Sanders Speaks against Racism, Injustice

As Hillary Clinton seeks to finally extinguish Bernie Sanders’s campaign, the Vermont senator continues to speak out against the Establishment’s neglect of social justice and against the racism coming from Donald Trump, reports Marjorie Cohn.

By Marjorie Cohn

As I sat in the San Diego sunshine on Sunday listening to Bernie Sanders outside of Qualcomm Stadium, I was struck by the stunning contrast between the senator from Vermont and Donald Trump, particularly on the issue of race.

Sanders emphasized racial justice, citing the courage of African-Americans and their allies who fought against racism and bigotry during Jim Crow. He talked of the thousands of undocumented workers who are ruthlessly exploited, overworked and underpaid, vowing to end the current deportation policies. Sanders seeks to “unite, not divide families.” And he wants to “fundamentally change” the federal government’s oppressive relationship with the Native American community.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to one of his large crowds of supporters. (Photo credit: Sanders campaign)

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to one of his large crowds of supporters. (Photo credit: Sanders campaign)

There are more people in U.S. prisons than in any other country in the world, Sanders noted. Those imprisoned, he said, are disproportionately African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. The senator wants to invest in “jobs and education, not jails and incarceration.”

Sanders was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He served as president of the Congress of Racial Equality at the University of Chicago, organizing pickets and sit-ins, which led to his 1963 arrest for “resisting arrest.”

When Dr. Cornel West, author of the book Race Matters, introduced Sanders, he said the senator stands on the shoulders of Martin Luther King Jr., Edward Said and Cesar Chavez. Said, a professor at Columbia University, was a path-breaking Palestinian-American activist scholar, who decried the “dehumanization of Palestinians to the level of beasts virtually without sentience or motive.”

The overwhelming popularity of Sanders prompted the Democratic National Committee to invite him to nominate several members to the platform committee for the Democratic Convention. Much to the consternation of Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ choices included Dr. West, Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Keith Ellison, and Arab-American Institute president James Zogby, all staunch supporters of Palestinian rights.

Sanders called out Donald Trump for his bigotry, saying, “In the year 2016, the American people will not accept a bigoted president.” He added, “We are not going back. We will not accept a candidate that insults Latinos, Muslims, women, veterans and African-Americans.” Sanders reminded us that Trump was a leader of the birther movement, whose aim was to delegitimize Barack Obama as president because he is black.

Trump has a nasty habit of attacking people based on their race. His most recent assault was on Gonzalo Curiel, a well-respected federal judge in San Diego, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed by people claiming they were scammed by Trump University. When Curiel ordered the unsealing of documents in the case, Trump mounted a double-barrel assault on the judge, stating that Curiel had “an absolute conflict” that should disqualify him from the case. Trump’s reasons: “He is a Mexican.”

Trump explained what he saw as the “conflict”; it was because “I’m building a wall” on the Mexican border. “It’s an inherent conflict of interest.”

Curiel is a U.S. citizen born to Mexican immigrant parents. Trump also maintains that a Muslim judge might treat him unfairly because Trump has advocated the temporary exclusion of most foreign Muslims from entering the United States. But federal courts have roundly rejected the claim that the ethnicity of a judge disqualifies him or her from hearing a case.

Trump has also vowed to deport 11 million undocumented workers from the United States.

The overt racism of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate is causing hand-wringing in GOP circles. Republican strategist Brian Walsh characterized Trump’s comments as “racist, nonsensical” and “the definition of racism.”

Veteran GOP operative Rick Wilson is also alarmed at Trump’s racism, noting that the Republican Party “own[s] the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign.” Wilson said that Trump’s comments about Curiel and Muslim judges are “overtly racist.”

Trump’s racism is also evident in his pandering to people based on their race. He recently pointed out a black man in the crowd, declaring, “Oh, look at my African-American over here – look at him.”

Sanders has cited Trump’s demagoguery, which, the senator thinks, is a reaction to fear and anger that many people feel, leading them to embrace scapegoating.

“Don’t go to the dark side,” Sanders implores. He advocates building a strong, progressive movement. “Real change,” he told us on Sunday, “has never taken place from the top on down, only from the bottom up.”

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She writes, speaks and does media about human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her latest book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter at @marjoriecohn.

12 comments for “Sanders Speaks against Racism, Injustice

  1. Bill Bodden
    June 7, 2016 at 12:51

    Sanders was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He served as president of the Congress of Racial Equality at the University of Chicago, organizing pickets and sit-ins, which led to his 1963 arrest for “resisting arrest.”

    And the Congressional Black Caucus and other black leaders, after their leader was assassinated, bought round-trip tickets on the Underground Railroad to settle on the Clinton Plantation where schemes (welfare “reform” and bringing young black men “to heel”) were concocted to benefit friends of the Clintons and to the cruel detriment of countless black families in the lower economic strata…

  2. Brad Benson
    June 7, 2016 at 02:37

    So in an election between Hillary Clinton, a War Criminal, and Donald J. Trump, an alleged “racist”, does the author believe that we should vote for the War Criminal? Sanders is about to go out of the race and endorse the War Criminal. When he does, he will prove himself to be a hypocrite.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 7, 2016 at 10:50

      Brad, I agree with you when it comes to your analysis of Clinton and Trump. When it comes to Bernie cashing in and endorsing Hillary, I would suggest that we all stay cool. As the saying goes, it ain’t over til the fat lady sings, may have some valuable merit. I could be wrong, but from what I know of Bernie I would not put it a pass him to not endorse Hillary. Boy, if only Hillary had to follow the same rules we all live by, what a difference this could make.

