Posted August 17, 2017 | by Tom Barksdale | in Civil Rights, Georgia, Minorities, The Democratic Brand
GA Gubernatorial Candidate Abrams Assaults Democratic Process
Protesters disrupt a speech by Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans during Netroots Nation 2017 in Atlanta on Saturday. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post)
Stacey Abrams, candidate for Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and her followers last Saturday dealt a body blow to the democratic process—and common civility.
The travesty happened at a gathering in Atlanta sponsored by Netroots Nation to foster cooperation among progressive groups. The target was Georgia State Representative Stacey Evans, Abrams’ opponent for the Democratic nomination. When Evans took the stage to deliver her address, demonstrators formed an arc in front of her and began chanting “support black women.” Evans is white, Abrams is black.
Evans’ plea to be heard went unheeded by the hooligans, and she was forced to leave the stage without being able to make her address.
The demonstrators did not specifically identify themselves as Abrams’ supporters, and in a subsequent post on Facebook, she said they were unaffiliated with her campaign.
But it was Abrams’ Facebook post on Saturday in the immediate aftermath of Evans’ mistreatment that has evoked widespread criticism and rebuke, a sentiment IndieDems shares:
“My parents were civil rights protestors, and taught me to lead peaceful demonstrations against apartheid, the Confederate flag, and in support of the LGBTQ* community. I will not condemn peaceful protest. From what I observed from Savannah, activists in Atlanta peacefully protested this morning on the critical issue of preserving public education for every family in our state. The mantra of “trust black women” is an historic endorsement of the value of bringing marginalized voices to the forefront, not a rebuke to my opponent’s race. My record on public education and commitment to opposing privatization stands in stark contrast to all my opponents — Democrat or Republican. This issue is of vital concern to every progressive who believes in public education as a path to prosperity.”
I state without qualification that this statement puts Stacey Abrams in the same category as Donald Trump and other right-wing fanatics in its use of twisted language and distorted reasoning in an effort to make something bad sound good. Abrams’ labeling heckling to keep someone from being heard as “peaceful protest” is pure balderdash.
Abrams’s saying the activists were protesting on the issue of education also misrepresented the nature of the attacks. According to eyewitnesses, most of the signs and chants were not about education, but race (see below).
The issue is not what the protestors were shouting. The issue is freedom of speech, civility, and common courtesy. Speakers at political events should be afforded the right to speak, period. People who believe their position is so righteous that they have a right to drown out opponents are displaying a gross misunderstanding of the democratic process. Not to mention gross rudeness. Disruptions of speeches is a tactic right out of the fascist playbook–and right-wing extremists of all stripes.
Stacey Abrams’ words are a disgrace. I never would have believed that a Democratic leader could utter such despicable remarks. Her self-righteousness equals that of Donald Trump declaring equivalency between the hate groups in Charlottesville and their opponents. What a total disaster awaits Georgia Democrats if Abrams gains the nomination for governor.
Comment in the AJC
By Kyle Wingfield, blog.myajc.com
August 14th, 2017
(Excerpt) “…The left already, and increasingly, applies this kind of “logic” — that only certain types of people can speak truth, or even deserve to be heard — to conservatives… That this “logic” is now being turned on other progressivists (sic) is not satisfyingly ironic. It’s a disturbing sign of how deeply this strain of political virus runs on the left. This is not a mere tactic; it’s an ideology unto itself. And the spread of it within Democrats’ ranks, as opposed to being used only against Republicans, may be less a sign of opportunism than of even more fanatical belief in it. That doesn’t simply disappear after a primary. On the contrary — especially if, as is expected at this point, Abrams wins the nomination.”