Black Lives Matter Protesters Shoot Selves in Foot by Ruining Bernie Sanders Event
Protesters Shut Down Bernie Sanders Event in Seattle
Disrespectful Attack on Bernie Sanders Event Will Backfire
Once again, Black Lives Matter protesters have disrupted a Bernie Sanders political event. Two women stormed the stage and demanded the microphone, insisting that they be allowed to speak before the Democratic presidential candidate addressed the audience. Cowed by the brazen protesters, event managers ended up handing over the mic...but the audience was none too pleased. The protesters demanded four and half minutes of silence in memory of Michael Brown, the young black man who was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri one year ago.
When the protesters beckoned for Sanders to share the microphone, he bravely refused. The first time Sanders was interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters, at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix, he attempted to reason with them and continue his speech. Sanders stuck with his focus of economic reform and calmly reiterated that he had supported civil rights for the past fifty years, including marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result, he was criticized by "Black Twitter" and mocked with the hashtag #BernieSoBlack.
The incident revealed a divide between white progressives and nonwhite liberals, with nonwhites complaining that Sanders and his supporters were ignoring racism and prejudice to focus solely on the economy. White progressives fired back, accusing the protesters and their supporters of hypocrisy and shortsightedness.
In the aftermath, Bernie Sanders has indeed tried to focus more on racism and racial issues. Despite enjoying growing popularity, Sanders has struggled to attract nonwhite supporters. Some attribute this to his constituency, Vermont, being 95 percent white. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who is considerably more popular among nonwhite liberals, has not been targeted by Black Lives Matter protesters like have both Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley.
This time, the Black Lives Matter protesters went too far. They disrespected a wholesome political candidate and his audience of supporters, devolved the level of political discourse, and reinforced negative stereotypes about protesters. And, by attacking Bernie Sanders, whose rallies and events are free and open to the public, they are discouraging politicians from being so generous and inviting.
First, the disrespect is bad news. At a time when Black Lives Matter protesters should be attempting to gain public support, the women's brazen rudeness is off-putting. They were aggressive, ignored a compromise solution, and ruined the event for thousands. And for what? To protest against Bernie Sanders? To protest his policy proposals? No. They are just trying to get attention. Sanders and his policy proposals have been long applauded for having the ability to tremendously help nonwhite workers.
Bernie Sanders is the presidential candidate who has been the strongest supporter of civil rights. It is tremendous irony that he, the most devout civil rights supporter, has been targeted twice by Black Lives Matter protesters while his primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, has not been similarly challenged. Frankly, it almost seems like the protesters are paid pawns of the Clinton campaign!
Or, it could simply be that Clinton avoids holding the free and open rallies which Sanders enjoys. By keeping the general public at bay, Clinton also avoids being confronted by protesters. I hope the rudeness he faced in Seattle does not dissuade Sanders from being an open, supportive champion of the common man. I hope he continues to keep his events free and open. He handled this latest challenge with grace and poise, and I applaud him.
By storming the stage and yelling, the protesters have not only hurt Bernie Sanders, but all political discourse. They want to play the game where those who howl, gibber, and shriek the loudest make the rules. Ironically, this itself is a form of oppression: The loud and aggressive oppress the calm and polite. Instead of debate and discourse, the protesters want to sway through intimidation. They expect to be able to bully their way into getting what they want. By refusing to cave to their whims, Bernie Sanders showed courage and leadership.
Finally, the protesters have harmed their own cause through their rude, brash actions. They have reinforced stereotypes that protesters are aggressive, bullying attention-seekers who are more interested in shock and intimidation than causing real change. They have reinforced stereotypes that protesters are more interested in argument than in discourse. They shout, but do not listen in turn.
And by targeting Sanders for a second time, instead of challenging a Republican candidate or Hillary Clinton, the protesters seem opportunistic rather than righteous. They seek Sanders because he is popular and, by disrupting one of his events, they can garner lots of media attention. The protesters are taking advantage of Bernie Sanders merely to get press. If they sought real change, wouldn't they try to gain concessions from the candidate who allegedly is most likely to end up in the White House?
Since Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner, shouldn't she be the focus of Black Lives Matter protesters? Isn't she the candidate who can most likely make good on any promises made to them? Perhaps the protesters can't afford the $2,700 a plate to get close to her, though...
Summarily, the protesters have done little to advance their cause. Rather, they revealed heaping helpings of hypocrisy and tested the public's patience. And, controversially, they championed Michael Brown, whose death has been determined by both local and federal authorities to not have been a homicide. Instead, officer Darren Wilson has been found to have acted justifiably, in self-defense. Had the protesters wished to accomplish something meaningful, they would have agreed to speak eloquently and passionately after Sanders spoke. They would have caught more flies with honey. Instead, they spewed vinegar.
Bernie Sanders did the right thing by refusing to cave to the protesters' demands. He demonstrated calmness, restraint, courage, and true leadership.