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Hillary Clinton’s Race Problem

When Hillary Clinton was endorsed by Will Quigg, a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in California, many observers were skeptical that the statement of support for the presumptive Democratic nominee was genuine.  Indeed, some went so far as to argue that the very public backing of Clinton by a white supremacist of Quigg’s standing was a diversionary tactic designed to either smear Clinton or distract attention from former grand wizard David Duke’s endorsement of Donald Trump, which the presumptive Republican nominee failed to disavow.  Regardless of whether the support of Clinton was genuine or not, the fact of the matter is that Clinton policies have indeed been unconscionably destructive for Black Americans, and other people of color.

Hillary Clinton was a vocal advocate of her husband’s infamous 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (aka the “Crime Bill”) which disproportionately targeted people of color and led to the rise of the phenomenon that has come to be known as mass incarceration or, as Michelle Alexander famously dubbed it, “The New Jim Crow.”  As Alexander noted in The Nation in February 2016, the Clintons and their odious Crime Bill are responsible for:

* the largest increase in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history

* the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine, which produced staggering racial injustice in sentencing and boosted funding for drug-law enforcement.

* the idea of a federal “three strikes” law

* a $30 billion crime bill that created dozens of new federal capital crimes,

* the mandating of life sentences for some three-time offenders

* authorizing more than $16 billion for state prison grants and the expansion of police forces

* African Americans constituting 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they’re no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs.

* A 50% increase in African American incarceration by the year 2000

At the time, Hillary was traveling the country lauding the new bill as a critical piece of legislation to combat the “crime epidemic” and make America safe for middle class whites.  In a blatant display of the sort of racism and white supremacy that could certainly endear her to klansmen like Quigg, Clinton referred to young black males targeted by the Crime Bill as “superpredators,” at once dehumanizing a segment of the population disproportionately impacted by Clinton’s crime policies while also justifying the obviously racist nature of the bill itself.

And while Hillary Clinton can whitewash her record (and that of her husband) when it comes to issues of race and injustice, the inescapable fact is that the “liberal” Clinton presided over the expansion of the for-profit prison industry, the construction of the mass incarceration state, the explosion of life sentences for drug offenders, the expansion of the death penalty, and countless other socially destructive phenomena that continue to ravage Black America to this day.

But beyond the viciously racist crime policies of the Clinton era, Hillary has also scapegoated Black America and other minorities, as well as the working class in general, for the economic crisis precipitated by Wall Street greed.  Who could forget Hillary all but absolving Wall Street of wrongdoing by blaming homeowners “getting in over their heads” when it came to the subprime mortgage market?

It is a well-known fact, documented by mountains of research, that lending practices by Wall Street banks – the same banks who paid Hillary Clinton massive speaking fees – were often racist in nature, and deliberately targeted Black and Latino Americans in a variety of ways. As the New York Times noted in a penetrating 2009 exposé about racist lending practices in New York and the devastating impacts on minority communities, the authors explained that, “Black buyers often enter a separate lending universe: A dozen banks and mortgage companies, almost all of which turned big profits making subprime loans, accounted for half the loans given to the region’s black middle-income borrowers in 2005 and 2006…The N.A.A.C.P. has filed a class-action suit against many of the nation’s largest banks, charging that such lending practices amount to reverse redlining.”

And who was the senator in New York at the time? Mrs. Clinton. And who was taking massive campaign donations and speaking fees from the very same institutions? Mrs. Clinton. One senses a pattern.

And of course who could forget the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which devastated the once vibrant and productive Mexican agriculture sector, forcing Mexican small farmers off their land and into the United States in search of work just to feed their families?  The scourge of “free trade,” proselytized by the Wall Street darling Hillary Clinton, is the central factor driving the migration to the United States, and all the attendant white supremacy and nativism spawned by it.

The narrative of this presidential campaign is being written in the media and on the streets, with Donald Trump being portrayed as a bigot for his overtly racist rhetoric on a number of key issues, particularly immigration.  Even Hillary Clinton has gotten in on the act by implying Trump is a racist on numerous occasions.  And while that may be true, Clinton is herself perhaps one of the most politically successful racists in American politics in the last half century.  Perhaps then it makes sense that Hillary Clinton was a “Goldwater Girl” – a backer of 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater who stood in firm opposition to Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Act.

Indeed, Hillary’s racism might be more coded than Trump’s. It might sound softer and be veiled in politically palatable language.  But it is perhaps even more vicious because, unlike Trump, Clinton might just be able to get away with it.

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Eric Draitser is an independent political analyst and host of CounterPunch Radio. You can find his exclusive content including articles, podcasts, audio commentaries, poetry and more at patreon.com/ericdraitser. He can be reached at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

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