On the fourth of July, the New York Times gave its readers a first extended look at the political history of Bernie Sanders in Vermont. The article, by Sarah Lyall, is titled “Bernie Sanders’s Revolutionary Roots Were Nurtured in ’60s Vermont.” This sketch of the young Sanders is free of obvious malice. It would serve its purpose less effectively if it were malicious.
The attitude that Lyall adopts toward Senator Sanders is, instead, mildly and cheerfully disparaging — affectionate, but at the proper distance of condescension; ironically agreeable, as you are allowed to be in dealing with a second cousin or an eccentric uncle who is a bit of a blowhard. Hers is not the first such article to appear on Sanders in the Times. Is it safe to predict that this will remain the paper’s approach to his campaign for as long as he stays in the race?
Though malice is absent, the pejorative shading here begins with the title. Does Sanders today describe himself as a revolutionist? “Revolutionary roots” implies that he does. Sanders indeed calls himself a democratic socialist. But it was a pretty steady difference between socialists and communists, throughout the twentieth century, that socialists would choose not to describe themselves as revolutionists. They were radical reformers and tended to reject the path of violence that revolutionists embrace. “Radical reformist roots” would have made a truer but a less eye-catching headline.
Symptomatic excerpts from the article follow in boldface, with my comments in italics:
[The young Bernie Sanders] came to Vermont in the late 1960s to help plan the upending of the old social order.
Did he in fact come to Vermont with a detailed plan? The word suggests that Sanders was a bit deluded. More likely, he came to Vermont with no plan except to organize and reform: something that people with political convictions have been known to do. The word “upending” is curious. It comes from football: a linebacker who tackles a charging halfback by a grabbing his ankles and tossing him head-over-heels is said to upend him. You can’t do that to something as heterogeneous and extended as American society. The word suggests as much without having to say so. But it is unlikely that he ever used the word “upend”; once again, the relevant missing word and idea is reform.
[A youthful article by Sanders in the Vermont Freeman gave] an apocalyptically alarmist account of the unbearable horror of having an office job in New York City.
The pileup of “apocalyptically alarmist” and “unbearable horror” triggers the sarcasm. You can almost hear the unwritten sequel: “An office job in New York City? Give me a break.” Various personalities of the era – Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel — seem to have shared the sentiments of the young Sanders, but the incredulous adverb and adjectives do their work.
Chalk some of this up to being young and unemployed. Mr. Sanders, now 73, has had a steady, nonrevolutionary job for quite some time now.
It is the usual dig. Resistance and protest come from dissatisfaction and failure; get a decent job and watch how your politics change.
… barely 30, full of restless energy, with wild curly hair, a brash Brooklyn manner and a mind fizzing with plans to remake the world. Short on money but long on ideas…
Human-interest writing may come disguised as biography but it performs that duty imperfectly. The fizzing mind is there because it rhymes with the frizzy hair. “Short on money but long on ideas” is a cliché so lazy that the barb is robbed of its sting.
[Sanders's description of himself as a freelance writer] is a bit of a stretch. A look through his journalistic output, such as it was, reveals that he had perhaps a dozen articles published.
How many articles do you have to publish to qualify as a freelance writer? Two dozen? The pedantry is polemical.
[In a 1972 article by Sanders, the] opening passage, which deals with men’s sexual fantasies, is meant to be satirically provocative but comes across as crassly sexist.
The article was reprinted in Mother Jones, and readers are free to check their impressions against Lyall’s description. It opens with a suggestion that men too often fantasize themselves as rapists and women fantasize being raped: the pleasurable compulsiveness of the fantasies testifies to the sickness sex in American society. However shallow or wrong this speculation, Lyall’s characterization of it as “crassly sexist” is false. The title, “Man — And Woman,” is enough to indicate the perspective.
Men think of women as an afterthought, the young Sanders was saying, and that is our mistake. The article declares that the typical male vice is “pigness” while the typical female vice is “slavishness.” It advises men to stop being pigs and women to stop being slaves. Lyall says that this early article has drawn “unflattering attention,” but her only link online yields a brief Times paragraph which alludes to criticism “bouncing around social media.” In fact, the unflattering attention has mostly come from right-wing corporate and pro-war sites — Town Hall, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart — whose reasons for undermining Sanders are remote from feminism.
