On Saturday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley were confronted by aggressive and unreasonable members of what the press has dubbed the “black lives matter” movement. Both candidates were rudely interrupted by those protestors who stormed the stage on which the candidates were seated, seized the microphone, and commandeered the event. But the most shocking episode to emerge from Phoenix this year involved a repudiation of the notion that all people of every racial background deserve to live.
When confronted by chants of “black lives matter” during his address to the conference, O’Malley replied: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” Contrary to press reports that suggested the crowd erupted in protest when O’Malley dared contend that “all lives matter,” video of the event clearly indicates it was his contention that “white lives matter” that proved truly unacceptable for the event attendees. For this perfectly reasonable contention, O’Malley was compelled by the unreasoning mob to apologize.
“I meant no disrespect,” O’Malley told the hosts of the web-based program, This Week in Blackness. “That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect. I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”
The nation’s political press will no doubt devote far more attention to the Trump spectacle than a Democratic candidate’s apology for daring to contend that all lives have value. That will not reduce the impact of this moment. When a crowd of Democratic National Committee attendees erupted in a chorus of “boos” when the party platform was amended to add a reference to God and the city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the discomforting moment did not dominate the evening news but it was both powerful and consequential. Even today, that episode lives in infamy in the minds of voters. The press will not prompt Democrats to confront the excessive and irrational elements within their party. For Democrats as well as Republicans, they run the risk of allowing the nastier elements of their bases to come to typify both parties in the minds of unaffiliated voters. With the prodding of the press, however, only one party is busily confronting that condition.