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Hillary Clinton’s embrace of Mothers of the Movement is positive. It’s also saving face

Tuesday night in Philadelphia, the Mothers of the Movement—the mothers of black Americans Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and others who died under questionable circumstances—cried out for justice and for Hillary Clinton to become president.

Bill Clinton’s speech lauded his wife as an early champion of desegregation and civil rights. The emphasis on these issues is good and needed.

It’s also saving face.

Related: Crowd cheers “Black Lives Matter” as it welcomes seven mothers during an emotional DNC moment

In 2015, former Republican presidential candidate (and my former boss) Senator Rand Paul said that President Bill Clinton “put a generation of black men in prison.”

Paul was referring to the draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws that were enacted in the 1990s that Bill Clinton championed.

When asked how he might confront Hillary on the issues, Sen. Paul said, “If I were the nominee, we will compete in Philadelphia.”

“I’ll ask Hillary Clinton,” Sen. Paul said “what have you done for criminal justice?”

It was only April when Black Lives Matter protesters confronted Bill Clinton about his record as president, linking his wife to it and questioning her judgment.

“Clinton spent more than 10 minutes loudly confronting the protesters who claimed that crime reform policies enacted during his presidency have hurt the black community by increasing incarceration rates,” Rare reported in April.

Bill Clinton said, “I don’t know how you would characterize the gang leaders who got 13-year-old kids hopped on crack and sent them out on the street to murder other African-American children.”

Rolling Stone’s Lincoln Blades wrote of the interaction, “for once, we got to see under the veneer of white, liberal political correctness — we got to see a white person with power who’s done real harm to our community say what he truly believes.”

Blades continued, “And as a black person, there’s nothing I appreciate more than white people being upfront and honest about their problematic beliefs.”

Alicia Garza, a co-creator of Black Lives Matter wrote at CNN:

Shamelessly, in defense of his 1994 crime bill, which both he and Hillary Clinton vigorously campaigned for, Clinton declares, “Maybe you thought they were good citizens … you are defending the people who kill the lives you say matter. Tell the truth. You are defending the people who cause young people to go out and take guns.”

But it is shameful — shameful because the lives of so many who were ravaged by that bill was the bridge that Clinton attempted to walk over in order to appeal to white voters who may have otherwise favored Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

It’s shameful because it was just a year ago that both Clintons acknowledged the flaws in the 1994 crime bill that helped lead to the crisis over hyper-incarceration and the resulting boom of the private prison industry. The crime bill was part of a national effort that resulted in the reality that black people, who comprise approximately 13% of the nation’s population, represent 40% of the people incarcerated in this country.

You throw in Hillary Clinton’s 1996 language about “super predators”—young black criminals—with “no conscience, no empathy” and those wounds… well, they run deep.

The Clintons desperately want the country–and black voters–to forget.

President Bill Clinton basically tried to show America in the 90s that Democrats could be as “tough” on crime as Republicans, and a “generation of black men” did pay the price for it.

Those costs and the damage wrought are still being felt in the black community today.

Related: Is loving everyone even possible?

It’s good that the Clintons—like more than a few Republicans—are changing their tune on these racially charged issues. But let’s not pretend for one second that this isn’t also politics.

This is Hillary and Bill Clinton we’re talking about.

And the fact remains that there was time when they both appeared to believe black lives mattered a lot less.

Disclosure: I co-authored 2011’s The Tea Party Goes to Washington by Sen. Rand Paul.

This post is from RareRare. Click here to read the full text

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