“Sexual adjustment seemed to be very poor in those with cancer of the cervix,” [Sanders] wrote, quoting a study in a journal called Psychosomatic Medicine.
“Wrote, quoting”: but if he quoted it, he didn’t write it. This is meant to emphasize again the supposed oddity of Sanders’s sexual attitudes, but it should never have passed editing.
He also made a half-hour film about his hero, Eugene V. Debs, the labor organizer who ran unsuccessfully for president five times.
What a peculiar fellow to have as a hero. The conjunction of “unsuccessfully” and “five times” makes Debs an average union organizer and a serial failure: he couldn’t stop running for president. Not a word about Debs going to prison for his opposition to American involvement in the First World War. Would it be different — and perhaps fairer — to speak of Eugene V. Debs as “the union leader who founded the Social Democratic Party of America”? Of course, that would open up a weakness or two in the story of Sanders’s hopeless eccentricity.
None of this is likely to change as the contest of ideas in the presidential race grows warmer. “What contest,” you may ask. The Republican field has drawn amused regard from the mainstream media for its array of qualified and unqualified candidates — the former seeking ever more assiduously to resemble the latter — with its apparent consensus that climate change is a hoax and that we should have more wars, less immigration, no unions, and work together to facilitate the extinction of public education. The exception is Rand Paul, with his explicit criticism of mass warrantless surveillance and of the Iraq and Libya wars.
The Democrats have been saved from embarrassment by showing little interest in public discussion and only the beginnings of a debate. With the exception of Bernie Sanders: His announcement of his candidacy and his early speeches in Wisconsin and Iowa have shown no slackening in the force of his attacks on Wall Street and the big corporations. His voice today speaks almost alone for a wide dissatisfaction among the electorate with our politics generally, and the popular jealousy of the vested interests that for two decades have dictated policy and set the limits of reform far beyond the area of free trade and the bank interest rates. Public opinion must be controlled, domesticated, shepherded, and the dissatisfactions made somehow laughable. Every amusing and dismissive report on a figure like Sanders or Paul goes to serve that larger purpose.
– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
The Bob & Chez Show Podcast: The Confederate Flag, Crazy New Sarah Palin Audio and Rand Paul Meets Cliven Bundy
Today’s topics include: Dukes of Hazzard Cast Member Defends Confederate Flag on Fox News; All New and Totally Crazy Sarah Palin Audio; Jim Webb is Running for President; Rand Paul Meets with Cliven Bundy; Steve King Wants to Impeach Supreme Court Justices; Rush Limbaugh’s Butthurt Balm; Crazy Christian Facebook Lady is Crazy; and much more.
The Bob & Chez Show is a funny, fast-paced political podcast that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The twice-weekly podcast is hosted by Bob Cesca (Salon.com, The Huffington Post, The Daily Banter, The Stephanie Miller Show), and CNN/MSNBC producer turned writer Chez Pazienza. Follow the show at www.bobcesca.com with special thanks to Michael Kiely.
– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
CANNES — Video will become ubiquitous and will disrupt many aspects of the media landscape, says Dominique Delport, Global Managing Director of Havas Media Group, in this interview with Beet.TV about the future of video advertising.
Consumers are engaging with video on nearly every platform and service across most digital devices, he says. From Vine to Instagram to YouTube to Facebook, they are participating and engaging in video in new ways.
As this video landscape changes, brands need to stay abreast of new technologies. “Brands need to try and to test. It can’t just be putting their copy on TV, but shorter online. They need to be their own publishers,” he said. Content production is important especially as consumption barrels in new directions. As an example, Delport points to South Korea, which isn’t a “mobile first” culture now, but more of a “mobile-only” one with 85% smartphone penetration. Also, in China recently, a documentary about smog pollution was seen millions of times via an app, he says. These underscore the worldwide shifts.
Marketers need to be aware of how quickly habits are changing and how new technologies in mobile and video are driving disruption, he adds.
This video is part of our series about the future of video advertising, produced at Cannes and presented by Teads. The video was recorded on the Teads yacht. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.
You can find this post on Beet.TV.
– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Just weeks after writers and editors at Gawker Media unionized, the editorial employees of Salon Media Group announced that they intend to join the same union, the Writers Guild of America, East.
