Hillary Clinton cannot seem to properly recall the Confederate flag controversy
In a span of less than 24 hours, Hillary Clinton and her campaign managed to release a series of truly bewildering statements that show a startling lack of understanding of fairly recent and painful episodes in this country’s history.
The first was her comments about former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “low-key advocacy” during the AIDS crisis. As pretty much everyone pointed out immediately, Clinton’s version of the Reagans’ response to AIDS was the exact opposite of reality. The Reagans did their best to completely ignore a public health crisis that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people throughout most of their time in the White House. To praise their response is insulting. Clinton eventually published an apology:
Hillary Clinton’s statement on her comments about the Reagans’ record on HIV and AIDS: pic.twitter.com/RtIs0zpJfk
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 11, 2016
This is a weak apology. First of all, the question of whether Nancy Reagan was a strong supporter of stem cell research to cure a disease her husband suffered from has nothing to do with Clinton’s comments on HIV/AIDS. All this serves to do is make people who didn’t actually hear the interview think she simply messed up and said AIDS when she meant Alzheimer’s. This is also what the word “misspoke” implies. This is simply not true. It’s very clear if you watch the entire interview.
The discussion of stem cell research takes place fairly early on. Clinton is the one who chooses to suddenly pivot away from gun control to talk about AIDS (around the four-minute mark). While she does briefly mention Alzheimer’s again, Clinton then says “the other point I wanted to make, too, is …” and then she launches into the AIDS bit. If she truly did misspeak, she did it for an impressively long time and seemed oddly well-prepared to do so, having brought it up herself.
The next slip up came in her statement about Friday night’s cancelled Trump rally:
Violence has no place in our politics. We should use our words and deeds to bring Americans together. pic.twitter.com/FofjognpIA
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 12, 2016
The first four sentences of this statement are fine. You may not agree with them, but there’s nothing inherently strange or offensive about them. Suddenly, though, it pivots to the Charleston shooting and the subsequent debate over the Confederate flag as a somehow prime example of how things should be done. What?
First of all, this statement seems to imply that we shouldn’t try to change things until some sort of violent tragedy occurs. Surely that’s not what she meant, but that’s how it reads. Secondly, where is Clinton getting this idea that after the shooting in Charleston, everyone just sort of collectively agreed that the Confederate flag was bad because the families of the victims had “melted hearts”? That’s not what happened at all. It was surely part of it, but Bree Newsome’s arrest for climbing up a flag pole and physically removing the flag from the front lawn of the South Carolina State House and dozens of other protests surely had something to do with it, too.
Finally, it should never have come to that in the first place. It’s been mentioned over and over and over again, but the Confederate battle flag is represents a treasonous regime and is an explicitly racist symbol that was used by those who opposed desegregation in the 1960s (and the KKK is pretty fond of it, too). It should have come down 150 years ago. This is a terrible example of progress. If it takes that long and is only inspired by death, we need to do something different.
The fact that Clinton is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party and can’t seem to remember history as recent as 2015 and the 1980s is alarming. These were major events that she either completely misunderstood or willfully misconstrued, and it’s difficult to figure out which one is worse.
[Video: MSNBC | Photo: Getty]