"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

To defeat bigotry Hillary Clinton's campaign memoir should be read with open mind Featured

November 8 marked the first anniversary of the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. Thanks to his anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, and misogynist rhetoric, white supremacy has gained a stronger foothold across North America since the time of his campaign.


To understand and challenge the emergence of bigotry across the border—and its impact on Canada where alt right movement has grown over the past year—it is important to read Hillary Clinton’s memoir on the presidential election.

What Happened makes one understand what contributed to Trump's victory over a much more seasoned political figure like Clinton—a former secretary of state and the wife of former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

Of course, Clinton tries to explain the reality from her standpoint and her own biases and prejudices.

This cannot be ignored but those concerned with the changing political landscape of North America under Trump and increased hatred against Muslims and other minority groups must still try to hear her out.

Despite all the limitations of Clinton’s own politics, she raises very valid questions about what prompted people to vote for a right-wing Republican candidate, ignoring his racially charged statements against minorities and immigrants, as well as his sexist remarks about women. In so doing, she also admits to some of the mistakes made by her campaign.

Even though Clinton made history by becoming the first female presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party, she failed to defeat Trump for a number of reasons mentioned in her book. Back in 2008 she was also defeated in the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination by Barack Obama, who became the first black oresident of the U.S.

While she acknowledges that she still won more popular votes than Trump, she could not win enough Electoral College electors to become president.

This was partly because Obama, the Democrat, had already served two terms and it was unlikely that the American people would give Clinton, another Democratic presidential candidate, a chance.

However, Clinton came under sharp criticism for routing her personal email through a private server while serving as the secretary of state. Even as she was cleared by investigative agencies of any serious wrongdoing or compromising national security, a section of the media did not let the issue die.

Clinton writes that this issue was blown out of proportion in comparison to Trump’s divisive politics.

In her book, she also accuses Russia of interfering in U.S. elections by using hackers and social media to spread fake news stories about her as Trump remained indifferent to this.

She argues that the Russian government under Vladimir Putin patronized alt-right forces in the U.S. and other western democracies, which only helped Trump.

Clinton also writes that Trump polarized the white middle class against racialized communities, taking advantage of their anger over the opioid crisis and growing unemployment.

In addition, she points out how businesses played a large role in socioeconomic inequalities, yet they became a refuge for Trump and voters who could not understand this.

Instead, Trump and many voters vented their anger over inequality on people of colour and women, blaming them for taking away their jobs.

Clinton also takes a stand on behalf of people of colour in the U.S. She notes that they continue to endure racial violence both at the hands of police and vigilantes, and she insists on moving forward through “radical empathy”.

She blames the negative media coverage of her candidacy for the lack of interest among voters of colour in her campaign. And that helped Trump win the election by keeping her supporters away from polling stations.

Moreover, she points out how in certain states, voters from minority communities who were inclined to support her were disfranchised on flimsy grounds.  

Nevertheless she is also critical of the left, in particular those supporters of Bernie Sanders, whom she defeated for the Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton makes a case that they did not do enough to make her win.

The book acknowledges that the gun lobby remains powerful in the U.S. because political parties find it difficult to challenge them. The same lobby group, she claims, worked hard to defeat her due to her advocacy for strong background checks against criminals wanting to purchase guns.

In What Happened, Clinton also offers insights into prejudices against women in politics. Her own experiences with sexism during her school days and early years of her legal profession and political life find a mention, too.  

Canada is not immune to racism and in this country white supremacists have become active.

This is why those who have been working hard to keep the political right out of power need to give up some of their cynicism about Clinton and go through some of the important issues she has raised.

This will help them learn to decode the narratives of people like Trump, which can ultimately help defeat their designs. 

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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


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