Hillary Clinton cares more about police officers getting away with killing black people than Donald Trump does, according to Real Time host Bill Maher. And on his HBO show Friday night, Maher exploited the brutal slayings of Terence Crutcher and Walter Scott in an effort to get Cornel West to agree with him.
As previously reported by The Root, on May 17 a jury found Tulsa, Okla., Police Officer Betty Shelby not guilty of manslaughter in Crutcher’s death. The first murder trial for Michael Slager, the South carolina police officer who fatally shot Scott in the back, ended in mistrial in December because of a hung jury. Earlier this month, Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights in exchange for the prosecution dropping the murder charge.
Fatally shooting someone in the back while he’s running away, or fatally shooting someone multiple times while he’s walking away with his hands up, certainly qualifies as a civil and human rights violation. These acts of state violence should also have qualified for murder convictions, but America.
Friday night on Real Time, Maher used Crutcher’s and Scott’s black bodies—and all black people shot down by police—as political props. He used their black lives as ledes and their slayings as segues into what he really wanted to do: Put their blood on West’s hands and on anyone’s who was critical of or didn’t vote for Clinton.
White liberalism in high definition.
Though West tried to redirect the conversation back to the fact that, once again, police officers were given “Kill-a-Black Person” passes in a court of law, Maher was not trying to be distracted from what he felt was important:
I know this is a matter close to your heart. There was an acquittal this week of a police officer, Betty Jo Shelby from Tulsa. She shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man. She said she feared for her life, and then in South Carolina, Michael Slager shot Walter Scott in his back, and that was a mistrial. And this argument that the cops get away with, “I was fearful that they might do something erratic,” I thought when you went into the police department that you understood there was some danger in this job. I don’t know where they got this idea that if I fear at all, I am allowed to shoot you. And by the way, Trump is all for it and Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have been.
So, as someone who said they were equally awful ...
After a few words in response, West tried to recenter the conversation on victims of state-sanctioned violence, the U.S. injustice system, and how intrinsically capitalism and racism are linked:
Let’s keep the focus where it belongs: The police have yet to go to jail when they end up committing violence and murdering these young black brothers and sisters. And the problem is, we want a fair trial for them, but there’s a chronic racism that’s shot through, but it’s just not the police. Same is true on Wall Street, no Wall Street executives go to jail, either. Rule of law comes down hard on the poor, the well-to-do get off, or the police get off because they’re protecting the profit.
The entire time West was speaking, Maher was like a child playing double Dutch, anxious, excited and determined, just waiting for his chance to jump in.
“Right ... but Hillary ... but ... I know, but ... ,” he tried to interject, but it was never the right spin of the rope.
Once West finished speaking, Maher brought it all back to Clinton and Trump, showing more excitement and passion when speaking about those two than he ever did in the 47 seconds he spent talking about police brutality.
Unfortunately, West took the bait, and the two men ended up having a fiery debate about Bernie Sanders, Clinton and Trump, when a discussion of white supremacists in badges—and the criminal system that protects them—is what the moment called for.
Watch the clip below:
I’m trying to remember the episode of Real Time dedicated to discussing police violence, discriminatory policing, the Movement for Black Lives or why a financial divestment from police departments—that reroutes funds to the occupied and systemically oppressed communities they pretend to protect—is necessary, but I’m drawing a blank.
Of course, Maher has proved he’s this guy before. This is, after all, the same man who spends so much time criticizing Trump while making heart eyes at Ann Coulter, an unadulterated bigot who made a name for herself being as repulsive and racist as humanly possible. This is also the man who called Black Lives Matter activists “fucking idiots” for criticizing Hillary Clinton.
White liberals have mastered concern of convenience, though. When caring about black people, Latinx people, indigenous people or poor people seems to be in their best political interest, the tears are continuous. But when the need for radical change is discussed, a radical change that does not include automatically defaulting to Clinton because “she’s much better than Trump,” then the same white liberals tell those same people not to be so demanding and impatient and “ideologically pure.” They tell them not to let “perfect be the enemy of the good.”
Maher said his most honest words in the beginning of the segment:
“I know this is a matter close to your heart ... ,” Maher said to West.
At least he didn’t pretend that it is close to his own.
Dear Mr. Maher: Next time you want to wallow in Clinton’s loss, pretend to have some decency and don’t exploit the police killings of black people to prove your point. Because—and this may come as a shock—police officers continue to kill with impunity regardless of which party or person occupies the Oval Office.