Bernie Sanders and the Minuteman Militia: "Progressive Hero" Voted to Protect Racist Vigilante Border Thugs

In 2006, Sen. Sanders voted to protect armed racist border vigilante thugs, for the US-Mexico border only.

Yesterday, I wrote about Bernie Sanders' embarrassing inability to draw support from people of color even as he fills up stadiums with liberal upper middle class whites. In the comments, many in the community reminded me that a key issue-based reason people of color don't trust the Great White Savior of the Left is his steep and abiding support for gun touting. Others pointed out his 2007 vote against comprehensive immigration reform, with the usual dosage of piety juice regarding how Mexican guest workers were going to bring down wages for white people... I mean, Americans.

In March, Mark Stern at Slate bared Sanders' record on guns that Wayne LaPierre could be proud of. The Great White Hope of True Progressives (TM) voted against the Brady bill, took the Republican line on gun violence victims after Sandy Hook (saying gun control wouldn't do anything to reduce tragedies), and in 2005, he voted for the law that is now keeping victims of gun violence, including the families of children who are gunned down by criminals, from suing gun makers, even if they are negligent and sell guns to criminals without background checks.

Recently, he went on the Plane Still Missing Network... err, I mean CNN, to proclaim the goodness of 99.9% of gun owners in America. One might be compelled to ask the question as to how Sen. Sanders arrived at this statistic, given that over 60% of sellers on the Internet and gun shows have indicated their willingness to sell guns to someone who cannot pass a background check.

Given all of this, why the populations affected most adversely by gun violence have a pause on the Senator who is so callously pro-gun is indeed puzzling...

Turns out, though, that it gets worse. Bernie Sanders isn't content to pull out pro-gun statistics from the hat, he is on the record supporting the vigilante and racist border militia group 'The Minuteman Project'.

In 2006, realizing that a Democratic takeover is in the writing on the wall, the then-Republican majority in Congress hobbled together to write into law protections for the anti-immigrant, racist vigilante group. Even though the militia group is involved in unsanctioned, armed activity along the Mexican-American border, the Republicans barred the US government from notifying the Mexican authorities about potential dangers to their citizens living or traveling near the US-Mexico border.

The amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill read such (link to text in Congressional record):

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to provide a foreign government information relating to the activities of an organized volunteer civilian action group, operating in the State of California, Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona, unless required by international treaty.

Note the bolded part again. The language prohibited notifications of activity only in the states of California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona - all states on the Mexican border. No such prohibition applied, of course, to groups operating in the border states of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Maine or Sen. Sanders' home state, Vermont. You get three guesses as to the reason why, but it bears mentioning that these latter border states share a border with our white neighbor to the north, Canada, not with our brown southern neighbor, Mexico.

It should be clear to anyone with any amount of knowledge in race relations exactly what was happening here. Republicans in Congress were protecting their base: the anti-immigrant racists and gun nuts, both of which were personified in the "Minuteman" organization, the members of which arm themselves and play illegitimate border patrol.

Any guesses to which way Bernie Sanders, then a member of the US House, voted? That's right, he voted YES to pass this amendment (vote tally from Congressional record).

Now, to be sure, the amendment passed with 293 votes, including those of 69 Democrats. But none of them is claiming the mantle of a progressive savior pushing the party to the Left. Some of those Democrats were too afraid to vote otherwise given Bush's victory in 2004, and others were too conservative. But Bernie Sanders and his supporters tell us that he is a profile in courage and the liberal hope in the race.

Thanks to people like Sanders, leaders of the vigilante border militia groups are going around these days openly talking about putting bullets between the eyes of Mexicans and Latin Americans along the border, and gunning down American citizens in their homes and murdering them (h/t Meid_ICH in comments).

This is the great hope of liberals? This is the man liberals think should be our answer to gun violence's devastating impact on America's communities of color and to the racist right wing militia movement in our country?

I will say it again. Bernie has a race problem. And it is even more clear how and why when one looks at his attitude and voting record on issues of violence directed at and affecting communities of color.

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Sunday open thread

Bernie Sanders' Race Problem: Why People of Color Aren't Feeling the "Bern"