The 11 most anti-capitalist quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

Image: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (Flickr Creative Commons)

Originally posted January 16, 2017 on RawStory

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To be fair, I guess I should wish “Sorry it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” to the people who don’t believe it should be a holiday and the politicians who voted against making it one. I’m talking to you, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ),  Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

While both parties attempt to claim Dr. King, the Republicans have a much harder time doing so without distorting history and the truth. But the truth is, most politicians would distance themselves from Dr. King’s stunning (and spot on) indictments of capitalism.  There are, of course, a few exceptions, here and there.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, let’s look at some of the things he said challenged capitalism and are left out of most history books.

  1. “I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic… [Capitalism] started out with a noble and high motive… but like most human systems it fell victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has out-lived its usefulness.” – Letter to Coretta Scott, July 18, 1952.
  2. “In a sense, you could say we’re involved in the class struggle.” –Quote to New York Times reporter, José Igelsias, 1968.
  3. “And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society…” –Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.
  4. “Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis.” –Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.
  5. “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.” – Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.
  6. “We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.”- Report to SCLC Staff, May 1967.
  7. “The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.” –Speech to SCLC  Board, March 30, 1967.
  8. “I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective – the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed matter: the guaranteed income… The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.” – Where do We Go from Here?, 1967.
  9. “You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism.” – Speech to his staff, 1966.
  10. “[W]e are saying that something is wrong … with capitalism…. There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” – Speech to his staff, 1966.
  11. “If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell.” Speech at Bishop Charles Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ in support of the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike on March 18th, 1968, two weeks before he was assassinated.

Trump to gays: My prejudiced bigotry will protect you — you’re welcome

Donald Trump has been branded a bigot. Yet his acceptance speech suggests a radical rejection of heteronormativity and an embrace of radical queer identity politics.

By opposing both Islam and heterosexism, and using the phrase LGBTQ, Trump may have positioned himself as a woke nominee. For the sake of the unwoke reader who doesn’t know what woke means, MTV News defines it as “Being aware — specifically in reference to current events and cultural issues.” Urban dictionary says, “Being Woke means being aware. Knowing whats going on in the community. (Relating to Racism and Social Injustice).” If we include– as we must– homophobia in our definition of Social Injustice, we must also frame Trump’s seeming Islamophobia in its rightful woke context.

Trump clearly grounded his Islamophobia in a fierce, even fabulous, commitment to LGBTQ rights as he addressed the RNC Thursday night at  Cleveland’s Quicken Loans arena:

Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBTQ community. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.

A cursory textual analysis reveals the problematic nature of Trump’s argument. There is no proof that the man who murdered 49 people at the Pulse night club in Orlando was influenced by Islam. And Trump conflates Islam with an inherently violent and hateful ideology. Perhaps most troubling is Trump’s  exoneration of the homophobia, violence and hate perpetuated by his own religion, Christianity, and by his very own running-mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who self- identifies as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” And yet, despite his intersectional self-definition, Pence’s record, which includes pushing through the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” allowing businesses to turn away and corporation to deny health insurance to LGBTQ people, suggests he has not freed himself of the shackles of homophobia.

But Donald Trump, at the very least, is laying bare what we talk about when we talk about intersectional identity politics. And he should be commended for initiating this much needed conversation.

In order to further support his subversive rejection of heteronormativity , we must push Trump even further, empowering him to use his unique voice to give voice to the voiceless. Of course, we must do this in a way that honors his authenticity, uniqueness, and agency. What better way to do this than by turning to Trump’s own words and recasting them in the radical voice he has already discovered. Here is just one example of how he could apply his woke and intersectional framing to things he has already said:

“I will build a great wall safe space– and nobody builds safe spaces better than me, believe me –and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great  safe space, and I will make straight, cis, able-bodies, men Mexico pay for that safe space. Mark my words.”

It is incumbent upon us to thoroughly reflect on, process and unpack the potential wokeness of Trump. And yet, we would also be remiss if we failed to interrogate this question. I will be offering more thoughts and sharing some concrete suggestion in a follow-up post.

In the mean time, I urge readers to share their own ideas on Twitter. Please tag me, @kthalps, and use the hashtag #WokeTrump.

