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February 11, 2021

Bernie’s “White Privilege”: Another Look at the Insanity of Cancel Culture.

For the majority of us who believed in Bernie Sanders, 2020 was more difficult to watch than even 2016.

Where Sanders was once a galvanizing force for the progressive left, he went on to receive criticism from all sides this time around. He was a socialist to some. (Not a democratic socialist, just a socialist.) He was misogynistic to others. He was too old. He was too grumpy.

I, like many others, watched him get eviscerated by the press and blown out of the primaries in such a creative way, that I kind of felt like the centrist candidate was my only “choice,” and I better just vote for him. I did my civic duty, but I did not forget how I felt about it.

Centrists did, though. Once they got their candidate pushed through and sworn in, they were quite open to showing Sanders the love. You’d seriously have to be living under a rock to have missed the meme of Bernie and his mittens at the Inauguration. It was, in fact, quite a bit more popular than anything the new president did that day. So popular, that it dominated the interwebs for weeks.

Bernie, not being one to see an opportunity to help others go to waste, used this viral meme on merchandise and raised close to two million dollars for the Meals on Wheels program in his home state of Vermont.

The benign image of a curmudgeonly old Senator dressed for comfort on a January afternoon could not have possibly drawn the ire of any group, could it? Of course it could. According to public high school teacher Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, who wrote an op-ed for The San Francisco Chronicle this past Sunday, Sanders was flaunting his white privilege, his male privilege, his class privilege, and, most likely, four or five other privileges that we don’t have the space to mention at this time.

In the teacher’s words, Sanders was not this serious public servant who cared way more about public service than wearing the right designer suit to such an auspicious red carpet event, he was “a wealthy, incredibly well-educated and privileged white man, showing up for perhaps the most important ritual of the decade, in a puffy jacket and huge mittens.”

Seyer-Ochi went on to explain that she did not “know many poor, or working class, or female, or struggling-to-be-taken-seriously folk who would show up at the inauguration of our 46th president dressed like Bernie.”

Now let’s all return to earth for a minute. We are talking about a lifelong public servant who in 1963 attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, won the election as Mayor of Burlington in 1981, won a seat in the House of Representatives by 1990, and finally won a seat on the Senate in 2006—all the while with one goal, one message, one driving force—to help the poor and working classes of this country. You can go back on Google and look up any interview he has done over the last 50 years and see that this mission has never changed.

Here is a man who was pushing a progressive agenda when a progressive agenda went beyond simply tweeting out snarky one-liners on Twitter. This was back in the day where you actually had to show up and burn some shoe leather to make a difference. There was real work involved.

This, in a nutshell, is where the woke generation is starting to lose me.

I can’t help but feel like the ultra-progressive faction is trying to play a strange game of “Where’s Waldo?” only instead of looking for the cartoon character, they are looking for something to be offended by. Now this may, at first glance, just seem humorous and annoying, but goes a little beyond that for me.

This frivolous treatise by Seyer-Ochi went viral, not because it was such an important piece of journalism, but because it took the ridiculous nature of cancel culture to the heights of absurdity. It cries wolf and removes valuable attention from real social change to put on sensationalistic nonsense. It sells us out for cheap clicks.

So the obvious frivolity of this article is maddening, but it’s the damaging nature to the cause of social justice that makes me see red. Anyone who has been on the planet long enough understands the inherent wisdom behind the idea of choosing one’s battles carefully. A squeaky wheel will only get so much grease. If the wheel is ceaselessly and incessantly squeaky, it’ll just be replaced.

When a group of people are offended by everything, when everything is a problem, the population will stop listening. I’m fairly certain that this will be the outcome. So, is this article laughable? Sure it is. Is it dangerous?

Absolutely.

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