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Pete Buttigieg personally phones up journalist who called him a ‘lying motherf**ker’

Vic Parsons November 28, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Alex Wong/Getty)

Gay US presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg personally phoned up a journalist who called him a “lying motherf**ker” this week.

Michael Harriot wrote a piece for The Root with the headline “Pete Puttigieg is a lying MF” on Monday, 25 November, and Buttigieg called him within 24 hours to talk about why.

Harriot’s piece criticised remarks that Buttigieg made in 2011, when he was first running to be mayor of South Bend, Indiana, “explaining why negro kids fail at school so often”.

“Men like him are more willing to perpetuate the fantastic narrative of negro neighbourhoods needing more role models and briefcase-carriers than make the people in power stare into the sun and see the blinding light of racism,” Harriot wrote.

Buttigieg had said: “Kids need to see evidence that education is going to work for them. You’re motivated because you believe that at the end of your education, there is a reward; there’s a stable life; there’s a job. And there are a lot of kids—especially [in] the lower-income, minority neighbourhoods, who literally just haven’t seen it work. There isn’t someone who they know personally who testifies to the value of education.”

In response, Harriot’s op-ed detailed how Buttigieg’s remarks followed a familiar pattern of white people upholding longstanding racial inequality.

“This is not just a lie of omission, it is a dangerous precedent,” Harriot said. “This is why institutional inequality persists. Not because of white hoods and racial slurs. It is because this insidious double-talk erases the problem by camouflaging it. Because it is painted as a problem of black lethargy and not white apathy.”

Buttigieg’s team clearly saw Harriot’s piece, because the next thing Harriot knew, Buttigieg was calling him.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been called a ‘lying motherf**ker’ before,” Buttigieg told Harriot, according to a second piece for The Root that Harriot wrote detailing their phone call.

The pair spoke for 20 minutes, and Harriot said they were able to find some common ground.

“I conceded that the problems with institutional racism are so complex and go back so far that I’m not sure that anyone—a mayor, a governor or even a president—could fix them,” Harriot said. “Buttigieg, however, insisted that there are some things that people in power could do to make things more equal, a point I actually agreed with.”

Harriot added: “There is no way that I can know if he is genuinely interested in engaging black voters, attacking discrimination or crossing the racial divide. There are an infinite number of candidates who have waded into black barbershops or sashayed into black pulpits to assure us that they were on our side when they were only interested in our vote.

“The entire point of the primary process is for voters to dictate their concerns to the candidates and for candidates to learn from voters. Black America wants their party to emerge victorious but not if we have to offer our votes as a living sacrifice for the sake of ‘party unity’.

“And, as I told the mayor, the article wasn’t meant to inspire outrage. Its purpose was to make a necessary point about black voters and real issues.

“The only thing I actually know about Pete Buttigieg is that he is a white man. But Pete Buttigieg listened, which is all you can ask a white man to do. Unless, of course, he wants to fight.”

 

More: michael harriot, Pete Buttigieg, racism, the root

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