The decision by Salon employees, announced in a press release by the union Thursday, suggests that Gawker’s high-profile union campaign may indeed have a domino effect in new media, which is generally a union-free world at the moment.
A statement signed by all 26 editorial employees said that “every single” staffer was on board with the decision.
“In the wake of the Gawker staff’s vote to organize with the WGAE, we see an opportunity to help establish standards and practices in Internet journalism,” the employees wrote. “It’s an exciting moment for our field, and we want Salon to be at the forefront of change.” (Read the full letter here.)
Salon has a long history of covering labor issues from the left, and unionizing would be the clearest way for employees to join the U.S. labor movement as a matter of principle. But, like at many new media sites, staffers surely have some basic workplace concerns of their own, and they likely see the potential for more security in a union contract. Organizing, they said in their statement, “will strengthen our mission, our vision and our productivity.”
Despite plenty of disagreement among Gawker staffers about the need for a union, employees there had a relatively smooth path toward unionization, in large part because the company’s owner pledged to remain neutral throughout the process.
It remains to be seen whether Salon ownership will voluntarily recognize the union — a process that avoids a full-blown secret-ballot election, which is often accompanied by an anti-union campaign waged by ownership. But given Salon’s liberal leanings and its sympathetic coverage of the labor movement, it would be borderline scandalous if management at the 20-year-old progressive website actively opposed the organizing effort.
In an email to The Huffington Post, David Daley, Salon’s editor in chief, said, “Salon has, from its very inception, proudly embraced progressive values and a commitment to our workers and to labor. We look forward to discussing this initiative with the editorial staff and learning more about their objectives and goals. After we are able to have an open conversation, we’ll be able to plot a course forward together.”
Although legacy outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post have long been unionized, the campaigns by Gawker and now Salon mark the first headway made by unions in web-only journalism. Gawker’s closely watched and successful campaign left media watchers wondering if other new media companies, like BuzzFeed, Vice and The Huffington Post, might follow suit.
Lowell Peterson, the union’s executive director, said in a statement that Salon’s decision to unionize would help raise standards in the industry.
“We agree that they can make a real difference in their own lives, and in the standards of digital media generally, by negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with their employer,” Peterson said. “Our members share their commitment to crafting thoughtful stories, and understand that joining a union of creative professionals is an essential part of building sustainable careers doing meaningful work.”
This post has been updated with comment from Daley.
For many homeless children nationwide, receiving a top education is simply not an option. Getting to school each morning fails to become a priority when a child is worrying about where they will sleep that night, caring for their loved ones and finding enough food to eat.
One school in San Diego wants to make it easier for homeless and transient students to get an education and improve their lives. The Monarch School is one of the very few schools in the United States that cares for homeless students, letting them arrive early each day and get the help that they need. Monarch’s program allows homeless students to take showers, wash clothes, sleep, eat and seek counseling — all on the school’s campus. About 400 homeless and transient children attend Monarch each year, Dean Calbreath writes in The Rotarian, the official magazine of Rotary International.
The school functions with the help of a non-profit known as “The Monarch School Program,” which has raised millions of dollars to fund new school facilities, health care, provide food and pay social service workers. And students are responding beyond expectations: the school’s attendance rate is an average of approximately 93 percent, school performance is improving and grade averages are jumping from Ds to Bs.
The What’s Working Honor Roll highlights some of the best reporting and analysis, from a range of media outlets, on all the ways people are working toward solutions to some of our greatest challenges. If you know a story you think should be on our Honor Roll, please send an email to our editor Catherine Taibi via email@example.com with the subject line “WHAT’S WORKING.”
Bill O’Reilly was really steamed.
What got the churlish O’Reilly mad were post-church-shooting statements by South Carolina Rep. Todd Rutherford that Fox News was regularly dispensing the kind of hate speech that led to the church shooting. Rutherford’s comments deserved a lot more attention.
A whole lot more. Only the crying need for gun control has been more egregiously overlooked
since the Charleston tragedy.
Let us speak plainly here. Fox has been providing a megaphone for hatemongers for years.
It’s made it OK to hold crackpot, hateful ideas.
Simply put, Fox dispenses poison, day after day.
