The “Super Predator” myth that Hillary Clinton proudly promoted
Hillary Clinton, as a new campaign strategy, has been meeting with black mothers who have lost their sons. Interestingly enough, this epidemic has only caught Clinton’s interest recently; when Trayvon Martin was killed, I don’t recall her meeting with the family – at that time, she was very busy giving quarter million dollar speeches to Wall Street. But in any event, what makes her recent interest in the young black male community more galling is her championship of the laws of the 90’s, and in particular the term “super predator,” which resulted in a decimation of the black community and harsh sentencing for young offenders. And yes, as this site noted, we can in fact blame Hillary for then president Bill Clinton’s policies. You can read about that here. But the larger point is that Hillary and Bill Clinton did more to damage and harm the black community than Hillary Clinton’s supporters are today willing to admit. It’s political expediency that drives her new-found empathy for young black males. It wasn’t always the case.
Don’t let Hillary Clinton fool you: She is single-minded in her pursuit of the White House, and if she can utilize people as political tools, she will. And she is. Let’s start with the well-publicized fact that the Clinton Camp thinks of blacks as her “firewall.”
Here’s a little back story about the “super predator” myth.
It was the 90’s, and John DiIulio, a professor at Princeton, coined the term “superpredator” to describe an ominous uptick in juvenile crime on the horizon. Criminologist James Fox added his voice, saying publicly, “Unless we act today, we’re going to have a bloodbath when these kids grow up.”
As the Equal Justice Initiative reported:
These predictions set off a panic, fueled by highly publicized heinous crimes committed by juvenile offenders, which led nearly every state to pass legislation between 1992 and 1999 that dramatically increased the treatment of juveniles as adults for purposes of sentencing and punishment.
As DiIulio and Fox themselves later admitted, the prediction of a juvenile superpredator epidemic turned out to be wrong. In fact, violent juvenile crime rates had already started to fall in the mid-1990’s. By 2000, the juvenile homicide rate stabilized below the 1985 level.
A couple of years ago, a New York Times editorial wrote a scathing report of the “Super Predator” era, and specifically noted its racial overtones. “A menacing new breed of children . . . that can kill, rape, maim, without giving it a second thought.” Many of the propaganda, as the editorial noted, was accompanied by images of glowering young black men.
And yes, that is what Hillary Clinton promoted in the 90’s when she talked about “super predators” and said we needed to “bring them to heel.” The Clintons jumped on the “super predator” bandwagon that later turned out to be completely wrong, and as a result, as the Equal Justice Initiative noted, these attitudes shaped new laws that resulted in children as young as ten being exposed to adult prosecution in the U.S., 10,000 children housed in adult jails and prisons in the U.S., and nearly 3,000 American children being sentenced to die in prison.
A student in psychology in the 90’s, who worked with young gang members, wrote an article on his experiences in the 90’s, the Clintons, and the “super predator” myth. It’s a good read. In it, he noted,
Did the Clintons try to help me and my colleague battle this myth and offer real treatment and solutions for these kids? Not on your life! And worse, they pushed crime bills that treated these kids as adults. So the young black man in my office wanting to change was moved to an adult prison because he had a gram of cocaine with intent to sell. The young Hispanic woman wanting to change was moved to an adult prison because she had an assault charge for beating up a store clerk during a robbery for drug money.
In 1994, while Bernie Sanders voted for the crime bill, he railed on the floor of Congress about the issue of mass incarceration and poverty. While the Clintons promoted the bill in order to throw “super predators” in jail for the rest of their natural lives and proudly lobbied for the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act for the wrong reasons, Bernie Sanders offered this:
All the jails in the world and all the executions in the world will not make that situation right. We can either educate or electrocute. We can create meaningful jobs rebuilding our society or we can build more jails . . . .
Clinton advocated building more jails. Bernie Sanders has spent his life trying to convince an unwilling audience that poverty and education need to be addressed and that mass incarceration is not any kind of answer.