Here are 9 things we hope Donald Trump plagiarizes in his RNC speech

Originally posted July 21, 2016 on RawStory

Given Melania Trump’s surprising choice to plagiarize Michelle Obama, we have high hopes that The Donald will lift some language of his own when he accepts the nomination from the Republican party tonight. Below are some works Trump would do well to incorporate into his historic speech.

1. “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” – Hannibal Lecter, Silence of he Lambs.

2. Here Comes the Hotstepper, iNi Kamoze.

Here comes the hot stepper, murderer
I’m the lyrical gangster, murderer
Pick up the crew in-a de area, murderer
Still love you like that, murderer…

No no we don’t die, yes we multiply..

Extraordinary, juice like a strawberry
Money to burn baby, all of the time…
Come juggle with me,
I say every time

Start like a jackrabbit,
finish in front of it
On the night is jack, that’s it, understand?
I’m the daddy of the mack daddy
His are left in gold, maybe
Ain’t no homie gonna play me, top celebrity man

3. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Shylock, Merchant of Venice. Continue reading “Here are 9 things we hope Donald Trump plagiarizes in his RNC speech”

Feeling down after Bernie endorsed Hillary? This short farewell speech should cheer you up

Originally published July 12, 2016 on RawStory

As everyone by now knows, Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton today. If you’re feeling a little down about Bernie Sanders stepping down from the race, this farewell speech may make you laugh instead of cry. I’ve written about the comedic duo behind the Trump Vs. Bernie show. Here is James Adomian’s Bernie Sanders explaining what he and Hillary share and encouraging the movement to keep on keeping on.

Here is the anti-slavery paragraph that got cut from the Declaration of Independence

image via wikipedia
Originally published July 4, 2016 on RawStory

The original draft of the Declaration of Independence indicted the institution of slavery. Spoiler alert: it didn’t make it into the final version.

On June 11, 1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee of five men—Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston—to write a document declaring the independence of the colonies. The gang of five tasked Jefferson with taking the first crack, which he did, writing a draft, which included a litany of grievances against the King, the last of which read:

he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. [determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce [determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold]: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

The paragraph starts out great, condemning, as it does, the evils of slavery. It turns into a cop-out towards the end. Jefferson, absolves his fellow slave owners by blaming the King for bringing slavery and selling enslaved people to the colonies. Even worse, he criticizes him for offering freedom to the slaves who managed to escape, in exchange for their fighting with the British. Both the sides of the War used the promise of freedom to entice slaves to fight for the opposing side.

But even this self-exonerating and hypocritical critique of slavery was too much.

The Committee of Five didn’t mind it paragraph. John Adams was particularly enthusiastic and would write in a letter decades later, “I was delighted with its high tone and the flights of oratory with which it abounded, especially that concerning Negro slavery.”

When the document was presented to the Congress on June 28, certain delegates were less than supportive. As Adams explained, Jefferson’s “Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress… They obliterated some of the best of it… I have long wondered that the original draft had not been published.” In the next sentence Adams declared that the “the reason is the vehement philippic against Negro slavery.” (Well, there you go, John). To be fair delegates from Northern States, whose merchant economies benefited from the slave trade, also objected. By the time the document was signed, on July 4, the criticism of slavery had been dropped.

While we don’t know what exactly the delegates said to make their case, I imagine it was something along the lines of….

Tom. John Adams* is right: you’re a really good writer. Not sure you’re ten times better than he is. That seems unnecessarily self-critical on John’s part. But, great rhetorical flourishes. And don’t pay attention to John’s criticism about tone**. It’s perfect. Not too critical, not too passionate.  That’s his issue. Not yours.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here and we know some of this is just spit-balling so, the following tweaks shouldn’t be too much of a hold up. It’s no big deal, but we’d love you to cut a part of the document. Of course, it’s totally up to you. But if you want us to pass this thing, the whole slavery-is-against-nature graph is going to have to go. It’s a nice sentiment. It may be true. But the slave trade is kind of our thing. Besides, the “all men are created equal” is a nice enough gesture. And getting rid of the paragraph will make you feel less awkward about your whole slave-owning situation.

We don’t have to resolve this issue now. We can table it. For a century or so.

Good work! Keep it up and you’ll really go places!


*In the same letter Adams recalled telling Jefferson, “you can write ten times better than I can.”

