6. January 28, 1996: “Superpredators”
Of course, Clinton’s tenuous relations with the black community did not begin in 2016. Decades ago, the “tough on crime” mantra was one carried by all political persuasions. During that time, while serving as First Lady, Clinton used some very poignant words, after applauding her husband for putting more police on the streets. She said:
We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels, they are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators — no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first, we have to bring them to heel.
Every element of this speech is filled with what would likely be labeled by progressives as “racial dog-whistles” if spoken by conservatives. Her phrasing was brought up by Republicans and Black Lives Matter groups throughout the election, and undoubtedly hurt her with those Americans (including most notably black citizens) seeking reform of the criminal justice system.