Beware the Clintons
Michelle Alexander powerfully explains why black people should be wary of Bill and Hillary Clinton [“Black Lives Shattered,” Feb. 29]. Here are a few more reasons:
• Both Clintons still support the death penalty, which disproportionately affects people of color.
• Hundreds, if not thousands, of Haitians fled their homeland during the Clinton administration. They were either sent back to Haiti or inhumanely detained at Guantánamo. (Cuban refugees during the same period entered the United States easily.)
• United Nations troops already in Rwanda might have prevented or lessened the horrendous genocide by shutting down hate-radio stations and confiscating major caches of machetes. The Clinton administration stymied such an intervention; 800,000 black people died.
• When opposition arose to the nomination of distinguished lawyer Lani Guinier to an important Justice Department post, President Clinton failed to support her.
• A reporter asked Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders whether masturbation should be discussed in sex-education classes. She said yes. Bill Clinton fired her.
Thank you so much for this article. I have followed Michelle Alexander’s work for years, and I consider The New Jim Crow to be essential reading for all Americans. In short, she is one of my true heroes, and I don’t believe it is possible to overstate her contribution to our national discussion on race. Again, thank you.
That said, I have two minor beefs with her article, and they are as follows: 1) She gives short shrift to Bernie Sanders’s career-long battle for social justice, including (but not limited to) fighting for desegregation and marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and 2) She makes no reference to the shameless race-baiting campaign the Clintons ran against then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008, including disseminating their little photo of Obama in Kenya (wearing the traditional garb of a Somali elder) and refusing to state categorically that Obama is a Christian (as then-Senator Clinton did on 60 Minutes). The Clintons in 2008 apparently concluded that ghettoizing drug references and feeding into a little Islamophobic “birtherism” might help them win, which was shameless and morally reprehensible. I feel strongly that Alexander should have included both of these significant points. James O’Donnell III
Michelle Alexander’s article failed to speculate on how much worse all the statistics she cites would have been had an unapologetic right-wing Republican been in the White House pushing a more extreme version of the same policies. Perhaps in an unavoidably right-wing time, Clinton did what he could to mitigate what he could not prevent. The ultimate blame lies with the right wing.
Stephen Van Eck
Occupying the Democrats
Heather McGhee and Ian Haney-López are right on that progressives should make a strong link between racism and white working-class disempowerment [“How Progressives Should Talk About Race,” Feb. 29]. I hope many Bernie lovers will send him copies of their article.
Michelle Alexander is also right on about the Clintons and their dog-whistle-echo politics. But she misses the point when she complains about “the Democratic Party.” We need to realize that there is no such entity. There are only the people who occupy the Democratic Party, especially the people who run for and win office under the Democratic label. The left is sadly short of such people at the congressional, state, and local levels. That needs to change: It’s our own fault, and merely complaining about it is useless.
This was a very insightful and well-written piece. I only hope the authors prepare a talking-points version of it and get it in front of Sanders, Clinton, and all other Democrats.
Déjà Vu All Over Again
It’s confounding that the Obama administration is replicating Reagan-era policies, repeating Elliott Abrams’s insistence from 30 years ago that refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are “economic migrants” almost verbatim, despite numerous federal-court decisions overturning administration policies [“A US Refugee Crisis,” Feb. 29]. Both Sanders and Clinton have declared their intention to end the detention/deportation system and close down private prisons that incarcerate migrants for profit. But it will take strong citizen pressure to ensure that they fulfill their promises.
Socialism for Socialists
At 74, like Bernie, this once-Republican refugee from suburbia has been waiting a long time to see a serious definition of socialism applied to good and practical reforms happening in America besides “progressive taxation” and “transfer payments” [“Practically Socialism,” Feb. 29]. By the way, like many municipal hotbeds of socialism, Brooklyn still owns its Borough Hall and Green Bay still owns its Packers. Thanks to my fellow historian Gar Alperovitz.
W. R. Everdell
Don’t Ignore Foreign Policy
I was surprised and dismayed that the otherwise enlightening articles on Hillary Clinton by Suzanna Danuta Walters and Liza Featherstone [“Why This Socialist Feminist Is Voting for Hillary” and “Why This Socialist Feminist Is Not Voting for Hillary,” Jan. 25/Feb. 1] made no mention of foreign policy. The United States has been at war almost continuously since the Korean War. Our war in Afghanistan is seemingly endless and makes no more sense today than it did nearly 15 years ago. Relations with Russia are just short of a deep freeze. President Obama has resisted Republican demands for even greater US military involvement in Syria, but those demands will continue to grow. Clinton supported the overthrow of Moammar El-Gadhafi, which left Libya in chaos and opened its arsenals to ISIS. She favors aiding the anti-government rebels in Syria and is a steadfast supporter of Israel despite its treatment of the Palestinians. Since the Republican candidates are frightening, I will vote for Clinton, but meanwhile I wish the left would put more pressure on her to adopt a foreign policy that emphasizes peaceful solutions rather than military confrontation when dealing with the world’s conflicts.
mill valley, calif.