Black Lives Matter have been sending people to mess up Bernie Sanders’ rallies. They’ve disrupted two of them so far, as opposed to none of Clinton’s, Webb’s, O’Malley’s or Chafee’s. Not to mention the Republicans. Somehow, they’ve zeroed in on Sanders, the guy who got his political start marching for desegregation back in the 60s. The guy who’s got a perfect rating from the NAACP. The guy they should, logically, be supporting.
I’m going to take the protesters at their word, that they just want to see their issue addressed. It is an important issue. That is, I’m not going to believe the conspiracy theory, that the Clinton campaign put them up to it. It wouldn’t surprise me too much, but there’s no evidence of it, and it would be a hell of a risk to take this early on.
So, what can Sanders do about it? His response so far, while it hasn’t been disastrous, is unsatisfactory. He’s just said ‘Well, sorry, if I can’t speak, we’ll just have to cancel the rally.’
It’s better than pulling a Michael Richards, and shouting insults at the hecklers. It is better than having people physically thrown out. And it is a rare politician who has Obama’s skill at engaging with hecklers and turning the interruption into an element of his performance. Very few comedians are even as good as Obama.
I suppose he could improve security in front of the stage so they can’t actually get up there, and that would be a good start. But hecklers can still disrupt a speech from the audience.
What I think he needs to do is line up some big name black support – either civil rights leaders or entertainment people – and have them by his side. Also, I suppose he needs to engage the issue, but so does every other candidate.