Max Boot Wants Biden To Go Sister Souljah On Randomly Selected Woman, For Democracy
Last summer, Never Trump conservatives repeatedly insisted that Joe Biden needed a “Sister Souljah moment" to prove that he opposes riots and looting. Bill Clinton had publicly criticized the rapper Sister Souljah, a real person named Lisa Williamson, while addressing Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition in 1992. The Clinton's campaign's slogan was “It's the economy, stupid," but way too many white pundits seem to think the slogan was actually “It's the race baiting, stupid."
Biden's approval ratings are low, so we're hearing the “Sister Souljah" drumbeat again. White voters apparently love when politicians beat up on Black women, especially those who make uncomfortable, if true, statements about race. It worked in Virginia with Toni Morrison.
Here's the headline from Max Boot's Washington Post column Wednesday:
Those are big stakes! Let's remember, though, that Black women defended democracy like gangbusters in 2020. Despite the GOP's many voter suppression bills, they'll probably still show up in force in 2022 and 2024. If there's a democracy-ending red wave in the next couple elections, white voters will have chosen for us to drown in fascism. Democrats lost Virginia because large numbers of white women flipped from Biden to Glenn Youngkin.
Yet, when suggesting how we might save democracy, Boot invokes the ceremonial repudiation of a Black woman, as if it were an army of Sister Souljahs who stormed the Capitol on January 6. Republicans should have Jenna Ryan moments instead.
BOOT: Biden needs a "Sister Souljah moment": He needs to attack the far-left activists who want to defund the police, boycott Israel and divide Americans by race. He could start by criticizing what liberal columnist Jonathan Chait describes as the "kooky, harmful, and outright racist ideas" peddled by "White Fragility" author Robin DiAngelo. Biden should champion liberalism, not leftism.
As President Andrew Shepherd said, "We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them." The president of the United States attacking an author most Americans have never heard of wouldn't solve anyone's actual problems. A harsh Goodreads review isn't going to lower gas prices.
White Fragility author Robin DiAngelo is white and her book is no more “kooky, harmful, and outright racist" than JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. It's impossible to keep up with conservatives' bad-faith positions: They were bemoaning cancel culture a few months ago and now Boot believes democracy might hinge on publicly denouncing a woman author who dared exercise her First Amendment rights. Meanwhile, “60 Minutes" had a glowing interview with Bell Curve booster Andrew Sullivan.
Nicolle Wallace, a former Republican who's almost respectable, shredded this “whataboutism" while vivisecting Chris Christie on her show the other day. White supremacists pose the greatest domestic terror threat to the nation. They're the ones with the sticks and stones that will break bones. However, Robin DiAngelo's words will never literally hurt anyone. It's as if Boot and Jonathan Chait want to prove the premise behind the title White Fragility.
Biden doesn't personally support defunding the police or share most far-left activist positions. Sure, he could start every morning yelling at Rep. Cori Bush, but here's the thing: Republicans have done quite well simply ignoring their extremist members. Glenn Youngkin didn't have a Marjorie Taylor Greene or a Lauren Boebert moment during the Virginia governor's race. He didn't even have a Proud Boys moment. He was still able to pass himself off as a moderate without a ritual sacrifice.
It's just objectively bad politics to demonize your own base. Republicans understand this and pay no penalty when they refuse to take the bait. Voters like politicians who are loyal, not glorified high school mean kids who offer up their “friends" whenever they're inconvenient.
There's also no compelling evidence that the "Sister Souljah moment" is why Clinton defeated President George HW Bush. The more likely reason is that the economy had stalled and Bush had reacted to a cash register like an unfrozen caveman. Now, Barack Obama's March 2008 speech about race, “A More Perfect Union," is explicitly considered to have saved his campaign. Boot and other conservatives rarely demand a “Barack Obama moment," but Obama expressed humility in his speech while Clinton simply exerted white male dominance over a far-less-powerful Black woman. It's not a shock which is more appealing.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."