Bernie Sanders’ big test: Can he learn from his Netroots Nation conflict with Black Lives Matter activists?

The 73-year-old socialist got where he is by sticking to his guns. But his righteousness stunts his political reach

Bernie Sanders’ big test: Can he learn from his Netroots Nation conflict with Black Lives Matter activists?

Desiree Griffiths demonstrates at a Miami protest, Dec. 5, 2014; Bernie Sanders (Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky/Carolyn Kaster)

Sen. Bernie Sanders is who he is: a 73-year-old socialist inured to being told he’s wrong, politically, who’s developed an ironclad hold on the conviction that he’s right. So it’s not surprising that he’s resisting learning lessons from his early campaign stumbles at winning support from African Americans and Latinos.

If you’re a Sanders fan, part of what you like about him is that he sticks to his guns. In fact, Sanders fans are a lot like him: used to being on the political margins, they’ve learned to take refuge in the knowledge of their righteousness, which eases the sting of being perpetually in the political minority.

Unfortunately, the mutually reinforcing self-righteousness of Sanders and his supporters is a liability for his promising presidential campaign. Sanders has a genuine problem with the Democratic Party’s African American and Latino base, and no amount of insisting that class supersedes race will change that. I wrote about it last month, and got a ton of pushback from Sanders backers. Then came the conflict at Netroots Nation on Saturday, where Sanders was heckled by Black Lives Matter protesters.

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#BlackLivesMatter co-founder warns presidential candidates: ‘We will shut down every single debate

[This is another in series on electoral politics. In the US, every four years, presidential elections are theatrically staged, designed to confuse and disrupt popular movements against class exploitation and racial oppression, and other democratic movements. The elections claim to be the way democracy works, and people must vote for politicians to represent their interests. Whoever wins, the people’s interests have been lost in the shuffle, and their independence and political initiative and action has been suffocated or destroyed. As the 2016 election candidacies begin to control the political imaginations of millions, a fight-back begins to grow.  In this report of a Black Lives Matter protest at a Bernie Sanders campaign event, a BLM leader says no politician deserves automatic support (but leaves open the option for later). — Frontlines ed.]

Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City (Shuttershock)

Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City (Shuttershock)

“He couldn’t take 15 more minutes of the heat,” Cullors said of Sanders in an interview on This Week in Blackness, making reference to the senator ending his appearance as demonstrators at the event walked out en masse.

“It’s ugly, it’s vicious, it’s brutal”: Cornel West on Israel in Palestine — and why Gaza is “the hood on steroids”

Cornel West speaks with a Stanford professor about the divestment effort and Palestinian activism
David Palumbo-Liu, writing in salon.com, Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015

Cornel West (Credit: Albert H. Teich via Shutterstock)

One of the fundamental questions with regard to the critique of — and activism against — the Israeli occupation: How does this connect up with other social movements, and other struggles? Is the case of Israel and Palestine so specific, so complex, as to resist analogy? And if so, what does that mean for those who would be inclined to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, but unable to see their way clear to act in solidarity with them, as they might for others? Continue reading

Hollywood’s political deafness: What Cosby, “Selma” and Hebdo reveal about white liberal consciousness

 [Hollywood’s icons, blathering liberal mantras, reveal the bankruptcy of US’ liberal culture in addressing any of the critical issues of the day. — Frontlines ed.]

Hollywood's political deafness: What Cosby, "Selma" & Hebdo reveal about white liberal consciousness

George Clooney at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards, Jan. 11, 2015. (Credit: AP/Paul Drinkwater)

 

 Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015

Race and gender politics at this year’s Golden Globes took an unexpected range of twists and turns. First, hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler shamelessly mocked the many rape allegations against Bill Cosby. Given that there has been a significant strain of public resistance among some African-Americans to the racial politics of a group of white women dethroning a powerful black man through the accusation of rape, Fey and Poehler’s bit was ballsy, to be sure. But the reality is that Cosby most probably did drug and/or assault many women, white and black. And in the absence of a day in court, he, at the very least, deserves our highest ridicule. It is he, not we, who has “destroyed his legacy.”

Then many of the award winners took especial care to express their solidarity with the people of Paris, still reeling over last week’s terrorist attacks that killed 17 French citizens, including 12 staff members of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine. Many actors and actresses including George Clooney, Kathy Bates and Helen Mirren displayed “Je Suis Charlie” signs and pins on the Red Carpet and during the awards. Clooney even took a moment to mention the massive solidarity marches that took place all over the world on Sunday to honor the victims.

