I looked at the Reuters home page, and saw this article about Hillary Clinton’s recent prison system speech:
Years from now historians might label this speech as Clinton’s reverse “Sister Souljah” moment.
During Bill Clinton’s first run for the presidency, in 1992, he sought to establish his mainstream credibility by hijacking a Jesse Jackson Rainbow/PUSH conference and chastising black activist Sister Souljah for her provocative remarks about the Los Angeles riots. Now Hillary Clinton has used a predominantly white policy forum to implicitly repudiate the racist policies and politics that have shaped American urban policy over the past three decades.
Amazingly, this nonsense was written by “a professor of history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University.”
The transcript of the speech is here. I guess Hillary Clinton is supposed to get credit for repeating things in the news that everybody knows about? Basic acknowledgement of reality is now notable. What’s this really all about?
There is something wrong when trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve breaks down as far as it has in many of our communities.
We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance. And these recent tragedies should galvanize us to come together as a nation to find our balance again.
We should begin by heeding the pleas of Freddie Gray’s family for peace and unity, echoing the families of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and others in the past years.
Those who are instigating further violence in Baltimore are disrespecting the Gray family and the entire community. They are compounding the tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death and setting back the cause of justice. So the violence has to stop.
But more broadly, let’s remember that everyone in every community benefits when there is respect for the law and when everyone in every community is respected by the law. That is what we have to work towards in Baltimore and across our country.
We must urgently begin to rebuild the bonds of trust and respect among Americans. Between police and citizens, yes, but also across society.
Restoring trust in our politics, our press, our markets. Between and among neighbors and even people with whom we disagree politically.
This is so fundamental to who we are as a nation and everything we want to achieve together.
Distrust for the police is inconvenient for them. Hillary Clinton is trustworthy because she spent the 1990s supporting everything that made the problems worse:
Clinton put a permanent eligibility ban for welfare or food stamps on anyone convicted of a felony drug offense (including marijuana possession). He prohibited drug felons from public housing. Any liberal arts grad with an HBO account can tell you the consequences for poor, black American cities like Baltimore. As Alexander writes, “More than any other president, [Clinton] created the current racial undercaste.”
While it’s true that it was Bill who, as president, was ultimately responsible for these decision, Hillary was nonetheless a famously involved First Lady on political matters — a reputation she’s shown willingness to capitalize on in her new campaign. According to a 2013 Wall Street Journal report, Hillary has “signaled she would use the 1990s as a selling point if she jumps in the race, making the case that, as first lady, she was part of an era that found solutions to the same sorts of political difficulties that bedevil present-day Washington.” That legacy includes Bill Clinton’s “War on Drugs,” whether you like it or not.
As recently noted by Reason.com, Hillary actively lobbied for the aforementioned criminal justice reforms as First Lady and, as a New York senator, voted to expand grants that dramatically scaled up police involvement in anti-terror and homeland security efforts. She also said things like this, in support of a crime bill that would impose draconian new sentencing provisions:
“We need more police, we need more and tougher prison sentences for repeat offenders. The three strikes and you’re out for violent offenders has to be part of the plan. We need more prisons to keep violent offenders for as long as it takes to keep them off the streets.”
Clinton admits she knew better:
I learned this firsthand as a young attorney just out of law school—at one of those law schools that will remain nameless here at Columbia. One of my earliest jobs for the Children’s Defense Fund, which David had mentioned—I was so fortunate to work with Marian Wright Edelman as a young lawyer and then serving on the board of the Children’s Defense Fund—was studying the problem then of youth, teenagers, sometimes preteens, incarcerated in adult jails. Then, as director of the University of Arkansas School of Law’s legal aid clinic, I advocated on behalf of prison inmates and poor families.
I saw repeatedly how our legal system can be and all too often is stacked against those who have the least power, who are the most vulnerable.
I saw how families could be and were torn apart by excessive incarceration. I saw the toll on children growing up in homes shattered by poverty and prison.
So, unfortunately, I know these are not new challenges by any means.
Sister Soulja went on Larry King to defend herself and pwnt a bunch of racists. They’re way better at shouting people down and cutting their mics and going to commercial nowadays. Larry King is a Serious News Personality, and he’s very sure to emphasize that she’s an “entertainer,” right from the start. Also, I think he suspects she may like watermelon.
Wait a second. What’s Hillary Clinton proposing that we actually do?
We should make sure every police department in the country has body cameras to record interactions between officers on patrol and suspects.
That will improve transparency and accountability, it will help protect good people on both sides of the lens. For every tragedy caught on tape, there surely have been many more that remained invisible. Not every problem can be or will be prevented with cameras, but this is a commonsense step we should take.
The President has provided the idea of matching funds to state and local governments investing in body cameras. We should go even further and make this the norm everywhere.
And we should listen to law enforcement leaders who are calling for a renewed focus on working with communities to prevent crime, rather than measuring success just by the number of arrests or convictions.
As your Senator from New York, I supported a greater emphasis on community policing, along with putting more officers on the street to get to know those communities.
David Dinkins was an early pioneer of this policy. His leadership helped lay the foundation for dramatic drops in crime in the years that followed.
And today smart policing in communities that builds relationships, partnerships, and trust makes more sense than ever.
We should passively record everything in the vicinity of cops now that it’s technically feasible, and we should send cops everywhere. Got it.