It was a chilling speech in 1996.

Speaking in favor of a new crime bill, Hillary Clinton used the term “superpredator” to describe young, mostly black, men who were residual criminals. While the term was not literally limited to blacks, it came to signify and justify the mass incarceration of young black men under harsh sentencing laws:

“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.”

Reforms to lower incarceration rates for blacks, often the result of drug offenses with minimum mandatory sentences, is a bipartisan reform issue being pushed by Republicans such as Rand Paul and others.

So it was inevitable that it would become an issue for the woman who literally coined the phrase.

At a recent private fundraiser, a young Black Lives Matters protester, Ashley Williams, confronted Hillary:

Flustered, Hillary didn’t respond substantively.

But she has apologized via Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post:

In that speech, I was talking about the impact violent crime and vicious drug cartels were having on communities across the country and the particular danger they posed to children and families. Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.

Some websites are trying to excuse Hillary’s use of the term, saying it is being taken out of context, that other parts of her speech spoke of community policing and so on.

Ah, context. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of that given to Republicans this electoral season.


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