NEW ORLEANS—"Don't let anybody take our flag from us," Democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris urged an audience in New Orleans on Friday, Aug. 3. The California senator was pushing back against what she sees as a tendency on the left to cede patriotism to opponents on the right.
She was speaking at the 2018 gathering of Netroots Nation, a conference that draws liberal and progressive bloggers, politicians and grassroots activists together in a different city each year.
Referring to Russia's attack on the 2016 election as an act of "cyber warfare," Harris urged Americans to "speak truth" about hate in America. "Check it out: The Russians know that truth," Harris said. "The Russians know racism and other forms of hate have always been America's Achilles heel, and we need to deal with that weakness."
Still, she insisted, America is "better than this," referring to Trump administration policies such as its ban on immigration from majority Muslim countries, its rollback of rights for LGBT people and its immigrant family separation policy. Harris, who in 2016 became only the second African American woman ever elected to serve in the U.S. Senate, appealed to the Deep South city's past to make her case.
"I know we are better than this, because 13 years ago, New Orleans was underwater, and the initial response was appalling," she said. "Katrina exposed a shocking level of racism and neglect but, ultimately, Americans of every race, religion and background came together to bring this city back to life."
"I know we are better than this because, less than 60 years ago, about four miles up the road, Ruby Bridges needed federal marshals to escort her to school," Harris said, referring to the civil rights activist who, as a 6-year-old child, faced abuse and harassment when she became one of the first African American