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Scenes from a Meltdown: Watching Clinton answer questions about Black Lives Matter and Muslim Americans in New Hampshire

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Despite her doing the nae nae on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, word around Manchester all week was that Hillary Clinton couldn’t connect with young New Hampshire voters on the whole.

On Saturday, the former Secretary of State made an appearance at New England College for a segment called Come Ask Hillary Anything, likely a reference to the popular Ask Me Anything (AMA) series on Reddit. Taking questions from undergrads and grad students, the candidate made her appeal to the youth.

A young female graduate student asked about #BlackLivesMatter and police misconduct, inquiring about what the candidate planned to do about basic survival issues. Clinton said that she supports the BLM movement, and added, without many specifics, that America needs more police reform. She then pivoted.

“Homicide is the leading cause of death in young African American men.” As in, if we’re talking about police brutality, let’s not ignore “black on black” crime.

The candidate went on to discuss police killings, and to credit gang and civilian killings as her motivation for supporting sweeping gun reform. She also mentioned loopholes that allow shooters like Dylann Roof to acquire weapons for massacres. It was a de-racialized answer to a racially charged issue.

For those hoping for a fleshed-out racial justice platformfor example, one that includes offering incentives for hospitals to open trauma centers in areas of high gun crimeher answer rang hollow.

In another exchange, Hillary mentioned meeting a generic Sanders voter who was enthusiastic about free college for all. The secretary outlined why she opposes socializing higher education, arguing that if government provides free schooling, “you will never get the cost down.” It was all rather unconvincing, given that less than 30 percent of Americans are currently able to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher under the current system.

“There will be no incentive for state governments to lower the cost, to get out of building state prisons as opposed to building colleges again,” she claimed. “If you can afford to pay for your child to go to college, you should pay to go to college.”

Then more routine points. Clinton was asked how she will overcome so-called voter distrust, and worked through the requisite inquiries about her email server. Then came a question by an NEC professor about Muslim Americans, and about what role the president can play in combating ISIS. Her answer, once again, was typical, describing Islam in explicitly foreign terms.

“There’s a struggle going on inside Islam,” Clinton said. “It’s a movement that’s going to be transformational. There’s a lot of concern about Muslim leaders that I have talked with about the best way to approach this … As president I would do whatever I could do to support Islamic leaders, and there’s already been some effort, which I hope can take hold.”

Missing from her answer was any mention of controversial programs like Countering Violent Extremism, and of potential violations of the Fourth Amendment. Nothing about eroded civil liberties either, or about double standards in how the First Amendment is sometimes applied to American Muslims.

Hillary continued to speak about Muslims in non-American terms, mentioning the schism between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Again, left out were acknowledgments of issues like the profiling and entrapment of Muslims in this country. Her answers were reductive, talking about Muslim Americans as tools in the War on Terror without addressing the actual situation of Muslims. Many of whom are new voters, and who are unlikely to vote Republican.

After the event, I met an undecided young man from Londonderry who introduced himself as Ahmed. When he said he’s leaning towards Hillary, I asked him why. 

“I guess I’m of the opinion that although Hillary has her demons, the system is so broken that it’s almost a necessary evil,” he said. “The very reasons I do not like Hillary as a candidate may prove to be what makes her superior to Bernie.”

Hardly a ringing endorsement.

This report was produced by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and is part of their “Manchester Divided” coverage of the madness leading up to the 100th New Hampshire presidential primary.

About Basim Usmani

Basim Usmani is a member of the Muslim punk band the Kominas. His reporting has been featured in Beta Boston, VICE, and The Guardian.

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10 Responses

  1. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    February 10, 2016, 12:48 pm

    I dislike Hillary Clinton because she is a phony. Wasn’t she against gay marriage, well now she’s for it after all the hard work other people did. Every time she answers a question you can almost hear the wheels turning (“Now, what did we find out about this in the last focus group?”) Also I don’t like the idea that the Democratic machine expects me to support her because that’s how THEY want it.

    And the Democratic shills were out in force this morning. Talking about Clinton unmitigated defeat in NH the Democratic shill on TV said that this was not a defeat but an “opportunity” for her to retool her message. The way he made it sound was like she “planned” on losing as a tactic. They really think we’re all idiots.

    I have deep seated issues with Sanders but to see how he’s messing up HRC’s coronation warms my heart.

    • Kris
      February 10, 2016, 1:09 pm

      @a blah chick: “They really think we’re all idiots.”

