“Auntie” Maxine Waters is gaining attention on social media for being so vocal about Donald Trump. But some of her latest comments evoked an inappropriate response from Bill O’Reilly. I would like to share my thoughts about it, along with some background information on the California Congresswoman.
Who Is Maxine Waters?
Maxine Waters, represents California’s 43rd district and she is the ranking Democrat of the House Financial Services Committee. She was first elected in 1991.
Waters said that she developed a love of the Constitution since she was in grade school and she has 37 years of experience in public service. She began her civic work through Head Start, when one of her friends started talking about the then pilot program in the late 1980’s. The two of them applied to work for Head Start, but only Waters got the job.
At Head Start, a program for children, Waters became the supervisor of volunteer services and parent involvement. She eventually came into contact with politicians who were involved with the funding of the program and then started getting involved in political campaigns.
She was involved in politics some time before. In the 1970’s, she worked with Gloria Steinem and Bella Azbug to support Jimmy Carter. The women formed the first International Women’s Conference or the National Women’s Conference for Carter, but it was quickly disbanded.
Why Maxine Waters Is So Against Trump
Waters boycotted Trump’s inauguration and his first address to Congress. When asked about her decision she said, “I don’t honor him, I don’t respect him, and I don’t want to be involved with him.”
Waters had been vocal about the suspected ties Trump has to Russia.
She fired back with Interior Secretary Mulvaney tried to blame Democrats for the failure of the health care bill.
Around January 13, Waters said that FBI Director James Comey had “no credibility.”
Waters has made no secret that she would like to see Trump be impeached.
On the whole, Waters stated that she was taken aback by the types of comments Trump made during the campaign.
Waters was appalled by the way Trump acted on the campaign trail. She hated how he talked about women, how he addressed former secretary Clinton, and how he made fun of a disabled reporter.
During the campaign, I was appalled at the way that he mocked a disabled journalist. I was appalled at the statements he made about grabbing women in their private parts. I was appalled by the way he treated Hillary Clinton — I was at the debate in St. Louis where he stalked her. He’s a bully, he’s disrespectful of other human beings, and he’s cruel. So all of those things weighed heavily on me and helped formulate my commitment to oppose him.
Waters told Joy Reid earlier this month that Trump’s rhetoric and demeanor disqualified him for the role of president and she refused to attend his first appearance in front of a joint session of Congress. Also, Waters ridiculed Trump’s assertion that former President Barack Obama was spying on Trump and his team.
About Trump’s Cabinet
In February, Maxine Waters called Trump’s cabinet a “bunch of scumbags organized around making money.” She said they had ties to money and oil and she questioned their presence in government.
She appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, during which she talked about the Trump administration’s potential ties to Russia. She claimed that Russia “hacked into our election” in order “to make sure that Donald Trump got elected.” And she questioned Rex Tillerson’s motives as Secretary of State.
(As I have shared in a past News Roundup, Rex Tillerson has some experience talking to Russia. As the chief executive at ExxonMobil, Tillerson has made energy deals with at least one Russian oil company and he was awarded Russia’s Order of Friendship in 2013. This raised red flags for me when I first learned of it.)
Waters claimed that Tillerson wanted to lift the sanctions off Russia that were placed there by Obama in response to claims that Russia hacked the DNC and Jon Podesta’s emails. I shared the details of those sanctions in another News Roundup.
After Waters took to Twitter to voice her displeasure with Trump, she gained a following on the platform. She was likened to an “Auntie” due to the tone of her tweets. (At the time I her checked her Twitter page, Maxine Waters had 272,723 total followers on the platform.)
In an interview with The Cut, Rep. Maxine Waters talked about reaching out to millennials and what she thinks the Democrats need to do in the immediate future.
Waters said that reaching out to millennials is easier than people make it out to be. Politicians don’t need to do an outreach, but speak the truth and speak honestly on topics people care about. Basically, politicians have to find ways to make millennials come to them and this can be a mutual learning experience.
For her part, Waters is proud to see the increased activity from millennials and has embraced the nickname “Auntie Maxine.” She regularly talks to her own grandchildren and in once instance asked them what “shade” meant as a slang term.
I’m so proud of this connection that I’ve made with these young people. They do call me Auntie Maxine. I embrace that. I love that. And I’m gonna be their auntie,” she said. “I’m gonna keep telling the truth. And I want them to get out there, register people to vote, get active and bombard the Congress of the United States and the leadership with what they want them to do.
More importantly, Waters said she wanted to represent regular people, meaning those who are often forgotten and don’t have much of a voice.
Waters on Democrats
Waters said that the Democrats’ role now “is to be vocal.” She added, “We should educate [people] and make sure that the information is not just sound bites on television… We should also have to focus on taking back the House and the Senate – we have to energize folks and elect people who have the best interest of the average person at heart.”