Not because it’s conservative is there a problem.
Having grown up in a military family that was solid Republican, I know about conservatives.
For years, I was one of them.
But traditional, rational conservative views are not what Fox airs.
It’s poison, pure poison. I’ve been saying this in my TV columns for years now.
Poisonous people like Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter should be in a psychiatrist’s office,
not on a television network.
Fox boss (“czar”) Roger Ailes, who has a face like a clenched fist, is the Poisoner in Chief.
A few years ago, when I wrote a HuffPost piece calling Ailes and his creation a “cancer on
our body politic,” he took offense and attacked Arianna about it on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday
But it’s every bit as true today.
So I’d like to see at least some of the deserved attention being given banning the racist
Confederate flag and calling out its supporters being directed at Fox News, an enabler of
right-wing crackpots and hatemongers.
Let’s put the odious Fox News on the defensive for a change.
Sure, to Jon Stewart, Larry Wilmore and others, Fox News’ absurd programming is a comedy goldmine.
I wish no one took Fox seriously, but many drooling idiots and bigots do.
So, let’s stop laughing at Fox and start attacking it, as Rep. Rutherford did.
It’s long past time to put the odious cable channel on the defensive for a change.
It’s done a lot more damage to the country, one could argue, than the Confederate flag.
In the wake of a tragedy, a news station responded with a message of love.
Oklahoma’s KOCO News helped staff the newsroom of its rival station, KFOR, so more people on the KFOR team could attend last Friday’s funeral of a local sportscaster, Tulsa World reported.
Bob Barry Jr., KFOR’s main sports anchor, died in a scooter accident on June 20, according to The Washington Post. A University of Oklahoma alumnus, Barry was a beloved figure on the news station, serving as the sports director after his father, Bob Barry Sr., the station’s sports director and main anchor for over 40 years, died in 2011.
When Barry Jr. unexpectedly died, the news community rallied to support its colleagues. On June 21, KFOR anchor Lauren Cavanaugh tweeted that KOCO’s general manager offered to staff the newsroom so that Barry’s coworkers could attend the service.
— Linda Cavanaugh (@linda4news) June 21, 2015
According to the Oklahoma Daily, other news stations also stepped up and offered to help KFOR during their time of grieving.
“I’ve heard from all the news directors in Oklahoma City who all, independent of each other, reached out upon hearing the news of Bob’s death,” Carlton Houston, KFOR news director, told the news outlet on Thursday. “We absolutely have taken them up on their offers to assist us tomorrow.”
These efforts helped numerous KFOR employees attend the memorial service for their colleague, with the assurance their 24-hour newsroom was covered.
By Mark Green
This was the week when lame duck Obama became a political lion. Lowry and Reagan debate its impact on the country and ’16. Can Rich find a pony in there somewhere? Key question: will GOP prospects promise new Justices to reverse ACA and gay marriage thereby keeping it a rallying issue for Democrats? (Fish gotta swim…)
*Aftermath of Charleston Massacre. Ron Reagan (My Father at 100) asserts that the Confederate flag should never have flown originally on public property in the ’20s because of the KKK or in the ’60s because of Jim Crow. Lincoln scholar Rich Lowry (National Review) agrees that it should now come down because it’s unarguably associated with a war based on the Confederate South wanting to retain slavery. But he adds that it’s odious to compare it to a Swastika and to imply that all who buy flag are potential Dylan Roofs — Roof being more a racist loner than someone inspired by his environment. He also reminds us that it was Lincoln who first showed empathy and charity to Southern soldiers and people. We should too.
Ron disagrees. If numerically Nazis were worse, both Holocaust and Slavery have much in common since both monstrously dehumanized millions. And the links are strong between racism and the GOP recently and historically — look at Nixon’s Southern Strategy.
Rich strongly pushes back, noting that the original “Southern Strategy” came from Ike who wanted to win some Southern States based on GOP principles — and did when his party did well in wealthier suburban counties due less to race than economics. Ron strongly disagrees, noting how GOP avatar Lee Atwater explained that since his party “can’t run around saying N*****, N*****, N*****, we talk about States Rights” as code.