      Maybe that’s why Hillary doesn’t seem to understand that it is not a good idea to lie about her positions and actions even when there is video footage that proves that she is lying. Either the Clintons don’t understand how easy it is to find information on the internet, or they really do think most Americans are idiots.

  2. MHughes976
    February 10, 2016, 4:11 pm

    All the predictions I read say that Sanders stands very little chance from now on, mainky for two reasons, lack of appeal to non-whites and lack of cash to pay for huge television campaigns,

    • lysias
      February 10, 2016, 4:35 pm

      You can forget about lack of cash being a problem. Washington Post: Bernie Sanders’s fundraising prowess boosts his post-New Hampshire efforts:

      Sen. Bernie Sanders took a few moments in his victory speech Tuesday night to make a small request of his supporters: “Please help us raise the funds we need, whether it’s 10 bucks, 20 bucks, or 50 bucks,” he said.

      The response was so overwhelming that his website buckled under the traffic. Between the close of polls and mid-afternoon Wednesday, his campaign brought in a record $5.2 million.

      Sanders is barreling out of New Hampshire in a position few anticipated when he first entered the 2016 White House contest: financially competitive with Hillary Clinton.

      All precincts now counted in New Hampshire. Sanders got 60.4% of the vote, and Hillary Clinton 38.0%.

    • lysias
      February 10, 2016, 4:53 pm

      “Clinton won the nonwhite vote in New Hampshire by a single percentage point, 50 percent to 49 percent, according to CNN’s exit poll. ”

      • MHughes976
        February 11, 2016, 8:41 am

        Thanks, lysias, very interesting.
        Mind you, I don’t think this is the story of a meltdown – Clinton didn’t become incoherent and she wasn’t chased off the stage with boos. She apparently made conventional, maybe imperceptive , certainly uninspiring remarks and elicited a lukewarm response.

  3. Bumblebye
    February 10, 2016, 7:03 pm

    Wrt #BlackLivesMatter, I wonder how many people are even aware that last year saw the start of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (could that be the reason for the recent unflattering UN reports?):

    All nations governments are supposed to be signed up to programs improving circumstances/situations for their citizens of African descent.

    There’s also (since 2007) been an International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade – March 25:

    neither of which I’d heard of til a few hours ago, and it doesn’t seem many others had either.

    • Marnie
      February 11, 2016, 12:37 am

      Governments are too busy trying to separate the wheat from the chaff WRT all things Palestine/israel. How shameful this is swept under the rug. Never heard this either – thanks Bumblebye.

  4. Krauss
    February 11, 2016, 12:37 am

    The free college comment doesn’t make sense. Germany already guarantees free college to every single one of its citizens and last time I looked Germany had rock-solid state finances, the world’s biggest surplus in trade(even bigger than China in absolute terms despite being much smaller in size, which is amazing).

    Germany even allows non-German citizens to enroll and study for free.

    So every time Hillary is telling us that it can’t be done, someone should just shout: GERMANY.

  5. JLewisDickerson
    February 11, 2016, 7:10 am

    RE: A young female graduate student asked about #BlackLivesMatter and police misconduct, inquiring about what the candidate planned to do about basic survival issues. Clinton said that she supports the BLM movement, and added, without many specifics, that America needs more police reform. She then pivoted. “Homicide is the leading cause of death in young African American men.” As in, if we’re talking about police brutality, let’s not ignore “black on black” crime. ~

    MY COMMENT: Once a triangulator, always a triangulator!*

    * Triangulation (politics)
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    [EXCERPT] Triangulation is the term given to the act of a political candidate presenting their ideology as being above or between the left and right sides (or “wings”) of a traditional (e.g. American or British) democratic political spectrum. It involves adopting for oneself some of the ideas of one’s political opponent. The logic behind it is that it both takes credit for the opponent’s ideas, and insulates the triangulator from attacks on that particular issue.

    The term was first used by President of the United States Bill Clinton’s chief political advisor Dick Morris as a way to describe his strategy for getting Clinton reelected in the 1996 presidential election. In Dick Morris’ words, triangulation meant “the president needed to take a position that not only blended the best of each party’s views but also transcended them to constitute a third force in the debate.”[1] In news articles and books, it is sometimes referred to as “Clintonian triangulation”.[2][3][4] Morris advocated a set of policies that were different from the traditional policies of the Democratic Party. These policies included deregulation and balanced budgets. One of the most widely cited capstones of Clinton’s triangulation strategy was when, in his 1996 State of the Union Address, Clinton declared that the “era of big government is over.”[5] . . .

    SOURCE –

    P.S. Triangulation (politics) VS Triangulation (psychology)

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