Above I mentioned how the Democrats are generally more unified than the Republicans but we've had the first real signs of cracks starting to form recently. For the second time Sanders was targeted by #BlackLivesMatter campaigners who got onto the stage at a recent rally, demanded (and received) the microphone, called the crowd white supremacists, demanded (and received) a four and half miniute silence for Michael Brown and then got the rally shut down entirely.
That's not the only one they shut down. The link you provided had a linked article telling about how the activists shut down a rally for Martin O'Malley, who they said had a better criminal justice package prepared for solving the problem
than Sanders did. I would expect to see this sort of behavior at any future Democratic rallies, with perhaps the exception of Hillary, simply because her rallies will be more planned out and secure and protestors trying to climb onto the stage to hog the mike will be likely to be met with stronger responses than what they got at the Sanders and O'Malley ones.
And of course
they got their demanded silence. Speaking out against silence for what was an unfortunate event has the hugely negative side-effect of making the speaker look like a total asshole, which is what the protestors were counting on. 'Nobody'll say anything, and if they do, then we call them racists.'
Sanders is in a lot of ways a soft target. Because he agrees that racism is an issue he's got some sympathy for the protestors, because his campaign isn't as stage managed as Clinton's it's much easier for people to get at him and because images of black women being beaten or arrested at his rallies would play horribly among his likely voters there's only so much security can do (hell, the image of an old, rich, white Jewish man telling black women to be quiet is bad enough on its own).
But beyond just being a soft target Sanders is also a target. Sanders has a long history of promoting racial equality but he's always treated racial issues as the symptom, not the cause to what he sees as the real issue; economic equality. He's in many ways an old school left winger who sees class and wealth as being of far more import than race/gender/religion/etc. The previous incident where #BlackLivesMatter protesters took over an event is a good example of that; Sanders was asked questions about racial inequality and responded by talking about economic inequality. But modern social justice advocates have tended to not only reject that view but actually declare it racist in and of itself. In the same way that they tend to see #AllLivesMatter as a racist response to #BlackLivesMatter they see someone talking about economic equality as a racist response to dealing with black equality, erasing black people from the story and not noting their lack of privilege.
It's hard to deal with that argument.
Only if you're looking at the here and now and not at the long-term picture. The idea that solving the problem of racial inequality can be addressed on purely a racial level sounds
appealing, but Sanders is absolutely right, racial issues are a symptom and not the underlying problem. The best way to solve the problem is to attack poverty, economic inequality, and other such seemingly indirect factors. The way to get cops to stop shooting unarmed black kids is not to tell them not to do it. The way to get it to happen is to break the perception of blacks as more criminal than other ethnicities. And the way to do that is to reduce the number of black people being sent to jail, and a prime way to do that is to help lift them out of poverty: a lot of people will turn to crime as a way to escape 'the hood,' or poverty, because they see no other option. The key is to give them options, give them choices, ones that don't involve crime.
A recent Young Turks newsstory talked about the shooting death of another unarmed teenager by a cop. Except this one was white, and it literally had all the hallmarks of the seemingly now-endless parade of 'cops killing unarmed black men' stories we see. The teen was going through a drivethru, the cop got suspicious and felt that there was something 'off' about him, he felt threatened, and responded with lethal force, even though the cop's story is currently somewhat suspect because of the evidence available so far.
The problem that spawned #BlackLivesMatter is bigger
than that. The problem is the increasing militarization of our police force, which is a response to the rises in crime and gang memberships and other criminal factors. Cops are now shooting first and asking questions later because they are told to take no chances with their lives, and they are being given military hardware but not the training soldiers and other armed forces members receive in how to use it
. De-escalation. It used to be a thing, but you hardly see the cops 'talk down' someone anymore. Because now it's just easier
to shoot them, despite the availability of public video recording devices these days, since unless you are highly, supremely evidently racist, cops can depend on the Blue Brotherhood to stand up for them.
I've already seen responses on social media to this latest occurrence which not only support the activists but say that what happened next actually proved them right. That Bernie leaving the stage shows that he has no interest in listening to black voices. That the fact that the crowd booed and dispersed once Bernie left showed that they were white supremacists. That the fact they'd rather listen to an old white man rather than black women shows that they are racist. Such people take the position that the protestors won a victory and revealed the racist nature of Sanders and his supporters.
Hillary's already indicated that she's going to go after Sanders on the subject of race and his view that the driving force is economic inequality. Every incident like this just makes that more likely and a stronger message.
I don't blame Bernie for leaving. After that display, the entire rally would have been about him
responding to the protestors
, rather than him presenting his ideas
to the crowd, to explain what his vision
is for fixing our problems. That's part of what a republic is all about - you listen to the ideas of the person you are electing, and then decide if you agree with them enough to vote with them to put them in office. If you want your ideas
in office, then you
should run, or we shouldn't be a republic but a straight-up democracy.
And the idea that he
has no interest in listening to them is just ridiculous. Sanders is about as left-wing as you can get in this race. If he
has no interest in listening to and helping black people, then there is no hope for them at all. The right isn't going to help them, that everyone knows. But if the left isn't really willing to stick themselves out there for them, then who is?
The protestors have won nothing
. Each incident like this afterwards only shows that this movement is going the same way the Tea Party movement went, too. If you remember, the Tea Party was a spontaneous grassroots movement that formed in response to the 2008 financial meltdown. But then that got co-opted by the far right, and now the face of the Tea Party are guys like Ted Cruz, who don't stand for the ideas that formed the initial Tea Party at all.
#BlackLivesMatter has much the potential to go the same way. It started as a way to address the problems of economy, crime, and police militarization, but now I'm seeing it become a cudgel for black people to shut up anyone who isn't. At the O'Malley event, the protestors chanted
at the host:
"Say that black lives matter; say that I am not a criminal; say my name."
And the head speaker said that "We are in a state of emergency. If you do not feel
that emergency, then you are not human.
Those are not ways to get people on your side - forcing people to say what you want them to say at threat of gunpoint, or calling people inhuman simply because their experience is not your own. Those are ways to turn people against you.
I may be wrong, and I probably am, but from where I'm standing, people who wave the #BlackLivesMatter flag don't care about fixing the problem, or justice
anymore. They want blood. They want heads on pikes. They want all white people everywhere to admit to white privilege and feel horrible about something they have no control over.
Is racism still a problem? Only an idiot
would say no. But the racism we're dealing with today is largely a matter of individual perception and education. To paraphrase a quote I heard on Law & Order a long time ago: we're past the drinking fountain stage. We're past the separate lunch counter stage. We're at the hearts and minds
stage, and there is no quick or easy solution to that
. The solution is, in essence, to get everyone people to see in terms of "people, who are X" rather than "X people."
But that takes time, effort, and nobody wants to be bothered with that in today's fast & instant world.