Saturday, April 09, 2016

Michelle Alexander Just Responded to Bill Clinton
Amanda Girard
April 8, 2016

Prominent law professor, author, and civil rights activist Michelle Alexander isn’t buying Bill Clinton’s “almost” apology for his reaction to protesters yesterday.

On Thursday, the former President of the United States was heckled by Black Lives Matter activists during a campaign rally in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The protesters were demonstrating against Clinton’s 1994 crime bill and his 1996 welfare cuts, which protesters said decimated the black community. Clinton responded by doubling down on his wife’s “superpredator” comments, telling the protesters they were defending murderers and drug dealers.

The next day, Clinton said he would “almost want to” apologize for his comments, stopping short of actually apologizing.

Ohio State University law professor Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, took the former president to task in a scathing Facebook post on Friday, starting off by thanking Clinton for revealing his true colors.

“Thank you, Bill, for giving the nation a ten-minute tutorial on everything that was wrong (and apparently remains wrong) with the ‘New Democrats’ and their approach to racial politics,” Alexander wrote.

She then went on to talk about how Clinton’s strategy to win the White House was based on a racist appeal to white independent voters by convincing them that he could take even more of a hardline approach to crime than his Republican predecessors — something Clinton and his surrogates in the media argue was supported by the black community.

It is a gross distortion to suggest that black people wanted billions of dollars slashed from child welfare, housing and other public benefits in order to fund an unprecedented prison building boom. It was Bill Clinton’s deliberate political strategy — one he championed along with the “New Democrats” — to appeal to white swing voters by being tougher on struggling black communities than the Republicans had been, ramping up the drug war and gutting welfare.

She continued to excoriate Bill Clinton for driving a wedge between the protesters and Clinton supporter U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) by saying, “You can listen to [the protesters], or you can listen to Congressman John Lewis, the last remaining hero of the civil rights movement.”

Alexander pointed out that Rep. Lewis himself was a fierce opponent of Clinton’s endeavor to “reform welfare as we know it.”

That strategy of “getting tough” while at the same time eviscerating the federal social safety net was NOT supported by many of the black politicians he seeks to use as cover. Rep. John Lewis (who Clinton referred to yesterday as the “last remaining hero of the civil rights movement”) fiercely opposed welfare reform, accurately predicting that it would thrust more than a million more kids into severe poverty.

John Lewis said back then: “How can any person of faith, of conscience, vote for a bill that puts a million more kids into poverty? What does it profit a great nation to conquer the world, only to lose its soul?”

Alexander and Lewis are right. As the Huffington Post recently reported, up to 1 million people will soon lose their access to food stamps as a result of Clinton’s 1996 welfare cuts. The law includes provisions that cut food stamps after a certain period of time for unemployed welfare recipients with no dependents.

At the bill’s signing ceremony, Clinton himself even admitted the bill “fails to provide Food Stamp support to childless adults who want to work, but cannot find a job or are not given the opportunity to participate in a work program.”

“These totally unnecessary cuts would increase demand on the nation’s charitable food system at a time when food banks and other hunger-relief groups are stretched to meet sustained high need,” Feeding America CEO Diana Aviv said in a public statement.

At the end of her post, Michelle Alexander congratulated the protesters for “fighting for the soul of the Democratic party and American democracy itself.”

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