** Adams also confided that there were “expressions which I would not have inserted if I had drawn it up, particularly that which called the King tyrant. I thought this too personal, for I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature; I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his official capacity, only, cruel. I thought the expression too passionate, and too much like scolding, for so grave and solemn a document…”

Laugh instead of cry about the anti-Sanders media bias

image via youtube
Originally published May 30, 2016 on RawStory

If you’re not living under a rock, you may have noticed just a slight media bias against Bernie Sanders. Although, in all seriousness, you may not have noticed it, since the biased media doesn’t tend to report on its own bias.

You don’t actually have to be a Sanders supporter to acknowledge the media bias. I would argue, in all seriousness, that Clinton supporters who admit that there is negative coverage of Sanders make much better spokespeople for their candidate because they have credibility, or at the very least, the air of credibility.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be fun and funny. Back to how you can laugh instead of cry, or, say, fall asleep.

Through their live tour and  Web/TV Series, comedic geniuses James Adomian and Anthony Atamanuik have been holding Trump vs Bernie debates since the fall, long before The Donald agreed to, and then chickened out on, debating The Bernie. Last week, I posted one of their videos to give people a sense of what the debate could look like. The video below offers not only Trump on Sanders hilarity, but takes on the media bias found at MSNBC.  Adomian’s Chris Matthews impersonation is as impeccable as his Bernie Sanders one and Atamanuik is dead-on as Trump and as Rachel Maddow.

Here’s the perfect video for when you already miss Obama but had your doubts when he was president

Originally posted January 20, 2017 on RawStory

As someone who voted for Barack Obama twice, self-identifies as a feminist and as a Bernie Bro (a label I’ve reclaimed), I’m having some mixed emotions about our, gulp, last president.

Barack Obama was complex, complicated, and provoked extreme and disproportionate responses. The Right despised him so much, they started reactionary The Tea Party movement. The Republicans hated him so much that they stated, out loud, that their most urgent priority was obstructing him. Their open embrace of stymying any legislation is just disturbing, and more surprising, than their actually doing it. At the same time, many on the Left, myself included, gave him a pass on things we would have criticized in a different president.

I know that I personally responded to the racist vitriol hurled at and overlooked or ignored some of his most objectionable positions and policies. Part of this was an overprotective defensiveness. Part of this was being distracted by the attacks on him. Part of this (for me, at least) was being disarmed by his nerdy swagger and an uncanny ability to effortlessly and cooly deliver comebacks which slayed.

What we should have done was chew gum and walk at the same time, as Gerald Ford couldn’t do, and “go ahead and make [him] do it,” as FDR (may have) said. We needed to both defend him from unprecedented and unwarranted demonization while also holding his feet to the fire. The Left could have pushed him more than we did. As president, he would never have been the progressive we would have wanted. But he could have been nudged into being more progressive than he was.

A more anecdotal example of Obama’s ability to elicit strong and contradictory responses can be find in Reverend Jesse Jackson. Who, besides Obama could inspire a moved Jackson to cry at his inauguration and an unaware-his-mic-was-hot Jesse Jackson to whisper that he wanted to “cut [Obama’s] nuts out” for “talking down to Black people.”

While my response was nowhere near as epic as Jackson’s I too was moved by Obama… to do rewrite and cover Rihanna’s hit song Stay and reenact the legendary its bath-tub-based music video.

You can even sing along thanks to the subtitles I provided and copied and pasted below. And yes, I wrote the lyrics and recorded the song and filmed myself in the bath, in case you’re curious about “the process.” If you haven’t seen the original music video, please do, in order to better enjoy mine.

Never had Obama fever
a skeptical hopeful believer.
I threw my hands on the lever pulled it two times for Obama 
I knew he wasn’t perfect  but that I thought that he’d be bolder.You droned and deported and bailed out the banks through Tim Geitner 
but at least you gave us DACA and finally protected some Artic Water….CHORUS #1
You are a neolib and kind of hawkish
but Something in the way you move 
makes me feel like I can’t live without you 
and Trump is really scary.
And I want you to stay
It’s not universal healthcare you’ve given.
But it helped young people & those who live with preconditions. 

On and on Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan go.
Tell me know, tell me know, tell me know when will Guantánamo close?CHORUS #2
You slowjammed TPP and you are corporate
but something in the way you move 
makes me feel like I can’t live without you
and Trump is really scary
I want you to stay
Your hair looks so good gray.
So I really think you should stay.

