In the Blackest setting yet where Democratic debates have been held in this young political primary season, the all-white lineup of candidates for president seemed to show their truest of colors when discussing the Charleston church massacre during the debate in South Carolina on Tuesday night.
While the CBS News debate moderators led them down the wrong road by broaching the topic as only a gun issue instead of highlighting that fact that it was also and especially a racist act of domestic terrorism, the candidates never once acknowledged the glaring omission of the obvious and proven racial aspect in the misguided line of questioning. The unfortunate episode all unfolded in Charleston, just steps away from the historically Black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where proud white supremacist gunman Dylann Roof admitted he wanted to start a “race war” by executing nine African American parishioners in cold blood in 2015.
Instead of candidates using the moment as a chance to address the growing and thriving white nationalist movement that Roof said he committed murder in the name of, candidates steered the topic to gun control.
Joe Biden made the briefest of references — and the only one — to white supremacy in the context of the church shooting before he quickly made the act of racist domestic terror about what he called Bernie Sanders’ questionable support of gun control.
To be clear, gun control is a necessary conversation and an undeniable aspect of the shooting that should be recognized, but it should not be overstated in a political system that has fostered the proliferation of guns in American society.
People sounded off on social media when they noticed the obvious oversight during the portion of the debate about the Charleston church shooting.
The candidates came into Tuesday night’s debate with Biden holding a shrinking polling lead in South Carolina ahead of Sanders, whose support nationally has been widening in recent weeks, especially after the Vermont senator’s resounding victory in the Nevada Caucuses last weekend. South Carolina is where Biden was expected to reclaim his once-solid command over the other Democratic candidates, powered in part by Black voters, whose voices would finally be heard once the state holds its own primary on Saturday.
But nothing has been a guarantee in this young primary season thus far, with Pete Buttigieg winning in Iowa before Sanders swept the next two contests in New Hampshire and Nevada. The three contests have been a major blow to Biden’s campaign, which many pundits have said needs to win in South Carolina to have any chance of winning enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee — a position he had been presumed to win since he entered the race.
With that said, Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have also made considerable inroads with Black voters in recent weeks, thanks in n small part to former candidate Kamala Harris, whose campaign was pillaged by the aforementioned billionaires. Steyer literally stole crucial voter data from the campaign of Harris, who had gotten a considerable amount of support from Black voters in South Carolina when one of her staffers defected to Bloomberg’s campaign. Is has hardly been seen as a coincidence why the two wealthy white men are consequently performing so well with Black voters and in South Carolina.
Speaking of Bloomberg, his list of Black leaders endorsing his campaign has continued to grow despite his racist legacy of the NYPD‘s stop and frisk policing tactics that caused his rivals to pounce on him during the previous debate in Las Vegas. Elizabeth Warren, in particular, came at Bloomberg extra hard when she reminded viewers of the former New York City’s reputation for sexism, something women have accused him of in the past.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians,” Warren said at the start of the debate in Nevada. “And no I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” She continued: “Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop and frisk.”
Sanders has a commanding lead among delegates, with 45 to Buttigieg’s 25, followed by Biden, Warren and Amy Klobuchar, who has been battling the resurgence of an old case she prosecuted as an attorney in Minnesota involving a Black teen who has maintained his innocence. Myon Burrell, who was 16 when he was charged with killing an 11-year-old in a case prosecuted under then-Hennepin County Attorney Klobuchar, said a lack of evidence led to his conviction and eventual life sentence. He holds Klobuchar as the “source of everything that happened, with her charging me” in an interview with ABC News.
“She gave the police free rein and just said, ‘bring me back a conviction, secure me a conviction’ and that’s what they did, by any means necessary,” the now-33-year-old Burrell said.
The South Carolina primary is Saturday.