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Sanders campaign hires controversial senior advisor

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Over the weekend, the Sanders campaign announced the hiring of Phillip Agnew, a former national surrogate for Sanders, as a senior adviser to the campaign.

“I am excited to welcome Phillip to our team,” Sanders said in a statement, calling him a “gifted organizer and one of his generation’s most critical voices on issues of race and inequity.”

“He has and will continue to push me and this movement to deliver on what is owed to Black people who have yet to experience reciprocity in this country,” Sanders added.

Agnew confirmed his new role on social media, writing:

i’ve joined the campaign as a senior advisor; accepting the challenges & contradictions

to my friends & comrades: thank you for the love & accountability.

this is a people’s position on a people’s campaign.

We will leave no one behind. That is our promise.

However, Agnew remains a controversial figure, given some of the positions he has publicly taken.

Agnew has, for instance, peddled September 11 conspiracy theories. He once publicly suggested that the United States “killed her own citizens” on September 11, 2001 — the day 2,977 victims lost their lives on American soil.

“Tomorrow America remembers the day that she turned on herself, dismantled her constitution, and killed her own citizens in the name of money,” he wrote ahead of the ninth anniversary of the tragic day:

Agnew also commemorated September 11, 2016, by posting on Instagram a political cartoon by Carlos Latuff showing two boomerangs lodged in the twin towers with the words “U.S. Interventionist Policy.” Latuff placed second in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Competition in 2006. Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), both staunch Sanders supporters, have purportedly shared his work as well.

His controversial history extends beyond remarks on 9/11. In 2015, he authored a piece in Ebony, criticizing former President Barack Obama’s remarks on the existence of a Jewish State.

“There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law,” Agnew quotes Obama as saying. “These things are indivisible in my mind.”

Agnew, however, was not happy with Obama’s assessment, calling Zionism a “racist, exploitative, and exclusionary ideology.”

“In January, I joined a delegation of organizers from the United States in a pilgrimage to Palestine. What I saw there was cold, calculating racism and ethnic privilege masquerading as a Jewish State,” he wrote.

He continued:

There is no direct line from Zionism to the Black Freedom struggle. No rhetorical imagination-acrobatics can conjure one and no amount of intimidation can chart one. It is a racist, exploitative, and exclusionary ideology; its eagerness to attack and silence detractors is only matched by its eagerness to co-opt the struggles of Blacks in this country (by a Black in this country) for its own survival.

Palestinians are far too familiar with lines.  Dotted lines drawn arbitrarily through ancient homelands.  Concrete lines erected through villages, between blood relatives.  Lines of Palestinians waiting at checkpoints.  Cemeteries lined with the bodies of sisters, and brothers, fathers, and mothers.  The political line: “Love for Israel; Hate for Palestinians.”

The Sanders campaign’s press release also touts Agnew’s role in cofounding the activist group Dream Defenders, which put out a manifesto called the “Freedom Papers,” detailing the organization’s radical beliefs and demands. Those include open borders, the elimination of police and prisons, and the end of capitalism.

“Freedom Papers” states that, “by virtue of being born,” people have the “absolute right to adequate food, shelter, clothing, water, health care, effective public transportation, dignified work, living wages, and the right to form unions to protect themselves in the workplace”.

The Sanders campaign has yet to signal any concerns with the senior adviser’s radical positions and views.

“Black people – all Black people – are a central part of our movement. Our platform is about righting what is wrong in this country,” Agnew said in the campaign’s press release.

“Our campaign is inclusive of Black people across age, class, and gender lines. We’ve come a long way and more work to do. I’m excited to continue to grow and amplify the work of our Black organizing department,” he added.

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Contributed by Sean Walton of The Daily Sheeple.

Sean Walton is a researcher and journalist for The Daily Sheeple. Send tips to [email protected]

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