Comedian and political satirist Bill Maher does not think it's a good idea for Black Lives Matter activists to target Hillary Clinton's record on helping (or not helping) black Americans, given that there are other candidates running for president who are a hell of a lot worse—e.g., Donald Trump.
During a segment of his HBO show, Real Time With Bill Maher, on Friday, Maher slammed the BLM activist who interrupted the Democratic presidential candidate during a fundraiser. The activist challenged Clinton on a comment she made years ago about how the nation must bring troubled youths—Clinton called them "superpredators"—to heel for the crimes they commit. A lot of those troubled youths lived in working-class communities reeling from the effects of deindustrialization and racial discrimination and turned to sometimes illegal means of coping and earning money.
The activist asked Clinton to apologize to black people for mass incarceration.
"Of the thousand things I can complain about with Hillary Clintion, being a racist really doesn't rise to the top of it," Maher said during his segment.
Eh. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of black families and communities that were decimated because of the Bill Clinton-era drug policies that turned a health crisis and a labor crisis into a criminal one. Tell that to the black men and women who are sitting in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, serving astronomical sentences while their white counterparts serve only a fraction of that time.
It may not be "racist", per se, but because her husband—and, by extension, his No. 1 surrogate at the time, Hillary Clinton—missed the racial implications of his drug policies, they damned generations of African Americans.
"Does this person realize that Donald Trump in South Carolina … 20 percent of the voters who voted for Donald Trump disagree with the Emancipation Proclamation?" Maher said. "And this is who you're going after? This is where we start the battle? You f—king idiots!" he proclaimed.
It sounds like Maher doesn't think that black people can do two things at once—that is, be disappointed with Clinton and her record on bolstering the prison-industrial complex at the expense of black lives, and not pay Trump any dust because engaging with overt racists is a waste of time.
The record shows that BLM activists have been awfully successful as of late with getting both Democratic presidential candidates—Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders—to vie for the black vote, because the candidates know that black people aren't necessarily wild about either one of them. By pressing these candidates on issues and their records, we force them to explain and articulate their vision for black Americans.
Being quiet, sitting back, and letting Clinton or Sanders feel reassured about having the black vote in the bag is not going to help the African-American agenda. Maher needs to come to that realization—quick.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.