Clinton: (reading sign) We have to bring them to heel.
Williams: We hope you apologize for mass incarceration.
Clinton: Okay, we’ll talk about it.
Williams: I’m not a Superpredator, Hillary Clinton.
Clinton: Okay, we’ll talk about it.
Williams: Will you apologize to black people for mass incarceration?
Clinton: Can I talk? And maybe you can listen to what I say.
(someone in crowd hisses)
Williams: You called black people “Superpredators.”
Crowd: That’s not appropriate. You’re being rude.
Williams: You called black people “Superpredators,” that’s rude.
Clinton: Okay, you want to hear the facts, or you want to just talk?
Williams: I know that you called black youth “Superpredators” in 1994. Please explain for the record. Please explain it to us. You owe black people an apology.
Perplexingly, many bloggers have rushed to call Williams "courageous" for this.
For me, it's more like, Okay, good for you for having $500 to donate to the Hillary campaign...
But did you actually want Hillary to answer your question? Or did you just want to say, "You called black people superpredators" over and over, without providing any context or letting her answer?
As I wrote in "Activism Responsibilities" Cause Students at Brown to Fail Classes and Have Panic Attacks, it takes a lot more courage to ask an intelligent question and then LISTEN to the answer, knowing that you could be wrong or you could be shut down by someone who's a lot smarter than you... than it does to shout at someone.
In this particular case, continuously interrupting Hillary was probably a winning strategy, since Williams' claim was inaccurate and irrelevant.
1) Hillary has already said, many times, that she regrets the crime bill.
2) Hillary never voted for the bill.
3) The "superpredator" comment was from 1996, and was taken way out of context. It was the fourth thing on a long list of other ideas related to community policing.
4) The term "superpredators" didn't have racial connotations at the time she said it.
5) She referenced it once, twenty years ago.
Hence, interrupting Clinton and not letting her answer the question was probably the winning strategy.
Now, before you throw a hissy fit about policing peoples' tone or whatever... keep in mind that this is the EXACT same opinion I've expressed regarding websites like Everyday Feminism and "scientists" like Nassim Nicholas Taleb when they make far-out claims, and then block everyone on the whole internet who disagrees with them:
Everyday Feminism. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. And people/publications like you. You have a responsibility. I'm all for banning bullies and spammers from commenting on your social media. But it's cowardly to block everyone who disagrees with you JUST because they disagree with you.
Maybe instead of doing that... you should only post articles that you can support with data. Or, at the very least, agree to disagree. Stand up for what you believe in -- and encourage your readers to do the same! Just please, stop fostering narrow-mindedness and victimhood culture.
You knows -- you might actually learn something.
Rather than run around an auditorium shouting, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” and then seeking support from assistant dean Ashley Ferranti when you become "upset by the evening’s events"...
Maybe you could learn something from a man who nearly died in a forced labor camp on fabricated charges. Maybe you could learn something from a man who spent almost five years in solitary confinement -- and who only managed to stay sane by playing chess against himself in his mind. Maybe you could learn something from a guy who spent 400 days locked in a solitary punishment cell, with barely any food and clothes so thin that in the winter it literally amounted to torture.
And don't even get me started on what you could have learned about fighting oppression.
By boycotting that talk and throwing a hissy fit instead, you've denied yourself a great opportunity.
You've missed your chance to ask a Zionist who has spent his life fighting for human rights about his views on Palestinian rights. (Don't worry -- if you really want to, you can check out one of Sharansky's many books. I've been listening to The Case For Democracy: The Power Of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny And Terror on audible, and it is insanely interesting.)
Asking questions is only courageous if you are willing to listen to the answer.
So before you rush to criticize Senate Republicans for wanting to block any Supreme Court nominees until Obama is out of office (or whatever other government ridiculousness that's happening right now)... maybe you should work on being the change you want to see.
Edit 1: It seems a lot of people are upset that Williams was escorted out of the event, because she'd paid $500 to be there. SO DID EVERYONE ELSE AT THAT PARTY, though. And they didn't pay $500 to hear some random girl speak. They paid to hear Clinton speak. Now, it's very clear from watching the video that Hillary was perfectly happy to address the issues Williams wanted to talk about. It's clear that if Williams didn't just shout "you called black people superpredators" over and over," Hillary would have answered the question. Watch the video again, if you don't believe me!
Edit 2: People are also disappointed that the crowd hissed and told Williams she was "inappropriate" and "being rude." Guess what? They're allowed to feel that way! A friend from high school suggested that Hillary could have responded differently, and I agree. I think saying, "It's okay -- I'm happy to listen to the question. That's why I'm here!" it could have changed the tone of the conversation. But I also think respect needs to go both ways. Clinton offered to share her platform with Williams, but Williams was too busy making accusations to take advantage of the opportunity.
Instead of demanding apologies and making accusations, here's what *I* would have said:
"In 1994, you did X, and in 1996 you said Y, and the effect was Z. What do you wish you'd done differently -- and what will you do differently as president?"
I think the crowd would have been interested in hearing Hillary's answer and watching her go off-script.