If Trump knew what Alex Jones said about him, he wouldn’t give him press credentials

image via youtube
Originally posted January 26, 2017 on RawStory

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was into spreading alternative facts way before it was cool, claimed that he was granted White House press credentials in a video he released on Wednesday. But the White House is denying the claim, probably because they’re a bunch of breastmilk-denied, fluoride-poisoned, retarded, low-grade moron, globalists.

While it’s impossible to know whom to believe in this alternative facts tête-à-tête, one thing is clear: if the extremely thin-skinned The Donald knew what The Alex Jones had said about him, he wouldn’t let him near the White House…

When a few Raw Story writers went to cover the Republican National Convention, I was blessed enough to run into Jones on the street. Since I hadn’t expected to meet him and had to maneuver ducking under his entourage, I stalled with some small talk and asked him if he was enjoying himself. He quite deftly pivoted from the personal to the political, saying “I like standing up against tyranny, yeah.” In other words, he was, indeed, enjoying himself.

But that’s not the damning part. During the exchange, Jones told me he was supporting Trump. When I asked him if he had any reservations about the nominee, a candid Jones confided, “I don’t like some of the torture stuff.” He qualified that by saying, “but at least he’s honest about it. With Hillary, she wants to mount America’s head on the wall.” When I asked Jones what that meant “policy-wise,” he responded, “It means she just wants to piss all over the country like a big fat goblin.” Though Jones’ support was unwavering, it’s unlikely The Donald would tolerate any criticism of his pro-torture stance.

Of course many in the media have criticized Trump’s position on torture, which he reaffirmed Wednesday during his first TV interview as President of the United States, telling ABC, “absolutely I feel it works.” But Jones is supposed to be better than the “leftist mainstream media,” which “promote tyranny.”

Below is the transcript of our exchange as well as two versions of our encounter. Much like the truth, run-ins with Jones have two sides. Continue reading “If Trump knew what Alex Jones said about him, he wouldn’t give him press credentials”

Missouri Republican cuts mic as NAACP leader explains how new bill guts workplace protections

State Rep. Bill Lant (Twitter)
Originally posted February 14, 2017 on RawStory

Perhaps aiming to show instead of tell, a Missouri House Republican leader literally silenced the president of the Missouri NAACP — as he attempted to testify against a bill that would gut protections against workplace discrimination at a public hearing on Monday night.

Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel was speaking against a set of bills that he described as “an expansion of discrimination.” Chapel wasn’t hyperbolizing. Currently, under the Missouri Human Rights Act, a plaintiff must prove that their race, religion, sex, or age was a “contributing factor” to their termination.

Under Springfield Republican Rep. Kevin Austin’s bill, the burden of proof would be raised so that the plaintiff’s race, religion, sex, or age is a “motivating factor.” In other words, if you’re fired just because you’re Black that’s good old fashioned discrimination. If you’re fired because you’re Black and get to work late, while your white co-worker isn’t fired for arriving late, that’s not discriminatory wrongful termination. The bill also caps the amount of money people could receive if they were able to prove they had been discriminated against. So, it’s pretty fair to call it an expansion of discrimination.

In a video of the exchange, which you can find below, Chapel testified that he was “dismayed” that universities, schools, and businesses had testified on behalf of the bill and were therefore “all united in favor of expanding discrimination.”

Committee chair Rep. Bill Lant, R-Pineville, saw all of this discrimination talk as irrelevant to bills pertaining to discrimination. So, he instructed Chapel to “contain [his] speech to speaking on the bill.”  Chapel responded, “Oh, but I am, because this is nothing but Jim Crow. Because this is nothing but Jim Crow. You cannot legalize discrimination on an individual basis and call it anything else.” So, Lant did what any white lawmaker would do when an African American leader of the nation’s largest civil rights organization indicts racism: by cutting off his mic.