The Host interrupts to note that more recently than Ike or Nixon was Gov. Reagan who announced his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, known only as the place where Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman were killed in 1963 — and he included “States Rights” in his announcement. Lowry asks if the Host is saying Reagan was a “racist.” No, only noting the fact and symbol of his announcement. Ron Reagan agrees that it was “wrong” of his father to start his campaign there, implying that it was the likely result of cunning aides.
What about the underlying substance behind the symbol — racism? As Obama said on Marc Maron’s podcast, the country is far better off since 1865 and 1965 but racism is “in our DNA”. Ron explains that many people around world are racist because of their innate fear of people who look different. And there are policies that Democrats can push — for judicial and education reform plus social programs alleviating poverty — that can help reduce the pathology of racism.
Is it unfair for Democrats to link the GOP and Council of Conservative Citizens donations and and will it help them stir the Democratic base? “Yes and Yes,” says Rich. “They’ll wave this bloody shirt.” And they’ll accurately note, adds Ron, that white supremacists and anti-government terrorists take twice as many lives in the U. S. as ‘Islamic Terrorists’.
*Supreme Court and Obamacare. The presidency is up for grabs in 2016 but there’s now been a decisive ruling on the ACA — by 6-3, including a chief justice who advised Bush in his Florida recount, the Supreme Court ruled that the law does allow subsidies to all who join exchanges, whether state or federal. We listen to Sen. Ted Cruz, a constitutional lawyer himself, call the decision “lawless.”
Lowry disagrees with majority for “saving Congress from the bad law it wrote, which is not their job.” Reagan scoffs, saying that you don’t deny millions health insurance because of a drafting error taken out of context.
Did The Court follow the “illiction returns” and not want to create chaos in the health insurance market? Both agree that likely played a role in the CJ Roberts opinion. He cared more about “the New York Times and elite law school opinion,” concludes Lowry, when he should have applied Scalia’s test of just looking at the words of Congress, not its intent.
Host: In fact, the standard conservative approach to determine a law’s constitutionality is to defer to the legislature and look at the language in the context of the whole law, as Roberts wrote quoting Scalia. (Here, Rich graciously acknowledges that two weeks your humble Host predicted this 6-3 result because Roberts would engage in just such reasoning.)
I used to debate Antonin Scalia in the 1970s on issues of federalism before bar panels and don’t recognize this angry, nasty man. Reading his dissents replete with “jiggery pokery… applesauce… nearest hippie… judicial putsch,” I believe that “Justice” Scalia has reached the WTF period of his long court tenure. He is giving fresh meaning to ‘going down in flames’, to being a living argument for judicial term limits, and in raising the prospect that he’ll soon just publish emoticons as dissents to save time.
*Supreme Court and Marriage Equality. We all agree that public opinion has radically shifted in the past 15 years as more people came out and, says Rich, “they saw that their neighbors, family members and friends were gay.” But he again disagrees with the decision because it shouldn’t have forced the final 13 anti-marriage states to go along by judicial decree when the option of legislation was available.
“What about Loving v. Virginia,” asks Ron, should it have not thrown all anti-miscegenation laws? Yes, Rich answers, because those laws were rooted in racial hatred and didn’t fundamentally alter the concept of marriage. Also, the Court now risks the kind of blowback that obviously occurred after Roe v. Wade in 1973 “when conservatives were told to suck it up and go along… and they didn’t.” Ron responds that that unlike Roe, when conservatives could keep arguing about “dead babies,” here there will be no arguable harm, other than the psychological damage of not being able to say your own marriage is no longer sacrosanct.
Red Holtzman of Knicks was once asked why Knicks lost five straight yet then won five in a row, and he said, “how the hell would I know?” Rich is asked if his team’s defensiveness over losses on Indiana religious liberty, Confederate Flag, ACA, Marriage Equality, Pope-Climate is just an unlucky streak or a sign of a big problem. He jauntily says that it’s at times like these “why the National Review is needed more than ever.”
Host: He has a point — Katrina vanden Heuvel would say same thing about The Nation under President Reagan. But there is an alternate analysis: in each of these defeats, the Hard Right over-reached and democracy struck back and said ‘no-way.’
Will the GOP use these defeats to pivot in 2016 away from divisive losing issues, as Jonathan Martin asked in Sunday front page New York Times piece? Unlikely. Not with zero GOP presidential aspirants agreeig with the gay marriage ruling and with nearly all threatening tactics from appointing new justices to reverse the two decisions this week to electing the Supreme Court. The fever has not broken, apparently...