Waters’ March 27, 2017 Speech on Patriotism
In a March 27, 2017 speech in the House of Representatives, Maxine Waters made comments about patriotism and the Trump administration. Here is a snippet I transcribed:
Although America has not always been there for us, we have always been there for America. We have fought in America’s wars. We have suffered discrimination. We have … suffered isolation and undermining, but we stand up for America oftentimes when others who think there are more patriotic, who say they are more patriotic do not.
When we fight against this president, and we point out how dangerous he is for this society and for this country, we’re fighting for the democracy. We’re fighting for America. We’re saying to those who say they’re patriotic but their turned a blind eye to the destruction that he is about to cause this country, ‘You’re not nearly as patriotic as we are.’
We not only have fought in America’s wars, have stood up for America, have been there whenever this country was threatened in any way. And we say now that this country is threatened with a president who does not belong there, a president who does not understand how this government works, a president who goes down to Mar-a-Lago every weekend and plays golf.
He’s not huddling with the members of Congress and trying to figure out how to form a consensus, but rather, he thought he could come in here and run roughshod over everybody. But that’s how he works. That’s how he acts. He’s not good for America. African-Americans know this.
Bill O’Reilly’s Comments
O’Reilly responded to the comments, not by addressing the substance of it, but by saying Waters was wearing a “James Brown wig” during an appearance on Fox & Friends.
O’Reilly later issued an apology, but many agree it was insufficient.
How I Feel About Those Comments
My thoughts could be summed up by a recent video from The Young Turks.
In this video, The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur and his executive producer Jayar Jackson discuss Bill O’Reilly’s bigoted comments aimed at Rep. Maxine Waters (D).
These two mentioned how Michelle Obama was often called a man while she and her husband were in the White House. And Uygur showed a clip where a southern white beard refused to acknowledge that Michelle Obama was a woman and even told himself the lie that the Obama children were adopted, despite the kids looking so much like their parents.
I will add how I addressed this topic in terms of the Williams Sisters. Those two have been harangued so long and mostly because of the color of their skin. Serena Williams even boycotted a tournament because of how poorly she was treated by spectators.
Why O’Reilly’s Comments Were Damaging
Now, he could have said something about all of Waters’ recent comments, because there are parts of it where you could have a serious debate. Personally, I would like to offer my viewpoint on the Russia angle. This is something I should do by next week, because I have some disagreements with Waters.
But no, O’Reilly hit low and his comments underscore the type of bigot he is. He is already known to give his patented “Dear Black People” speech and he plays toward the bigotry in is viewers.
There are people out there who act like the Williams Sisters (and many black people in general) are a threat to their overall being. And when someone makes comments like he did, it reinforces prejudices and does nothing to further debate.
As Uygur and Jackson argued, what O’Reilly (and his Fox & Friends pals) did served as but another example of how black women are discredited and dismissed. Bigots normally make fun of black women’s looks and portray them as angry and manly instead of addressing the substance of these women’s words and their positions in life.
How Rep. Waters Responded
Well, like Michelle Obama once said, “When they go low, we go high.” And that’s what Waters did.
Chernikoff, Leah and Thomas, Eric R. “Maxine Waters Explains it All…Including That Impeachment Tweet.” Elle. 27 Mar 2017. Web. <http://www.elle.com/culture/news/a44095/maxine-waters-impeachment-tweet/>.
Finley, Taryn. “Proud ‘Auntie’ Of The Resistance Maxine Waters Tells Everyone To ‘Stay Woke’.” The Huffington Post. 6 Mar 2017. Web. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/proud-auntie-of-the-resistance-maxine-waters-tells-everyone-to-stay-woke_us_58bd8717e4b0d2821b4fa5e5>.
Lampen, Claire. “Maxine Waters on Donald Trump: ‘I’m out to get him.’” Mic. 27 Mar 2017. Web. <https://mic.com/articles/172264/maxine-waters-on-donald-trump-i-m-out-to-get-him#.7fh2WClGh>.
Lansbaum, Claire. “Maxine Waters on Why She Decided ‘to Take the Gloves Off and Go for It.’” New York Magazine. 29 Mar 2017. <http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/03/maxine-waters-on-why-she-decided-to-take-the-gloves-off.html>.
MSNBC. “Rep. Maxine Waters: President Trump’s Advisors With Russia Ties Are ‘Scumbags’ | All In | MSNBC.” YouTube. 22 Feb 2017. Video. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CIf7A2CvQs>.
Provenzano, Brianna. “Pulling absolutely no punches, Rep. Maxine Waters called Trump’s entire Cabinet ‘scumbags.’” Mic. 22 Feb 2017. Web. <https://mic.com/articles/169314/pulling-absolutely-no-punches-rep-maxine-waters-called-trump-s-entire-cabinet-scumbags#.G8DYE6Nt3>.
The Politistick. “Maxine Waters: Trump Supporters Are NOT Patriotic.” YouTube. 28 Mar 2017. Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xatbL1dSdLE>.
The Young Turks. “Bill O’Reilly: Black Congresswoman Has ‘James Brown Wig.’” YouTube 28 Mar 2017. Video. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hnEp3gJBrk>.