Lant “allowed” Chapel to speak for a few more seconds before he interrupted Chapel, and said, “thank you for your testimony, sir.” Chapel replied, “I’m not done,” and Assistant House Minority Leader Rep. Gina Mitten, a St. Louis Democrat, pointed out that witnesses had five minutes to speak, which Chapel hadn’t been given. Lant once again said Chapel wasn’t “speaking on the subject.” Chapel said, “I am speaking on the subject.” Mitten tried once again to step in for democracy, imploring “I would ask you to please allow,” Chapel to finish speaking. ” Lant replied by saying if there was “no other witness that would like to speak I will cancel this hearing.”  A silenced Chapel got out of his seat. Mitten then asked if she could ask Chapel questions. Not surprisingly, Lant said, “no ma’am, you may not.”

In a statement released after the hearing, Mitten wrote, “Jim Crow is alive and well in Missouri and Rep. Lant just proved it.”

Chapel also released a statement that, “the Chair’s refusal to let me speak ensured that not only my voice, but all voices of those protected by anti-discrimination laws in the state were silenced.” Continue reading “Missouri Republican cuts mic as NAACP leader explains how new bill guts workplace protections”

Bernie Sanders Nailed It On Identity Politics and Inequality, and the Media Completely Missed the Point

Originally published at Paste

Bernie Sanders Nailed It On Identity Politics and Inequality, and the Media Completely Missed the Point

For over a year, critics within and around the established wing of the Democratic Party have painted Bernie Sanders as a misogynistic, racist, heteronormative, cis, male, pseudo-anti-establishment, actually-totally establishment politician motivated by a humongous ego and a desire to thwart progress and the election of the first female president in US history. And then there were the less moderate critics.

I kid, but only slightly.

And as we saw in a recent episode of anti-Sanders outrage, this narrative is still extant. On Sunday November 20, during a talk at Berklee College in Boston, Sanders said something nuanced about race, ethnicity, gender and class, and the same media that supported Clinton during the campaign distorted his remarks to fit this narrative.

Though the election is over, the battle over the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, which was personified and defined by Clinton v. Sanders, is in full swing. While Clinton and her supporters represent a centrist neoliberal wing of the party, Sanders and his supporters represent the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” as the late Senator Paul Wellstone put it. In fact, the fight for the DNC chair is part of this same struggle. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), who had endorsed Sanders and whom Sanders appointed to the Democratic Platform committee, is seeking to be DNC chair. The ADL’s vicious and embarrassing smear campaign against him as being an anti-semite—which he’s not—demonstrates how much is at stake.

So, it makes sense that the official Clinton campaign, as well as the David Brock run smear PR empire, continues to push the narrative which they worked so hard to develop and embed during the campaign to delegitimize Sanders and his critiques.

According to this narrative, Clinton and her supporters understand the unique but overlapping challenges faced by women, LGBT, people of color and immigrants. This tendency, to see the intersections of issues of class and race and gender and etc. is called “intersectionality,” a term and concept developed by Kimberle Crenshaw. Sanders, they argue, is a single issue candidate, a vulgar class reductionist, only interested in fighting for the interests of the white working class.

The problem is, for many of the so called intersectionalists who support Clinton and reject Sanders, intersectionality and identity politics include everything except for class. They are so tone deaf about class that they hear the “working class” as a white monolith, as if working class people of color or LGBT people or immigrants don’t exist. Yes, Sanders has spoken about the unique challenges of reaching the white working class, something that would make sense to any intersectionalist who thinks that white supremacy is a real thing. But his use of the word white in this specific context is just more proof that his use of working class without “white,” includes people of all backgrounds. Sanders; critique of inequality, and his attack on the one percent, is one that champions the rights of people from all backgrounds. At the same time, Sanders acknowledges the singular struggles and double (or triple, or quadruple) burdens faced by different people, and how the economic inequality is compounded by racism and sexism. For example, the NAACP gives him a rating of 97% on his positions on affirmative action. They give Clinton a rating of 96%.

What Sanders Actually Said

Let’s look at what Sanders said that got him in so much trouble. After his Nov. 20 talk, the moderator opened the Q&A by reading one of the audience questions. Rebecca, who considers Sanders and Elizabeth Warren her heros, had written, “I want to be the second Latina senator in U.S. history. Any tips?”

Sanders responded:

“It goes without saying that as we fight to end all forms of discrimination, as we fight to bring more and more women into the political process, Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans — all of that is enormously important, and count me in as somebody who wants to see that happen.”