Mark Green is the creator and host of Both Sides Now.
You can follow him on Twitter @markjgreen
Send all comments to Bothsidesradio.com, where you can also listen to prior shows.
Both Sides Now is available Sat. 5-6 PM EST From Lifestyle TalkRadio Network & Sun. 8-9 AM EST from Business RadioTalk Network.
They got one thing right — that’s definitely not Arabic.
CNN devoted a segment to a purported ISIS flag that was spotted by correspondent Lucy Pawle in London during the city’s gay pride celebrations Saturday.
“If you look at the flag closely, it’s clearly not Arabic,” Pawle said. “In fact, it looks like it could be gobbledegook. But it’s very distinctively the ISIS flag.”
That “gobbledegook” appears to be a an assortment of butt plugs, dildos and other sex toys arranged to look like the ISIS flag. Pawle went on to cast suspicion on a man dressed in black at the festivities, who she said was displaying the flag.
“I seem to be the only person who has spotted this, and nobody seems to be raising any questions or pointing it out,” she said.
ISIS has reportedly murdered gay men by dropping them off buildings.
CNN removed video of the segment from its website Saturday afternoon.
President Barack Obama gave an impassioned eulogy at the funeral for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney on Friday, discussing racism and the Confederate flag and leading the crowd in a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Obama said it wouldn’t be fair to Pinckney’s legacy “to go back to business as usual” after the funerals for the nine victims of a shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, have concluded.
Read a transcript of Obama’s remarks below:
Giving all praise and honor to God. (Applause.)
The Bible calls us to hope. To persevere, and have faith in things not seen.
“They were still living by faith when they died,” Scripture tells us. “They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on Earth.”
We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith. A man who believed in things not seen. A man who believed there were better days ahead, off in the distance. A man of service who persevered, knowing full well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed.
To Jennifer, his beloved wife; to Eliana and Malana, his beautiful, wonderful daughters; to the Mother Emanuel family and the people of Charleston, the people of South Carolina.
I cannot claim to have the good fortune to know Reverend Pinckney well. But I did have the pleasure of knowing him and meeting him here in South Carolina, back when we were both a little bit younger. (Laughter.) Back when I didn’t have visible grey hair. (Laughter.) The first thing I noticed was his graciousness, his smile, his reassuring baritone, his deceptive sense of humor — all qualities that helped him wear so effortlessly a heavy burden of expectation.
Friends of his remarked this week that when Clementa Pinckney entered a room, it was like the future arrived; that even from a young age, folks knew he was special. Anointed. He was the progeny of a long line of the faithful — a family of preachers who spread God’s word, a family of protesters who sowed change to expand voting rights and desegregate the South. Clem heard their instruction, and he did not forsake their teaching.
He was in the pulpit by 13, pastor by 18, public servant by 23. He did not exhibit any of the cockiness of youth, nor youth’s insecurities; instead, he set an example worthy of his position, wise beyond his years, in his speech, in his conduct, in his love, faith, and purity.
As a senator, he represented a sprawling swath of the Lowcountry, a place that has long been one of the most neglected in America. A place still wracked by poverty and inadequate schools; a place where children can still go hungry and the sick can go without treatment. A place that needed somebody like Clem. (Applause.)
His position in the minority party meant the odds of winning more resources for his constituents were often long. His calls for greater equity were too often unheeded, the votes he cast were sometimes lonely. But he never gave up. He stayed true to his convictions. He would not grow discouraged. After a full day at the capitol, he’d climb into his car and head to the church to draw sustenance from his family, from his ministry, from the community that loved and needed him. There he would fortify his faith, and imagine what might be.
Reverend Pinckney embodied a politics that was neither mean, nor small. He conducted himself quietly, and kindly, and diligently. He encouraged progress not by pushing his ideas alone, but by seeking out your ideas, partnering with you to make things happen. He was full of empathy and fellow feeling, able to walk in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes. No wonder one of his senate colleagues remembered Senator Pinckney as “the most gentle of the 46 of us — the best of the 46 of us.”
