Nina Turner, the former Ohio State Senator and head of the SuperPAC Our Revolution, has managed to offend almost every reasonable center-left Democrat in the last two years. One of the only prominent African-American women to endorse Bernie Sanders in the primary, she refused to endorse Hillary Clinton and eventually voted for Jill Stein. Since then, she has sounded alarmingly like a Republican, claiming that ordinary voters “don’t care” about Russia, pushing the debunked Uranium One scandal, and endorsing Dennis Kucinich, the former Ohio Congressman who believes in Deep State conspiracies against Donald Trump, for governor of Ohio this year. But criticize her for any of this and the Bernie trolls will come for you with their claws out.
I learned this the hard way last summer when I wrote an article called “Nina Turner’s Inferior Donuts” after she took offense at DNC officials who offered her and some anti-DNC protestors donuts and water when they reached their headquarters in Washington D.C. I argued that this kind of anger was an irrational response to something that wasn’t remotely a threat to her and her supporters’ well-being, especially compared to the abuses that activists in the Civil Rights Movement went through. I tied it in with a visit I took to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis a few weeks prior, polished the piece, and hit “publish.”
None of my other articles has ever received such negative pushback. I was called a bigot, a racist, a whitesplainer and a mansplainer (mostly by white men, I should add). Looking back on it nearly a year later, I still wonder if I could have made my thesis – that Nina Turner’s “activism” is a disgrace to those who fought for her right to have a seat at the table – clearer. Fortunately, I don’t have to do that since she did it for me today, when she compared Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to Martin Luther King Jr.
Yes, you read that correctly: Nina Turner says that the FBI is treating Michael Cohen, a shady, corrupt criminal, the same way they treated Civil Rights Icon and Nobel Peace Laureate Martin Luther King Jr. was.
It began when CNN State of the Union host Jake Tapper asked Turner to address Trump’s tweet decrying the FBI’s raid on Cohen’s office, asking if the raid concerned her at all. Turner responded:
“A little…and maybe if there’s something really there, then that remains to be seen. But certainly throughout the history of this country, especially when it comes to African-American folks, I mean…Black Panthers, you know, Dr. King, Malcolm X, other Civil Rights freedom fighters, you can see that sometimes the government can go too far in its effort and be skewed one way. Now that’s not to say that the Cohen incident is parallel to that, but as American citizens, we should have some concern for how this goes, even if it’s against somebody we don’t like…it’s not about like or dislike, it’s about how we operate as a government.”
The full clip can be seen below, and it must be seen to be believed, especially for Rick Santorum’s stinkeye at 00:42.
No one will deny that the FBI overstepped its boundaries in its attacks on Dr. King, and the stories of J. Edgar Hoover taping his liaisons with other women to blackmail him are now legion enough that they have been depicted in popular culture, most notably in Robert Schenkkan’s play All the Way and Ava DuVernay’s biopic Selma. It remains one of the most disgraceful moments in the history of law enforcement in this country. But to compare it to what’s happened to Michael Cohen – even though Turner tried to backtrack on this midway through her remarks – is a disgraceful false equivalency. King was under investigation because of what the FBI feared he might do; Cohen has been under investigation for months because of things that he did. And let’s not forget what prompted this comparison – Turner was defending a tweet from Donald Trump, of all people. This sleight-of-hand would’ve made KellyAnne Conway proud.
Tapper himself has been criticized for bringing Turner on his show. In a back-and-forth on Twitter with Democratic strategist Tom Watson last month, he defended her, praising her as “eloquent, passionate, [and] progressive.” He may have to reconsider that after today, since Turner has shown herself once again for the fraud she is, someone who doesn’t care about advancing a left-wing agenda and would rather stomp out the voices of those she disagrees with in the name of purity. As Dr. King himself said, “idealists are usually not realistic.”
Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.