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NetRoots Nation Confrontation Wasn't About #BlackLivesMatter At All


NetRoots Nation Confrontation Wasn't About #BlackLivesMatter At All

Bruce Dixon

The first thing to know about the #BlackLivesMatter confrontation with Democratic presidential candidates Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders is that it didn't happen on the street or some neutral setting, it didn't happen at some random campaign appearance. It happened at the annual NetRootsNation gathering, this year in Phoenix.

NetRoots bills itself as “the largest gathering of the progressive movement” in this country. Unless you think the Democratic party IS the progressive movement, or that all “progressives” are Democrats, this is nonsense. I know, I've been to NetRoots.


Thank you BAR for placing this so succinctly into context. ‘Politics as theater’ stands in stark contrast with ‘ongoing governance as engagement’. I am reminded of the hard work of the civil society group(s) in Ferguson preparing the documentation pointing the way for DOJ work on investigating the structural problems there. Likewise civil functionality anywhere and everywhere will be achieved primarily by ongoing governance by engagement.


Oh great, not, another person who thinks Hillary C. the automatic “choice”. More lectures like the one she gave last week about having a job being an anti-poverty program.

They did it for money, not to push forward changes and policies. I guess that makes some sense, but it’s still living by a tweet or the spectacle.

The sad irony is that as mayor of Baltimore O’Malley supported polices that hurt poor people in that city, and they are more likely to be black. Meaning there were specific policies to protest, but BlackLivesMatter wasn’t bothering to think, just fundraise.


Quit saying Hillary is inevitable! Only if you don’t give someone like Sanders a fair chance is she. When I saw what happened, my first thought was that this was a dirty trick by Hillary supporters to try and take down Bernie, and O’Malley (who is doing a pretty good job of taking himself down, anyway). No officials tried to stop it. After reading this article, I think I had the right idea about what was happening. You destroy Bernie’s candidacy, you destroy the best chance we have for real change in this country, possibly for the next 10 years.


You should go read the Black Agenda Report … while I love Bruce’s and Glen’s takes on many subjects, they think Bernie is a sheepdog for the Democratic party. They think his entire campaign is basically an exercise in herding Democrats into the mix to vote for Hillary, so no surprises with this article. I’ve seen many comments here on Common Dreams in the same vein. It makes absolutely no sense to me, other than the silly conspiracy theory that it is. Bernie is being Bernie, and there is lots of room for hope. Sorry to Bruce and Glen that the first black President was a progressive bust, but we gotta get over that and move on. To me, Bernie Sanders is the best hope we have of ANY significant change. An insider with an outsider’s attitude. Strong supporter of and fighter for the mass of people, but someone who understands politics as well and how things work … uh, currently. I’d call him somewhat of a Manchurian Candidate, if I didn’t fear I’d look like a douche … :—) but there it is …


I don’t doubt Sanders’ sincerity regarding his later remarks pertaining to Sandra Bland’s ostensible murder in Texas during his NetRoots rally appearance. I believe he was genuinely appalled by the nature of her death. But he seemed completely caught off guard at NetRoots.

I understand that Sanders is tied to the Democratic Party, whether he calls himself a “socialist” or an “Independent” or whatever else. He would never have gotten from US state politics into national politics if he had not come to some kind of understanding or agreement with the Democratic Party. Non-conclusion would have invariably guaranteed the success of the nefarious, diabolic, and destructive elements of the capitalist rulers of the US and the Republican Party. I still believe, on following his record in state and national US politics, that his political persona, his convictions, are different than the stereotypical Democrat, the party’s pandering chattel. One who sells himself or herself to either of the US’s duopolistic parties essentially must make a pact with the devil to be inducted into their respective clubs. Sanders has always made an effort to be more honest and sincere.

At the coronation of the Queen of Hell, at the point that the ignorant, self-centered, and submissive zombies that are the acolytes of the Democratic Party attest to their adulation of Evil, Sanders will be no more. While it will be an exercise in futility, I will vote for the candidate Stein as a final ineffectual cry against those who insure the demise of humanity along with most of the rest of the living earth.