Clem was often asked why he chose to be a pastor and a public servant. But the person who asked probably didn’t know the history of the AME church. (Applause.) As our brothers and sisters in the AME church know, we don’t make those distinctions. “Our calling,” Clem once said, “is not just within the walls of the congregation, but…the life and community in which our congregation resides.” (Applause.)
He embodied the idea that our Christian faith demands deeds and not just words; that the “sweet hour of prayer” actually lasts the whole week long — (applause) — that to put our faith in action is more than individual salvation, it’s about our collective salvation; that to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless is not just a call for isolated charity but the imperative of a just society.
What a good man. Sometimes I think that’s the best thing to hope for when you’re eulogized — after all the words and recitations and resumes are read, to just say someone was a good man. (Applause.)
You don’t have to be of high station to be a good man. Preacher by 13. Pastor by 18. Public servant by 23. What a life Clementa Pinckney lived. What an example he set. What a model for his faith. And then to lose him at 41 — slain in his sanctuary with eight wonderful members of his flock, each at different stages in life but bound together by a common commitment to God.
Cynthia Hurd. Susie Jackson. Ethel Lance. DePayne Middleton-Doctor. Tywanza Sanders. Daniel L. Simmons. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Myra Thompson. Good people. Decent people. God-fearing people. (Applause.) People so full of life and so full of kindness. People who ran the race, who persevered. People of great faith.
To the families of the fallen, the nation shares in your grief. Our pain cuts that much deeper because it happened in a church. The church is and always has been the center of African-American life — (applause) — a place to call our own in a too often hostile world, a sanctuary from so many hardships.
Over the course of centuries, black churches served as “hush harbors” where slaves could worship in safety; praise houses where their free descendants could gather and shout hallelujah — (applause) — rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad; bunkers for the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. They have been, and continue to be, community centers where we organize for jobs and justice; places of scholarship and network; places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harm’s way, and told that they are beautiful and smart — (applause) — and taught that they matter. (Applause.) That’s what happens in church.
That’s what the black church means. Our beating heart. The place where our dignity as a people is inviolate. When there’s no better example of this tradition than Mother Emanuel — (applause) — a church built by blacks seeking liberty, burned to the ground because its founder sought to end slavery, only to rise up again, a Phoenix from these ashes. (Applause.)
When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, services happened here anyway, in defiance of unjust laws. When there was a righteous movement to dismantle Jim Crow, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached from its pulpit, and marches began from its steps. A sacred place, this church. Not just for blacks, not just for Christians, but for every American who cares about the steady expansion — (applause) — of human rights and human dignity in this country; a foundation stone for liberty and justice for all. That’s what the church meant. (Applause.)
We do not know whether the killer of Reverend Pinckney and eight others knew all of this history. But he surely sensed the meaning of his violent act. It was an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress. (Applause.) An act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination; violence and suspicion. An act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s original sin.
Oh, but God works in mysterious ways. (Applause.) God has different ideas. (Applause.)
He didn’t know he was being used by God. (Applause.) Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group — the light of love that shone as they opened the church doors and invited a stranger to join in their prayer circle. The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court — in the midst of unspeakable grief, with words of forgiveness. He couldn’t imagine that. (Applause.)
The alleged killer could not imagine how the city of Charleston, under the good and wise leadership of Mayor Riley — (applause) — how the state of South Carolina, how the United States of America would respond — not merely with revulsion at his evil act, but with big-hearted generosity and, more importantly, with a thoughtful introspection and self-examination that we so rarely see in public life.
Blinded by hatred, he failed to comprehend what Reverend Pinckney so well understood — the power of God’s grace. (Applause.)
This whole week, I’ve been reflecting on this idea of grace. (Applause.) The grace of the families who lost loved ones. The grace that Reverend Pinckney would preach about in his sermons. The grace described in one of my favorite hymnals — the one we all know: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. (Applause.) I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see. (Applause.)
According to the Christian tradition, grace is not earned. Grace is not merited. It’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God — (applause) — as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Grace.
As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind. (Applause.) He has given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves. (Applause.) We may not have earned it, this grace, with our rancor and complacency, and short-sightedness and fear of each other — but we got it all the same. He gave it to us anyway. He’s once more given us grace. But it is up to us now to make the most of it, to receive it with gratitude, and to prove ourselves worthy of this gift.
