Speaking of presidential hopefuls who can’t say the right thing at the right time, former Marlyand Gov. Martin O’Malley fumbled when his speaking engagement was interrupted by protesters, Time reports.
O’Malley was speaking at Netroots Nation, a gather of progressives in Phoenix, Ariz., when a group of protesters entered the room shouting, “What side are you on, black people? What side are you on?” One protester reportedly took the microphone and asked O’Malley a yes-or-no question: “As leader of this country will you advance an agenda that will dismantle structural racism in this country?”
The notoriously “tough-on-crime” former Baltimore mayor answered in the affirmative. So far, so good, right? But eventually O’Malley morphed the protesters’ “Black lives matter” slogan in a classically tone-deaf way. “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter,” he said.
O’Malley’s only silver lining was that Bernie Sanders, the Democratic hopeful who has been energizing the left wing of the Democratic party in a way O’Malley hasn’t yet, probably screwed it up worse. Speaking after O’Malley, Sanders acted irritated by the protesters. “If you don’t want me to be here that’s okay,” he said. “I don’t want to out-scream you.”
The underlying issue is that, even the ostensibly “progressive” candidates (Sanders calls himself a socialist, for crying outloud!) tend to ignore “structural racism” as a problem unto itself that requires deliberate “dismantling.” Instead they speak broadly about income inequality and the middle class. That tendency is perfectly symbolized in O’Malley’s “All lives matter” response.
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