Yes, I immediately dismiss anyone who refers to other people as sheep, or zombies. For the record, people should also know that Bruce Dixon is an officer in the Georgia Green Party, which is his right of course. His analysis of the NetRoots deal is refreshing. However, I think the damage has been done. No matter if it was intentional or simply a result of an event gone awry, Bernie is now part of the conversation as a race insensitive old white man. Grave damage was done to his campaign, not to mention the injustice done to him personally. I voted Green last time and it was the last time. Green is dead, kaput, over, wilted, if Bernie fails, unlike Mr. Dixon’s sheep, I’ll go for a long walk with camera in hand on election day, there is no plan B. Go Bernie.


“It was about flying the #BlackLivesMatter flag to jockey for positions inside the machinery that is the Democratic party and its affiliates.”: Sounds pretty accurate. I doubt the BLM would have needed to do this at a Green Party or Socialist gathering.


And you will probably have a lot of company.


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This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Just as Bernie was showing real traction on being a candidate and drawing bigger crowds than anyone else in the race, suddenly his momentum gets sidetracked as if he had a bad civil rights record. As if he needed to apologize for something that he had no connection to and was in fact the most sympathetic of the lot to racial issues and had been all his life… Blam!

Hillary sends an email. The Repubs don’t even do that much. Bernie takes the hit.

It was an opportunistic incident. They didn’t care if Bernie had marched in civil rights marches nor supported civil rights issues and social justice. What was Bernie’s connection to the crime in Texas?

What a crock to say that Bernie had to answer for what others did? Why did Bernie need to say her name? So then will Hillary get the same treatment? Will each of the Republicans take a similar hit in front gof the cameras? Why do I wonder if such an incident were tried in front of the repubs that it would show courage to attempt it? Bernie was easy and in fact SAFE.

Doing it to Bernie was sad… he supports our causes despite all the quotes from one unbalanced counterpunch article. Bernie is not on the side of oligarchy and you get the sense that he’d listen to what people want. So they took a cheap shot against the one candidate that has most supported civil rights in his life and person. It was safe and easy to do.

Will those same few people cry when someone less sympathetic to progressive issues gets elected? A big smile for the cameras … are the republicans next? I guess we will see then. You may think my post here is harsh… so then someone explain why Bernie had to answer for anything that happened in Texas? Why Bernie’s long record of support for minority issues (that’s why I am mad) didn’t count? Why the hell not?

So to all who blithely state that Bernie had ‘to show’ where he stood (like he needed to prove with mere words what his record already proved by actions?)… time to show it wasn’t just taking advantage of an easy target and a friend and supporter… time to show some courage and prove sincerity… time to make the Repubs say her name on stage in front of the cameras. Time to make Hillary answer for what someone else did in Texas other than just an email.

Or will it only be Bernie who pays the penalty for something he had nothing to with?

Not Bernie the long and courageously dedicated fighter against corporatist oligarchy and supporter and defender of civil rights …

but instead…

…Bernie the grumpy old white guy?


I agree with all that you say. And it was shameless, with a touch of arrogance, for BLM to do what they did that day. I don’t think BLM really cares much for the black community at all, otherwise it wouldn’t have attacked the one rare proponent for equality, whether racially or socio-economically.


Excellent, by the time I could have written what you did my blood pressure would have been dangerously unnhealthy. I’ll just say Chris Hedges, some at Counterpunch, this guy Paul Street, et al. treat Bernie as if he were a representative of antebellum Democrats. The disproportionate condemnation of Bernie by this crowd has no reasonable relation to his record, it tells me more about them than Bernie. Hedges worries that Bernie will resurrect the Democratic Party, such nonsense. As I often relate using the hermit crab analogy parties are shells filled by the candidate, not the other way round. Hedges has many templates, Bernie doesn’t fit any.


This would make sense if they wish not to be sheep.


I think their members care a lot but the temptation for an easy photo moment on stage at whatever cost to the most progressive candidate in the race was opportunistic by the leadership and reckless as well as inconsiderate towards someone who has long supported civil rights.

