Sunday, April 27, 2008

Denver Could Be a Real Riot

What are the chances of a riot at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, and who would riot and why?

A lot has been said about Al Sharpton promising "trouble in Denver" so I went back to find the original quote. Sharpton was a guest on Bill O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor TV show. O'Reilly asked him what would happen if the superdelegates picked Clinton in a backroom deal, overturning Obama's leads in delegates and the popular vote:

Sharpton: Well, you not only would see people like me demonstrating, you may see us talking about whether or not we can support that ticket.

That audio clip was played on the Rush Limbaugh radio show:

Rush: OK, what does demonstrating mean? The Reverend Sharpton is the one who put this notion out there.

And during the same show:

Rush: Call Al Sharpton, Lisa. He's the one that established the whole concept of trouble brewing in Denver if he didn't get his way.

So, I don't see that Sharpton actually used the word "riot" or said there would be "trouble in Denver." That was Rush paraphrasing him, and now, all over the internet, people are quoting Sharpton as threatening a riot or promising "trouble in Denver." But it was Limbaugh paraphrasing Sharpton that somehow got turned into an actual quote.

I don't mean to place myself in the uncomfortable position of defending Al Sharpton. Rush may well be right that Sharpton means to imply "trouble" and "riots" without actually saying anything more than the word "demonstrating," which always happens at conventions anyway.

Rush, for his part, has said about rioting in Denver:

Rush: Now, I am not inspiring or inciting riots. I'm dreaming. (Singing to the tune of White Christmas) "I'm dreaming of riots in Denver."...But the fact is that the Democrat Party has members in it that have already said, "There will be riots," or something to that effect. Al Sharpton.

The possibility of Sharpton causing "trouble" in Denver is real for no reason except that Obama could be denied the nomination by the superdelegates. The feeling is growing, especially after the Pennsylvania primary, that Obama can't win the white vote in the general election. And I think the reason is that when the primaries started, white voters wanted to believe that Obama was the heir to Martin Luther King Jr., but now, after revelations of his association with William Ayers (the terrorist from the Weather Underground), his pastor Jeremiah Wright, and the fallout over bittergate, whites now see him as more like Malcolm X, and that is unacceptable.

Even so, it may be too late for Democrats to not nominate Obama, given the uproar that would likely result, and the loss of the black vote--even though he may already be terminally damaged and a guaranteed loser in November.

Recreate68 is the closest anyone is coming to openly threatening riots, although their website doesn’t use that word. They do invoke the year 1968, the year of the Chicago riots at the Democratic National Conference. They do invoke the word “revolution” as well. To quote from their website:

In 1968 there existed a spirit of change, the Paris Rebellion, Prague, Chicago, Vietnam, etc. People believed, around the world, that they were capable of taking over the institutions that controlled their lives. The smell of revolution was in the air. Over 1 million college students openly identified as revolutionist. People believed that through mass participation in the movement, it was possible to wrest control from the elite power-holders. They were not willing to accept the loss of their human and civil rights…We intend to recreate that need for change and mass participation in the events that shape and control our lives. We intend to recreate that revolutionary feeling and pick-up where our predecessors left off.

That's as close as you can come to threatening riots without actually using the word. Meanwhile Denver is importing additional security to "protect the city" during the convention.

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