In a statement reminiscent of her claim that she took money from Wall Street because of the 9/11 attacks, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a crowd, “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, would that end racism? Would that end sexism?”
The non sequitur is a not-so-subtle attempt to distract from Clinton’s extensive ties to Wall Street, which have become the focus of critics in recent months and likely played a role in her landslide defeat in the New Hampshire primary. The Clinton campaign clearly wants to change the subject.
But it might be more prudent to ask, “If we elected Hillary Clinton as president, would that end racism? Would that end sexism?”
It is not surprising that numerous black intellectuals are less-than-sanguine about Clinton becoming president, given her warnings about “super predators” from urban areas (read: scary young black men) to push tougher drug laws; her championing of expanding the prison system; and her vocal and resolute support for cutting welfare benefits, which led to millions of children living in poverty–particularly children of color.
Recently, Hillary Clinton’s most prominent surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, told a rally of her supporters that he still considered himself to be the first black president, and that the human genome showed “We are all mix-raced people,” seemingly downplaying how race and racism is experienced in American society. That attitude is not likely to end racism.
Hillary Clinton’s record on fighting sexism is also decidedly mixed. Not only did she support screwing over poor women and children with welfare reform, but her campaign continues to make a mockery of feminism and female solidarity.
As Maureen Dowd details in The New York Times, Clinton’s campaign has taken on a decidedly-entitled tone, where her personal ambitions are distorted as a cause for all women. Clinton supporters, like former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and 60s feminist icon Gloria Steinem, have belittled women who support Sanders as boy-crazy traitors.
Dowd also notes that it was the Clintons, along with Albright and Steinem, who undermined feminism in the 1990s by helping to smear intern Monica Lewinsky on behalf of the most powerful man in the world:
The same feminists who were outraged at the portrayal of [Anita] Hill by David Brock — then a Clinton foe but now bizarrely head of one of her “super PACs” — as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” hypocritically went along when Hillary and other defenders of Bill used that same aspersion against Lewinsky.
So much for the sisterhood.
Hillary Clinton may be trying to play identity politics to change the conversation, but given her record, it remains to be seen whether she can even win that debate.