Does it matter what someone does in their life or is it all about a show for the cameras? I think the leadership who set up this incident wanted publicity at any cost and they took the easiest way to get some by targeting a supporter.

Nobody got arrested or anything else, a safe and easy one this time! What was their goal to keep it up until they drove Bernie (old white guy?) from the stage? Made everybody wonder what was really going on. Now we read of FBI surveillance. It is almost a guarantee that undercovers are infiltrators.

While there is no proof as yet of agent provocateurs ala Cointelpro… the pattern and modus operandi sure looks like more than simple coincidence. Certainly the end result looks conveniently like exactly the kind of negative press moments attempted back in the Sixties about progressive advocates.

Guess it was just a coincidence (?) but the rightwingnuts are all laughing because only the civil rights supporter took the hit.


Bernie blew it.

He tends to do this.

He blew it when he was asked about Palestinians being slaughtered by Israel. He becomes huffy and arrogant instead of LISTENING and then being the supportive person he later insists he is.

I’ve read the stuff released by Bernie-ites about his supposedly fantastic civil rights history. Most of the things listed have nothing to do with battling structural racism against Black Lives now. They are either ancient marching in the 60s, economic votes along the lines of his focus on class warfare (which is good) as if our racial injustice was simply and only a result of economic issues and not structural racism, or supporting foreign aid to third world countries.

I’m not a Bernie-ite, but I think this whole thing is what Bernie needed in this race. He has been thrilling the older, white, progressive element of the Democratic Party that is so connected to it they can’t conceive of leaving it. For them Bernie is a thrill and a hope. But you can’t win primaries with just them. He needs to also reach Black Democrats and this thing may be a wake up call for him. He is now starting to sound like someone who thinks racial problems are not just the result of economic issues favoring the elite, but also due to structural racism, which needs to be addressed as distinct and separate issue. If he can really get that message down he might be able to really challenge Hillary.

But back to my idea that he blew it. He had an opportunity to turn things around right then and there on stage and he blew it.

What should he have done?

Instead of trying to talk over the people chanting “Black Lives Matter” he should have joined them. Not scream it, after all he had a microphone, but just join them. He should have got the whole place joining them. He should then have thanked them for this important message. He should have let one of them speak and then promised his commitment to racial justice. Only then should he have pointed out his record of support.

But he blew it.

Whether this was a set up by the Clinton campaign or not is irrelevant. Bernie blew it.

But maybe he still can turn this around.

Although I’m a Green and supporting Jill Stein in my party’s race, I do hope Bernie knocks out Hillary. I detest that woman with her Neo-Liberal and Neo-Con ways and her arrogance that she can spout a few leftist slogans while she has no intention to act according to them, all with a wink and a nod to the church of the savvy. I’d love to see her defeated again.


I think their members care a lot<

Yes, I was differentiating the leadership from the rest: leaders from any party, organization, or even nations are susceptible to temptations of wealth, power and sometimes cheap publicity. Regarding FBI surveillance, perhaps the snoops might not need - or desire - to infiltrate BLM: any “leak” of their “surveillance” would add credibility to BLM, which would make BLM a more potent instrument to discredit Sanders.


Perhaps someone already mentioned this, but what seems to be left out of these conversations that anoint Hillary the Democratic nomination is history; in August of the 2007 campaign, Hillary enjoyed a 48% approval rating to Obama’s 23%. Hopefully, history will repeat itself.


I supported Rep.Dennis Kucnich (D_OH) in 2004—and I think he was a sincere candidate—and UNLIKE Sen.Bernie Sanders he did NOT say FROM THE FIRST that he’d support the Democratic nomimnee. Bernie HAS said he’ll support Hillary if he doesn’t get the nomination. What a way to UNDERMINE his own campaign! He WON’T even criticize HRC! I paln to vote for Bernie in MN’s Democratic Party Caucus (we dont have primaries here)–but,I’mn working for GREEN PARTY candiate—whoever it is will be UNDOUBTEDLY A PROGRESSIVE.