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Hillary Clinton Isn't Only Against Reparations, She Accepted Money from Prison Lobbyists

01/22/2016 10:37 am ET | Updated Jan 22, 2016
  • H. A. Goodman Columnist published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Baltimore Sun, The Hill, Salon, The Jerusalem Post www.hagoodman.com
Sean Rayford via Getty Images

First and foremost, Ta-Nehisi Coates is a brilliant journalist and I agree with him on the case for reparations. Everyone should read his groundbreaking piece in The Atlantic titled The Case for Reparations. It highlights why the African American experience is unique in every way, from slavery and Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights era and today's lasting effects in the black community from such devastating chapters in U.S. history.

Like Coates, I too wish Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley would support reparations (especially since African Americans vote over 90 percent Democrat), however this isn't the case. For the record, I support reparations.

However, when Coates asks why Bernie Sanders fails to address white supremacy, and completely ignores Hillary Clinton's "abysmal" record on racial justice, as well as numerous other ties held by both Clintons to the structural injustices currently faced by African Americans, Latinos, and other communities, then some context is needed.

There's only one leading Democratic candidate in 2016 who embodies white supremacy, privilege and financial ties to the economic and political system defining these concepts. The other leading Democratic candidate is named Bernie Sanders, and his political philosophy has been likened to Martin Luther King's by Dr. Cornell West, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, and rap artist Killer Mike.

Therefore, let's look at why Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, should be singled out as furthering white supremacy and privilege.

Hillary Clinton ran a controversial 3 a.m. ad against Barack Obama in 2008 that Harvard's Orlando Patterson believes contained a "racist sub-message." Upon viewing the images within Clinton's political advertisement, Patterson wrote that "I couldn't help but think of D. W. Griffith's 'Birth of a Nation.'"

Here's the video of Clinton's 3 a.m. ad against our nation's first African American president.

Is there a reason the Clinton campaign showed sleeping children in the middle of the night, when running against an African American candidate?

Harvard's Orlando Patterson and others believed there were numerous reasons, and stated, "The danger implicit in the phone ad -- as I see it -- is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat."

Then, when Obama's campaign accused Clinton's staff of "dirty tricks" in 2008 (for circulating a photo of Barack Obama in African attire), his campaign manager David Plouffe stated that such tactics represented "the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in this election."

Then of course, Obama referred to Hillary as "Annie Oakley," primarily because she portrayed herself as a "Pro-Gun Churchgoer" eight years ago.

In a complete reversal from today's loyal Obama supporter, and gun control advocate, Clinton once stated that Obama was "kind of elitist and out of touch." On his stance pertaining to why Americans cling to guns, Clinton said "I disagree with Senator Obama's assertion that people in our country cling to guns and have certain attitudes about immigration or trade simply out of frustration."

So, Hillary Clinton ran a political ad deemed to have a "racist sub-message" by a Harvard sociologist, engaged in "dirty tricks" deemed to be "offensive fear-mongering" by Obama's campaign manager (not to mention her defense of gun owners back then), and recently accepted money from prison lobbyists, but it's Bernie Sanders who's soft on white supremacy?

Hillary Clinton had financial ties to prison lobbyists up until recently and Bill Clinton's record on mass incarceration speaks for itself. Clinton's ties to mass incarceration are highlighted in a Vice article titled Hillary Clinton Shuns Private Prison Cash, Activists Want Others to Follow Suit:

It only took Hillary Clinton six months after first calling for sweeping criminal justice reform and an end to mass incarceration for her to announce on Thursday that she would no longer accept direct donations from private prison lobbyists...

Clinton's decision reportedly came after a series of meetings with several minority advocacy groups that have been demanding that 2016 candidates address the excesses of America's sprawling criminal justice system, including mass incarceration, overcrowded jails, and poor prison conditions, among other issues.

Clinton's Ready for Hillary PAC has received $133,246 from lobbying firms linked to GEO and CCA. That figure was slightly lower than the $133,450 Rubio's PACs and campaign have accepted from private prison companies or groups that lobby on their behalf.

Someone needs to define white supremacy, if indeed accepting money from prison lobbyists isn't an egregious example of privilege and supremacy. On the bright side, at least Clinton accepted less money from prison lobbyists than Marco Rubio.

If you pontificate about privilege and supremacy, make sure to follow the money first, and see if prison lobbyists and Wall Street have funded your candidate.

The fact is that Bernie Sanders never accepted money from prison lobbyists.

As for the history of mass incarceration, Bill Clinton's role in this plague is highlighted in a 2001 Los Angeles Times piece titled Federal and State Prison Populations Soared Under Clinton, Report Finds:

The federal and state prison populations rose more under former President Bill Clinton than under any other president, according to a report from a criminal justice institute to be released today.

In fact, the analysis of U.S. Justice Department statistics by the left-leaning Justice Policy Institute, a project of a San Francisco-based justice center, found that more federal inmates were added to prisons under Clinton than under presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan combined.

From opposing a federal commission's push for equalization of drug sentences for powder cocaine and crack cocaine to embracing a 1994 crime bill that accelerated the rate of prison construction, the Democratic president often stole the show from "tough-on-crime" Republicans, the study said.

Yes, Clinton's presidency saw more Americans incarcerated than "under presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan combined."

While Hillary Clinton says she'll curtail private prisons, even as she accepted prison lobbyist money (if this makes sense to you, then you're voting for Clinton), only Bernie Sanders has a concrete plan to actually end private prisons. This plan is highlighted in a Think Progress piece titled Bernie Sanders Unveils Ambitious Plan To End Private Prisons:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is officially taking on the country's private prison industry. By introducing a bill that would ban government contracts with private prisons, the presidential contender is quickly becoming the loudest advocate for criminal justice reform among his competitors.

"Study after study after study has shown private prisons are not cheaper, they are not safer, and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state," Sanders said at a press conference Thursday.

Where is Hillary Clinton's detailed plan to end private prisons?

Finally, South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn confronted both Clintons in 2008 over their rhetoric against Obama. Hillary Clinton's loss to Obama in South Carolina caused another controversy, as illustrated in a 2008 New York Times piece titled Black Leader in the House Sharply Criticizes Bill Clinton:

The black leader, Representative James E. Clyburn, an undeclared superdelegate from South Carolina and the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said "black people are incensed over all of this."

...Mr. Clyburn added that there appeared to be an almost unanimous view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were committed to doing everything they possibly could to damage Mr. Obama to a point that he could never win in the general election.

Was it white supremacy when "Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were committed to doing everything they possibly could to damage Mr. Obama"? Or just politics among Democrats? Or both?

Bill and Hillary Clinton are the embodiment of the status quo, and while they'll say the right things to whomever their audience happens to be, they'll also accept money from prison lobbyists and run racist political ads.

With Bernie Sanders, you have a candidate tackling not only private prisons and mass incarceration, but a person who says "I'll be damned" to quagmires and perpetual wars. Militarized police departments are a direct consequence of perpetual American wars, so that's another reason Hillary Clinton's "neocon" foreign policy hurts everyone.

Clinton and Sanders don't support reparations. Only Clinton, however, has a history with prison lobbyists and other elements of structural injustice.

I explain why Bernie Sanders will win a landslide victory on The Benjamin Dixon Show, the reasons he'll become president on The Thom Hartmann Show, and why I'm only voting for Bernie Sanders in this YouTube segment.

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