Bernie Sanders on Trump? Echoes of Martin Luther King on Jim Crow (audio) | #DemDebate on Blog#42

Sanders’ explanation of Trump’s success with racist right-wing whites describes the billionaire to a T:

“What you have now is a very dangerous moment in American history. The Secretary is right. Our people are fearful. They are anxious on a number of levels. They are anxious about international terrorism, and the possibility of another attack on America. We all understand that. But you know what else they’re anxious about? They’re anxious about the fact that they are working incredibly long hours, they’re worried about their kids and they’re seeing all the new income and wealth — virtually all of it — going to the top 1 percent. And they’re looking around them, and they’re looking at Washington and saying, ‘The rich are getting much richer. I’m getting poorer. What are you gonna do about it? What are you going to do for my kids?’

And somebody like a Trump comes along and says, ‘I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they’re criminals and rapists, we’ve got to hate the Mexicans! Those are your enemies! We hate all the Muslims because all of the Muslims are terrorists! We’ve got to hate the Muslims!’ Meanwhile, the rich get richer. So what I say to those people who go to Donald Trump’s rallies — understand, he thinks a low minimum wage in America is a good idea! He thinks low wages are a good idea. I believe we stand together to address the real issues facing this country, not allow them to divide us by race or where we come from.”

Sanders’ explanation perfectly dovetails Martin Luther King’s recounting of how poor white man was taught to eat Jim Crow:

“If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. (Yes, sir) He gave him Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, (Yes, sir) he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. (Right sir) And he ate Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. (Yes, sir) And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, (Speak) their last outpost of psychological oblivion. (Yes, sir)”

To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.”

Martin Luther King, 1965, Selma

Trump providing ISIS fodder for recruitment has been debunked. Trump accelerating the resurgence of Jim Crow is a real and quantifiable threat.  Without the media’s obsessive coverage of Trump, he would have had to dip into his campaign coffers and spend far more than the mere $300,000 he has spent so far, as compared to the combined $32 million Jeb Bush and his PACs have fruitlessly spent to combat him. The mainstream media easily made Trump’s candidacy. Were it willing, the media could just as easily suffocate that candidacy with silence.

Reading resources:

Top quotes and my analysis of the last Democratic debate

My riff on MLK’s “Three Evils of Society” here.

Bernie Sanders’ platform on racism and racial justice

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton’ platform on racial justice is a part of her platform on criminal justice


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