What Sanders was clearly saying, and actually did say, is that discrimination is real and a problem, that diversity and representation of underrepresented people is “enormously important,” and something he “wants to see…happen.”

He went even further than that, though, saying:

“Right now, we’ve made some progress in getting women into politics — I think we got 20 women in the Senate now. We need 50 women in the Senate. We need more African Americans.”

Not only is diversity critical but there is still more work to be done. There has been some improvement but not enough.

But then he uses the “but” word:

“But it’s not good enough to say, “Hey, I’m a Latina, vote for me.” That is not good enough. I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country, and is going to take on big money interests.”

Okay, so what does his “but” do? Here, it does not contradict but complicates. It builds on his other statements about diversity in government. Diversity is absolutely necessary but it’s not sufficient. We have to know where those candidates stand in terms representing the people’s interests, not merely their demography (which again, IS important, but not enough!)

He expands:

“One of the struggles that we’re going to have right now, we lay on the table of the Democratic Party, is it’s not good enough to me to say, “Okay, well we’ve got X number of African Americans over here, we’ve got Y number of Latinos, we have Z number of women. We are a diverse party, a diverse nation….”

And then come more “buts” as he delves deeper into the conflicts of between policies for the people and policies for the financial elites.

“But, but here is my point, and this is where there is going to be division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for someone to say, “I’m a woman! Vote for me!” No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.”

And here’s where Sanders brings up identity politics. Ready? Brace yourselves!

“In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

Identity politics is a term used for the addressing of the issues and injustices of particular groups in the political process. This is the only time Sanders ever mentions identity politics. “Go beyond identity politics. ” For the mainstream media, that was the gotcha moment, and the focus of attention. Yes, “go beyond” can mean different things. It can mean to go “farther” or “go further” as when directions tell us to “go beyond” a certain intersection, or a counselor advises us to “go beyond” our comfort zone. At worst, “to go beyond” can have a dismissive and discounting connotation—though “get beyond” or “get over” would be a better choice if the idea was to dismiss.

At any rate, the fact that Sanders emphasized how important identity politics are shows he was clearly not eschewing them. In addition to what was already quoted, Sanders followed his sentence on identity politics by saying, “I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American head or CEO of some major corporation.” And in case you missed the message, he finished his speech with, “We need candidates — black and white and Latino and gay and male — we need all of those candidates and public officials to have the guts to stand up to the oligarchy.”

He couldn’t have been clearer in presenting economic policies and representational diversity as being complementary, and not mutually exclusive.

How the Media Responded

It looks like the first major publication to pick up the story was Talking Points Memo, (TPM)which had written the following headline by Monday Morning: “Sanders Urges Supporters: Ditch Identity Politics And Embrace The Working Class.”

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The headline and opening sentence, which use the words “ditch” and “move away from” clearly distort what Sanders was saying. They also miss that he was talking to people running for office and the Democrats, not his supporters, though what did I expect after the headline? The headline also reads like a translation from 1930s Pravda. You can almost hear the Internationale crescendo in the background as a caricature of an old and archaic Sanders spouts dated disproven ideas about the working class, forsaking the progress of women and people of color.

Either emboldened by TPM’s lax (mis)reporting or too lazy to review the comments on their own, several other outlets incorporated “ditch” or its synonyms into their articles’ headlines or paragraphs.

At Vox, not surprisingly, Matt Yglesias, chided that Democrats neither can nor should ditch “identity politics”:

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Not everyone put the headline in its headline. Some put it into the body of their articles.

Rebecca Traister linked and quoted the TPM headline in a piece she wrote for The Cut, lamenting that Sanders was “recommending that Democrats embrace the working class and “Ditch Identity Politics,” according to one headline.” In the very next sentence, She clarified that:

In fact, the headline was overblown: Sanders did not say we should dump identity politics, and affirmatively noted that “we should bring more and more women into the political process” and that “we need 50 women in the Senate!”

Bustle did a cute move in copy and pasting the TPM headline into its opening paragraph.

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On Wednesday night, the TPM talking point, if you will, made it’s TV debut. Speaking on All in with Chris Hayes, Clinton supporter and Slate writer Michelle Goldberg complained that Sanders was saying the Democrats need to ditch identity politics.” To be fair, though Goldberg did repeat “ditch,” she did get the target of Sanders’ message right, noting it was for the Democratic Party and not his supporters. That’s neither here no there, except, perhaps, to show that Goldberg had taken enough time to go over what Sanders had said and deliberately chose to not update or correct the verb.