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Wal-Mart’s Crimes in the Exploitation of Bangladeshi workers: Class war crimes

Wal-Mart wouldn’t pay for Bangladeshi factory safety improvements

Before a factory fire that killed 112, the retailer had decided supplier fire safety was too expensive to cover

By , Thursday, Dec 6, 2012

Wal-Mart wouldn't pay for Bangladeshi factory safety improvements[Bangladeshi police officials stand guard outside burnt garment factory in the Savar neighborhood in Dhaka (AP Photo/ khurshed Rinku)]

At a meeting in April 2011, more than a dozen retailers including Wal-Mart, Gap, Target and JC Penney met in Dhaka to discuss safety at their supplier Bangladeshi garment factories. Bloomberg News revealed minutes from this meeting Wednesday, which show that Wal-Mart nixed a plan that would require retailers to pay their suppliers enough to cover safety improvements.

Last month, a fire in a factory used by Wal-Mart killed 112 workers. There were no fire exits. Despite the fact that more than 700 Bangladeshi garment workers have died since 2005, Wal-Mart and Gap refused last year to pay higher costs for safety. Bloomberg cited comments from a document produced by Wal-mart’s director of ethical sourcing and a Gap official for the Dhaka meeting. It stated:

“Specifically to the issue of any corrections on electrical and fire safety, we are talking about 4,500 factories, and in most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories. It is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”

Scott Nova, the executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, commented on Bloomberg’s revelations to Josh Eidelson for the Nation. “No company that is unwilling to pay [factories] enough to make it possible for them to operate safely can claim to be interested in any way in the rights or safety of workers,”  said Nova. He described Wal-Mart’s position in the Dhaka discussions as “1) We know these factories are unsafe. 2) We know it will cost substantial sums to make them safe. 3) We are not going to pay for this. 4) We are going to keep using the factories anyway.” Continue reading

Another embarassing story for iPhone5 owners

Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012

Foxconn admits to hiring 14-year-olds

Apple’s contract electronics makers used underage interns for cheap labor

By

Foxconn admits to hiring 14-year-olds[Apple store Beijing(Credit: Shutterstock)]

Foxconn Technology Group, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has acknowledged hiring children as young as 14 in a Chinese factory. An internal investigation, following allegations from labor rights groups in China, found teenagers younger than the legal working age of 16 at a plant in Yantai, in northeastern Shandong province.

“This is not only a violation of China’s labor law, it is also a violation of Foxconn policy and immediate steps have been taken to return the interns in question to their educational institutions,”a Foxconn statement announced according to Reuters. The 56 underage interns found will now be sent back to their schools.

This is not the first labor scandal for Foxconn, Apple Inc.’s largest manufacturer. In Northern China September a riot broke out at a Foxconn plant assembling iPhones over living conditions at the factory’s on-site dormitories. Foxconn were forced to improve working conditions at a number of their Chinese iPhone and iPad plants following numerous reports of labor abuses and the suicide of 14 Foxconn factory workers in China in 2010.

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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AFP: Foxconn admits employing underage interns in China

By Benjamin Yeh, Agence France-Presse
October 17, 2012

Taiwan’s Foxconn has admitted employing children as young as 14 on assembly lines at a plant in China, a fresh blow to the tech giant that has been attacked over its treatment of staff after several suicides.

The company, which makes products for Apple and Sony, admitted it hired the underage workers as part of an internship programme, reflecting a practice rights groups said is widespread among enterprises in China. Continue reading

Spain steps up more austerity amid protests

The government is due to pass its 2013 austerity budget, which includes further salary freezes for government workers.

 27 Sep 2012
 [Photo: Protesters have gathered for a second day in a row to rally against the austerity measures in the country [Reuters]]

Thousands of protesters rallied near the Spanish parliament for a second straight night on Wednesday after a rough day on the markets again raised the spectre of a full bailout and deeper economic pain.

Shouting “Government resign!” and “We are not afraid”, demonstrators faced off against riot police in the Plaza de Neptuno, the same area of Madrid where officers beat protesters and fired rubber bullets to disperse them on Tuesday night.

“I came yesterday and I’ll come every day to say no to this system,” said Angel Alcaide, a 30-year-old engineer who carried a sign reading “Resign”.

“This government is worse than the last. It protects its privileges, its luxuries, and the people just get cuts in health and education,” said 26-year-old Carmen Lopez, who lives in London, pushed abroad, she said, by the lack of jobs for young people.

But mass protests seemed the least of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s problems as the prospect of an international rescue revived.

Spain’s borrowing costs crept back up to danger levels and the stock market plunged on Wednesday, as pressure from Catalonia, which called snap elections in a drive for greater independence, added to the gloom.

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