For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens. (Applause.) It’s true, a flag did not cause these murders. But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge — including Governor Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise — (applause) — as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride. (Applause.) For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation. We see that now.
Removing the flag from this state’s capitol would not be an act of political correctness; it would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be an acknowledgment that the cause for which they fought — the cause of slavery — was wrong — (applause) — the imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong. (Applause.) It would be one step in an honest accounting of America’s history; a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds. It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better, because of the work of so many people of goodwill, people of all races striving to form a more perfect union. By taking down that flag, we express God’s grace. (Applause.)
But I don’t think God wants us to stop there. (Applause.) For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty, or attend dilapidated schools, or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career. (Applause.)
Perhaps it causes us to examine what we’re doing to cause some of our children to hate. (Applause.) Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal justice system — (applause) — and leads us to make sure that that system is not infected with bias; that we embrace changes in how we train and equip our police so that the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve make us all safer and more secure. (Applause.)
Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it, so that we’re guarding against not just racial slurs, but we’re also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal. (Applause.) So that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote. (Applause.) By recognizing our common humanity by treating every child as important, regardless of the color of their skin or the station into which they were born, and to do what’s necessary to make opportunity real for every American — by doing that, we express God’s grace. (Applause.)
For too long –
AUDIENCE: For too long!
THE PRESIDENT: For too long, we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation. (Applause.) Sporadically, our eyes are open: When eight of our brothers and sisters are cut down in a church basement, 12 in a movie theater, 26 in an elementary school. But I hope we also see the 30 precious lives cut short by gun violence in this country every single day; the countless more whose lives are forever changed — the survivors crippled, the children traumatized and fearful every day as they walk to school, the husband who will never feel his wife’s warm touch, the entire communities whose grief overflows every time they have to watch what happened to them happen to some other place.
The vast majority of Americans — the majority of gun owners — want to do something about this. We see that now. (Applause.) And I’m convinced that by acknowledging the pain and loss of others, even as we respect the traditions and ways of life that make up this beloved country — by making the moral choice to change, we express God’s grace. (Applause.)
We don’t earn grace. We’re all sinners. We don’t deserve it. (Applause.) But God gives it to us anyway. (Applause.) And we choose how to receive it. It’s our decision how to honor it.
None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight. Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race. We talk a lot about race. There’s no shortcut. And we don’t need more talk. (Applause.) None of us should believe that a handful of gun safety measures will prevent every tragedy. It will not. People of goodwill will continue to debate the merits of various policies, as our democracy requires — this is a big, raucous place, America is. And there are good people on both sides of these debates. Whatever solutions we find will necessarily be incomplete.
But it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. (Applause.) Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual — that’s what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society. (Applause.) To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change — that’s how we lose our way again.
It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by those families if we merely slipped into old habits, whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practiced cynicism.
Reverend Pinckney once said, “Across the South, we have a deep appreciation of history — we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.” (Applause.) What is true in the South is true for America. Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other. That my liberty depends on you being free, too. (Applause.) That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice, or a shield against progress, but must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past — how to break the cycle. A roadway toward a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind — but, more importantly, an open heart.
That’s what I’ve felt this week — an open heart. That, more than any particular policy or analysis, is what’s called upon right now, I think — what a friend of mine, the writer Marilyn Robinson, calls “that reservoir of goodness, beyond, and of another kind, that we are able to do each other in the ordinary cause of things.”
That reservoir of goodness. If we can find that grace, anything is possible. (Applause.) If we can tap that grace, everything can change. (Applause.)
Amazing grace. Amazing grace.
(Begins to sing) — Amazing grace — (applause) — how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see. (Applause.)
Clementa Pinckney found that grace.
Cynthia Hurd found that grace.
Susie Jackson found that grace.
Ethel Lance found that grace.
DePayne Middleton-Doctor found that grace.
Tywanza Sanders found that grace.
Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. found that grace.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace.
Myra Thompson found that grace.
Through the example of their lives, they’ve now passed it on to us. May we find ourselves worthy of that precious and extraordinary gift, as long as our lives endure. May grace now lead them home. May God continue to shed His grace on the United States of America. (Applause.)