corps avoids any mention of that in order to cement the perception that Bernie Sanders isn’t serious about redressing America’s original sin.

At a time when economic and racial inequality are at their deepest, we are again at a similar moment in time as when the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was speaking out in favor of racial unity to fight poverty and inequality. In one of his last speeches, “The Three Evils of Society,” King described the conditions we find ourselves in today. His prescription came in the form of his Poor People’s Campaign, uniting the nation’s whites and blacks to fight for economic justice. It is painful to hear and read those who are intimately familiar with King’s speeches joining in the same behaviors as the rest of their colleagues in the media in praising Bernie Sanders and putting him down all at once, at times even using the very same Martin Luther King quotes included in Sanders’ plan for racial justice.

To Martin Luther King Jr., racial, educational and economic justice were always inexorably tied. To James Baldwin, racial, educational and economic justice were indivisible from each other. It takes a rare cynic who is well versed in the writings of Baldwin and King to use them as bludgeons against Sanders, all the while withholding salient facts from the public, so it can do its job as described in Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time:

“And here we are at the center of the arc, trapped in the gaudiest, most valuable, and most improbable water wheel the world has ever seen. Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, recreated from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!”

In the absence of fair media coverage, how do we create the consciousness of the others? How do we achieve our country? How do we avoid repeating history?

Rima Regas is a Southern California-based writer and commentator with a passion for progressive politics, and social and economic justice. Her career has included stints as a congressional staffer, graphic designer, technical writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter @Rima_Regas and Blog#42


Dylann Roof Is America

To pretend to be surprised by his crime is to be complicit in it.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Kali Holloway

Emphasis mine

In so many ways, the story of Dylann Roof, the shooting suspect who allegedly killed nine people in an historic South Carolina black church, is a parallel to the story of America itself.

Who, at this point, can feign surprise at this latest massacre when it sits at the nexus of so much that is familiar and perfectly in line with the U.S. that we know? We are a country where mass shootings are weekly news, where gun violence is a fact of daily life, where there is a legacy of terror against black people and communities, where white racists have long targeted black churches, where African-American life is so devalued it can be taken with impunity.

If you are shocked by any aspect of Roof’s story so far—including that he is being described in news outlets as “quiet and soft-spoken” instead of as a terrorist—you are not only willingly obtuse but complicit in his crime. There is a single conclusion to draw in this moment, and it is that we are here again, because this is exactly who we are.

It seems likely to me that Roof had some sense of this, that his own knowledge and recognition of history helped guide him toward committing this horrific crime. Emanuel African Methodist Church is one of the oldest houses of worship in the South, and it has long served—like the institution of the African-American church itself in this country—as a sanctuary and safe haven for black people from white racism. Though the roots of the church stretch back to 1787, its foundation is more firmly pinned to 1816. Six years after its establishment, when a slave rebellion plot was tied to the church in 1822, accused leader Denmark Vesey—a free black man—and five alleged co-conspirators were hanged and the church burned down. The date of that rebellion was to be June 17, also the date Roof walked into Bible study at the church, pretended to worship with parishioners for an hour, and then shot nine people to death.

I would wager that Roof knew not just that bit of history, but understood in his own perverse way what it meant to kill—to literally hunt—black folks in a space they were hopeful enough to believe was safe, and that he recognized his place alongside white racist terrorists like those who carried out the 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing that killed four black girls. (Not to mention those I’ve just written about, who burned the church itself down nearly two centuries ago.) Roof adorned his car with the same Confederate flag that once flew over slaveholding states and today waves over the South Carolina statehouse. America may be unwilling to face its history, despite a mounting pile of black bodies that forces African Americans to reckon with it daily. But Roof is more honest than those—and there are so many—whose complicity lies in looking the other way, in denying the past, in pretending that each new murder is an isolated anomaly. As long as they are unwilling to admit to our past’s stranglehold on our present, Roof and others like him will continue to draw truth, and strength, from the legacy and reality of white terror and supremacy. The lies white America tells itself cost actual black lives.

Before he pulled the trigger, Roof allegedly said to his victims, “I have to do it.” He continued, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.” At 21-years-old, Roof had fully absorbed the message his country has taught him, just like terrorists in every other country, in every other part of the world. He clung to the old American idea that white women are our most precious resource to be protected by any means, and felt it was his right as a white man to protect his birthright—this country and his privilege within it —which he saw as being taken from him. We are guns and violence and race hatred and systemic, codified, state-sanctioned terrorism against people of color and that is who we have always been. While our media is certain to attribute Roof’s heinous acts to mental illness (and the cops were careful to take him alive, which even the most innocent of black folks cannot count on), I consider him a particularly apt pupil. Just the latest of many. Though certainly not the last.