    • Bill Bodden
      June 7, 2016 at 13:10

      At this point the best option for the American people appears to be to get out in very large, historic numbers and vote for “none of the above” whether it is in the form of a vote for Jill Stein or a write-in for anyone else. As I said on another thread, if 100 million people vote but Clinton and Trump only get ten million each, the nation will get the message that 80 million people don’t want either Clinton or Trump. Not that it will sway whichever disaster moves into the White House or the courtesans in Congress.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      June 7, 2016 at 14:30

      He is not a hypocrite. True, he would supporting someone whose foreign policy he disagrees with – he actually has far more in common when it comes to foreign policy with Trump – the differences are Trump advocating killing the innocent families of Islamic State fighters and saying if the U.S had to go to Iraq in 2003, a war which he turned against from what I’ve heard (I was a kid at the time), they should have stolen the oil. But his social and welfare policies are closer to Clinton’s than to Trump’s, and therefore he will not bear to support Trump. Hence, he will support Clinton.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        June 7, 2016 at 14:39

        He supports Native Americans? That’s excellent! Also, I didn’t know Native Americans were disproportionately represented in the prison system in the United States. I knew that was the case in Canada, but I didn’t know that was the case in the United States.

        I’m glad to wants to invest in “jobs and education” for blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, and criticizes the overworking, low pay, and exploitation of Latino workers. It’s high time something was done about that. I watched a video on “Secular Talk” in which I discovered that in the meat industry (I think it was beef, to be precise, and Detroit was possibly a city mentioned) that Latino workers are forced to wear diapers because their employers won’t let them use the bathroom, and they can’t do anything about it because they’re illegal immigrants and will get deported. SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT THAT NOW.

  3. Dennis Merwood
    June 6, 2016 at 23:54

    Joe, I too just love Majorie’s work. An incredibly decent human. Why is she not on the SCOTUS?

    You know this whole “Bernie Sanders Revolution” is going to be discussed by historians for years.

    But for me, three things are going to stand out. It was a mistake for an independent to run on the Democratic ticket. The Democratic Party is anything but, and forgot it’s roots of being for ordinary working class people. And lastly, the Democratic Party, and DNC, will never recover from the fiasco that they have created by marginalizing Bernie Sanders in such shameful ways.

    I’m still praying for a miracle, that the “Queen of Chaos” does not end up representing us progressive voters. That will be an unmitigated disaster for America, and the World.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 7, 2016 at 00:13

      I to have questioned the wisdom of Bernie running as a Democrate, but if he had run as an Independent would he have received any press coverage at all? If the glass is to be left half full, let’s hope that the young voters who supported him hang around long enough to change the Democrate’s back to being the FDR party it once was. With a gloomy economy ahead, these young people may pursue that goal unlike my 60’s generation who traded in their anti war antiestablishment values for the so called better life. This may become a reality since the next generation is made up of more minority’s who never did have access to the American Dream. The real conquest will be to overcome the corporate fascism which has overtaken our society. In the meantime I am hunkering down for the next four years while striving the reign of Queen Hillary. Her rule maybe more inspiring than you know.

    • Bill Bodden
      June 7, 2016 at 13:03

      I’m still praying for a miracle, that the “Queen of Chaos” does not end up representing us progressive voters.

      You can bet your last penny the Queen of Chaos will not represent progressive voters. You would have better odds buying a lottery ticket.

  4. Joe Tedesky
    June 6, 2016 at 23:05

    Marjorie Cohen you are pretty great yourself, as I always find what you write to be based on good and decent values, and with that I will quit embarrassing you with praise.

    My whole family, especially our women (my wife, 5 daughters, 6 granddaughter’s) are Sanders supporters. Today on the radio there was a report of how Hillary had clinched the presumptive Democrate nomination. They interviewed women who were crying over the fact that we may finally have our first woman president. This would be wonderful if it were not for the simple fact that this nominee is Hillary Clinton. Some of us in my family have followed Bernie for a long time, mostly from his being a regular on the Thom Hartmann radio broadcast. Others in my family did a lot of their own research on both Sanders, and Clinton. Need I tell you how there was no contest after what they learned. Hillary was rejected by all, after reading Diania Johnstone’s ‘Queen of Chaos’, and my wife was throughly shook up after reading Kathleen Willey’s story. I have come to the conclusion that many, maybe even most Americans are swayed by the bad information, and punditry which is provided most abundantly by our American news media. With that, I will just thank you, along with Robert Parry, and the many other terrific writers who contribute to this site, and oh yeah the wonderful commenters too.

    • June 7, 2016 at 06:51

      Bernie is very precise about everything he wants to accomplish. He’s super intelligent, has integrity, and also the foresight and fortitude to be a LEADER! His policies are for 95% of the American people- the only ones who should be against him are the upper 5%?. It’s a shame the American electorate fail to seize the day! They may never get another opportunity for real change post Hillary. I can assure you, the world after Clinton will not look like the world before Bushes! Some important things have been bent, many of them broken. The damage she will cause will make Robert Frost’s birches look like a few bent twigs.

      Hopefully, the truth of what professor Petras says will resonate with reason of ordinary Americans out there, if not with the political class. Electing a Foreign Spy for President?

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 7, 2016 at 10:54

        Debbie, I hear you. I’m not happy either, about this Hillary thing, but it is what it is. Keep the faith Debbie, because we all need people who feel the way you do. Stay well.

Comments are closed.