Host Chris Hayes, who was with Goldberg in the studio, interjected (though barely audibly), that Sanders, “didn’t quite say that.” Nina Turner, former Ohio State Senator and Sanders surrogate, who was speaking from a remote studio, also clarified, that Sanders, “didn`t say it that way. He didn`t mean it that way.” But Goldberg ignored the correction, continuing as if nothing had been said: “I think that there is a fear among some people that in this move, that kind of a purely class-based politics will throw women and people of color under the bus in this attempt to win back the culturally conservative white working class.” Goldberg, a white female Clinton supporter, speaking past Turner, a Black woman, to explain how the Vermont Senator who Turner had chosen to support was espousing an ideology that would throw women of color under the bus, was “problematic,” to use a word so frequently invoked by Sanders critics.

Politico swapped it out for “slam.”

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On the Right, The Blaze went with “quit.”

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The Observer chose “grow out of.”

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Others definitely went to great lengths to distort what Sanders said, and it’s hard to believe they were innocent.

As for opinion pieces and tweets, this one stands out as being utterly unrelated to reality.

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What makes the attacks on Sanders so disingenuous is that they are so clearly partisan and unprincipled. Contrast Sanders statements on class and race with Clinton’s.

What Clinton Said

Back in February, Clinton delivered a speech in the suburbs of Las Vegas where she explicitly pitted economic policies against “progress” for women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBT. In an obvious dig at Sanders, who the Clinton campaign was deriding as a “single issue candidate,” Clinton asked, rhetorically, “Not everything is about an economic theory, right? If we broke up the big banks tomorrow — and I will, if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will — would that end racism?” When the audience responded “No!” Clinton took the call and response and really ran with it, asking “Would that end sexism? Would that end discrimination against the LGBT community? Would that make people feel more welcoming to immigrants overnight? Would that solve our problem with voting rights, and Republicans who are trying to strip them away from people of color, the elderly, and the young?”

The audience responded to each of these questions with… “No!”

Clinton gets a lot out of this call-and-response jam session. She makes the strawman argument that Sanders thinks or has ever suggested that breaking up the banks will end racism, sexism, homophobia, voter disenfranchisement and xenophobia etc. She is certain that taking on the banks is insufficient. But she goes further by saying that it may not even be necessary. She vows that she will do something about the banks, “if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk.” Clinton is agnostic on whether the banks deserve any kind of regulation or are a risk. And Clinton paints breaking up banks and fighting against structural racism as two discrete and unrelated projects.

The truth is that the foreclosure crisis was one of the most stunning and disturbing examples of institutionalized racism. As Nathalie Baptiste writes in the American Prospect:

“Across the nation, black homeowners were disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis, with more than 240,000 blacks losing homes they had owned. Black homeowners in the D.C. region were 20 percent more likely to lose their homes compared to whites with similar incomes and lifestyles. The foreclosure crisis also affected blacks of all income brackets; high-earning blacks were 80 percent more likely to lose their homes than their white counterparts, making the homeowners of Prince George’s County prime targets.”

Clinton wraps up her speech by calling herself “the only candidate who’ll take on every barrier to progress.” Of course, her ignoring the systemic risks already posed by the banks and de facto racist policies already practiced by the banks, makes it hard to believe that she is at all equipped to do this.

People who care about identity politics should have been in an uproar. They may not particularly care that she oversimplified and distorted Sanders’ analysis. But how could Clinton have ignored the racist nature of the subprime loan scandal? Also, how could she present economic justice and other forms of justice as so unrelated?

And yet there was no outcry.

Clinton’s statements were nowhere near as nuanced as Sanders. Sanders doesn’t make one more important than the other. Clinton does. Had Clinton spoken about class and identity politics with the same intersectionality and nuance as Sanders, her statements would have been very different. She would have taken the very sensible position that while bank reform is a good and necessary thing, it alone will not end racism or sexism. She would have emphasized the need for attacking the overlapping issues.

But she didn’t and Sanders did. Not that you’d know.

Katie Halper hosts the Katie Halper Show. You can listen to her latest episode, featuring Matt Stoller and Leslie Lee, below.