Hillary Clinton's Response To One Woman's Question Raises Questions About Her Feminist Cred
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won Super Tuesday by a large margin, but that doesn't mean she kept her cool. Early that morning, while visiting a Minnesota coffee shop, Clinton heatedly reacted to a young woman's question regarding her "super predator" comment from the '90s. Certainly, Clinton is tired of facing this past remark — which some would argue has been taken out of context — but it doesn't make her demeaning response and accusatory attitude acceptable. Her failure to respond calmly and respectfully may cause Americans to second-guess her ability to effectively face anything but sunshine and smiling faces in the White House. Leaders make decisions for a diverse group of people; a president simply can't afford to have a "my way or the highway" tone.
For a politician, facing dissenting opinions and tough questions in a calm, collected, and respectful manner is absolutely vital to creating a presidential aura that's balanced and understanding. Though the description of America as a "melting pot" has become cliched, many people still seem to forget the core meaning of that metaphor. In its most basic sense, the melting pot refers to the mixture of races, cultures, and ethnicities that make up our heterogeneous nation. It also refers to the mixture of conflicting opinions that make our democracy a reality. If everyone agreed all of the time, things would be pretty boring.
According to the Minneapolis City Pages, the Somali-American woman's name is Stacey Rosana. As a woman of color and a dissenter, Rosana represents the "melting pot" in both senses. Her question referred to a statement from a 1996 speech Clinton made on gang-related crime and criminal justice policy:
They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.
If you Google the comment, it's difficult to find a contextualized video clip of the entire speech in question. Thus, people immediately inferred that Clinton was directly referencing the black community when she used the arguably insensitive term "super predators." On Tuesday morning, Rosana stood in line to meet Clinton and quietly asked the candidate whether she has changed her way of thinking since making the controversial statement:
Somalis are being stigmatized or criminalized [and] didn’t have the chance to get acquainted with being an American. So I wanted to ask you, do you support this? Have you changed?
Rosana's inquiry was particularly relevant because Minnesota has a large Somali-American population that's allegedly being targeted by ISIS recruiters and unfairly stereotyped as a result. Clinton defended herself by telling the woman to look at her history of supporting minorities. When Rosana said that she wasn't convinced, Clinton referenced her broad support among black women instead of attempting to convince her as an individual:
Well, you know what? You haven’t looked at the whole thing. And I’d be happy to give you more information. And the reason that so many black women across America support me is because they know me, they know what I’ve done, and they know that I mean what I say, and I will have a very comprehensive agenda to deal with a lot of the problems. And I’m very proud to have met with the Somali-American community, to have a lot of support [there].
Clinton added that she had recently met with Abdi Warsame, a Somali-American councilman. Rosana denied that he had any position in the Somali-American community, and the Democratic candidate had simply had enough:
You know what, dear? You have a different opinion. He is a Somali-American, elected to the City Council. I’m really proud of that.
When Rosana added that she is a Somali-American, Clinton shut her down entirely, saying:
Well why don’t you go run for something, then.
The former secretary of state indeed has overwhelming support among minorities across the nation, but when Rosana dared to question her activism on behalf of the black community, Clinton wasn't down to have a civil debate. The most disheartening aspect of this exchange aren't Clinton's past "super predator" remarks. Instead, it's her willingness to shoo away a dissenter who's both a woman and a minority — two groups of people on whom Clinton has based her campaign.
Furthermore, dismissing a woman who dared to speak up by calling her "dear" implies that Clinton perceives her as a young girl who doesn't know what she's talking about. What happened to the feminist-charged slogan "I'm with her"? Clinton had no right to dismiss Rosana using terminology that would never be directed at a man. As someone who's been called "dear" during arguments with older individuals, I can affirm that it feels demeaning and disrespectful. People deserve to be heard, even if their opinion isn't favorable. After all, that comes along with the territory of being president of the melting pot known as the United States of America.