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  • Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton | Photo: EFE

Published 23 April 2015
An open letter to one commentator who believes that the symbolic power of Hillary Clinton "transcends all else”.

Dear Deborah Orr,

In this piece about Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, you point to her one supposedly redeeming feature: she is a female candidate in a country that has never had a female president. You wrote that “the symbolic power of her appointment transcends all else.”

It’s significant that you use the word “appointment” rather than “election”. Indeed, the USA’s plutocratic system may be willing to “appoint” her as they twice “appointed” a black man.

Seven years after Obama first took office a BlackLivesMatter movement is required in the USA as cops kill one black person after another with impunity. I guess US police were immune to the “symbolic power” of Obama’s appointment. Institutional racism continues to thrive.

Why do you think Clinton’s appointment will do any better for equity between genders? The USA has already had female Secretaries of State, female governors and female Supreme Court justices – just as it long had black people in those positions before the Obama presidency.

Did you know that Hillary Clinton admitted to helping a military coup succeed in Honduras?

In her memoir Clinton wrote “In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico….We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.”

Zelaya was the democratically elected president who was overthrown in June of 2009 – exiled from his country at gunpoint. The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) explained “The question of Zelaya was anything but moot. Latin America leaders, the United Nations General Assembly and other international bodies vehemently demanded his immediate return to office.“

How likely were “free and fair elections” in Honduras when the military coup succeeded - in no small part thanks to Clinton and Obama’s help? The majority of the region’s governments refused to recognize the elections despite the USA’s efforts because Zelaya was not reinstated and because the elections were carried out under very harsh repression.

Refugee flows from Honduras in subsequent years confirm what numerous human rights groups alleged about Honduras after the coup. As Rania Khlaek reminds us in this piece, “over 13,000 of the estimated 47,000 children detained [by the US border patrol] between October 2013 to May 2014 came from Honduras” which was more than thirteen times the number of children who fled Honduras in 2009. This is what Hillary Clinton had to say about child refugees from Central America:

“…they should be sent back” to “send a clear message” to their parents that “just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”

She certainly sent a clear message about her total lack of humanity. Incidentally, the coup she supported also led to dramatic increase in violence against LGBT activists, among many other grim consequences, as the most backward elements of the Honduran elite were empowered.

Clinton also put her inhumanity on display when she cackled over Gaddafi’s murder with an obviously like-minded TV journalist (video here).

Despite her horrific track record, she is not the most disgusting of US politicians. However, that hardly says much when the US Senate unanimously endorsed Israel's barbaric assault on Gaza in 2014. Clinton herself said that “Israel did what it had to do”.

The harshest thing you said about Clinton was “I don’t expect her to be the best president ever.”

Don’t the victims in Libya, Honduras and Gaza, among so many other places, deserve and urgently need recognition?

You wrote “there is no choice between a woman laden with baggage and a woman unencumbered with it.”  When will there be such a choice when the gruesome track record of a candidate like Hilary Clinton is so easily ignored and downplayed as an “imperfection” or “baggage”?

You wrote that the United States “still kills and tortures because it believes its moral authority is impregnable.” The myth of its “moral authority” stems from a mass media that renders its victims invisible. Thanks to the media, most people in the US and UK believe that about 10,000 Iraqis, or fewer, died as a result of the war that began in 2003 when a credible estimate is at least half a million. In the UK, women are even more likely to wildly underestimate the death toll than men.

I assume you know that Hillary Clinton, as a Senator, voted in favor of the Iraq War in 2002? She also voted for the bombing of Afghanistan in 2001 while it was already in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.  

It’s chilling to think how many “symbolically powerful” presidential “appointments” could be made to distract from wretched nature of the elite-backed candidates in the USA: the first female president, first gay president, first gay female president, first Latino President, first Latina president and so on. One could easily choose to be blinded by that kind of smokescreen for decades.


Joe Emersberger

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