A recent exchange between Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign co-chair Nina Turner and political pundit Hilary Rosen on CNN offered Black people a telling reminder about the danger of white democrats and the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways in which they uphold white supremacy through their smugness, condescension, and dismissiveness.
The exchange took place on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time after Turner expressed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had warned us about the danger of “white moderates,” such as Joe Biden. In an attempt to correct Turner in her interpretation of King’s words and obviously defend Biden, Rosen said she was wrong.
“Nina referenced Dr. Martin Luther King before, saying that he said from the Birmingham jail that we should be concerned about white moderates. That’s actually not what Martin Luther King said,” Rosen said. “What he said was we should worry about the silence of white moderates. And what we have in Joe Biden is a man who is not silent.”
Turner, in response, doubled down on her comments.
“What Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about, he said it is the point that the white moderate wants things to be comfortable,” Turner replied. “And instead of focusing in on the bigger threat, it’s not necessarily the white KKK member, but more the white moderate that is more comfortable with keeping things the same and pretending like there is no tension.”
At this point, Rosen completely exposes her hand, repeatedly interrupting Turner as she spoke and telling her that she does not “have the standing” to use Dr. King’s words against Biden.
“Don’t use Martin Luther King against Joe Biden,” an indignant Rosen interrupted. “You don’t have that standing.”
“Don’t tell me what kind of standing I have as a Black woman in America. How dare you,” Turner responded.
Rosen continued to interrupt, accusing Turner of using MLK to attack Biden, and things quickly turned into an argument of sorts.
“I didn’t attack anybody. You’re taking it that way,” Turner said. “Don’t dip into what I have to say about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. How dare you, as a white woman, sit up here and try and tell me what I’m supposed to feel and what I’m doing right now.”
What’s particularly problematic about Rosen is that in her attempts to silence Turner and save face for Joe Biden, she was loud and wrong. Dr. King did warn us about the danger of the white moderate in his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail and his admonishment was about much more than their silence.
“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice,” he wrote.
In response to criticism over the clip, Rosen offered several apologies to Turner via Twitter. Sadly, the apologies, some of which have since been deleted, were just as problematic, mentioning “angry black women.”
The more she speaks, the more she exposes herself as one of the problematic white moderates Dr. King warned us about.