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'All Lives Matter,' And Other Offensive Things 2016 Presidential Candidates Have Said About Race

This is why saying things like 'All lives matter' isn't cool.

In recent weeks, there's been some drama over the way some of the 2016 presidential candidates have responded to activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. One phrase that seems to come up again and again -- followed by a swift and especially intense backlash -- is "All lives matter," which seems pretty innocent, at first glance. So why are people so upset about that particular phrase?

Philosopher Judith Butler gave The New York Times a long, thoughtful answer to this question earlier this year. Among her wise words: "It is true that all lives matter, but it is equally true that not all lives are understood to matter. ... If we jump too quickly to the universal formulation, 'all lives matter,' then we miss the fact that black people have not yet been included in the idea of 'all lives.'"

Over the weekend, one Reddit user also gave an insightful explanation of the problem with saying "all lives matter" by using a clever dinner table analogy.

Here are all the need-to-know details about which presidential candidates have been saying what:

  1. Hillary Clinton (Democrat)
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    In June, Hillary Clinton was criticized when she made a visit to a historic black church near Ferguson and said, "All lives matter." One woman in attendance said later, "My children matter. And I need to hear my president say that the lives of my children matter. That my little black children matter. Because right now our society does not say that they matter. Black lives matter. That's what she needs to say."

    Hillary supporters argued that the comment was taken out of context (she was telling a story about her mother when she said it), and pointed out that in the past she has said, "Yes, black lives matter." This week, Hillary has also taken additional opportunities to explicitly say, "Black lives matter."

  2. Donald Trump (Republican)

    Donald Trump has never actually directly addressed the Black Lives Matter movement.

    He has, however, been sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent properties to people of color, and once he allegedly told a staffer he believed that "laziness is a trait in blacks." His recent remarks about Mexicans have also gotten him into hot water.

  3. Martin O'Malley (Democrat)

    Over the weekend, presidential candidate Martin O'Malley responded to Black Lives Matter protesters at a conference by saying, "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter."

    He later apologized for his words, saying, "That was a mistake on my part and I meant no disrespect. I did not mean to be insensitive in any way or to communicate that I did not understand the tremendous passion, commitment and feeling and depth of feeling that all of us should be attaching to this issue.”

  4. Bernie Sanders (Democrat)
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    Bernie Sanders attended the same conference as O'Malley over the weekend, where he was also interrupted by Black Lives Matter demonstrators. He responded, "Black lives of course matter. But I've spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights. If you don't want me to be here, that's okay."

    A Twitter war broke out between supporters and detractors, and as part of that battle, the sarcastic hashtag #BernieSoBlack trended on Sunday. Vox explained, "The civil rights movement references aren't actually an answer to his critics. No one is arguing that Sanders literally doesn't see race, they're saying that Sanders sees racial inequality as less important than economic inequality and shouldn't."

  5. Jeb Bush (Republican)

    During a visit to Detroit back in February, Jeb Bush said, "I would like to see more people marching in the streets for rising student achievement. Less people marching in the streets for things that might be important to them, but rising student achievement should be the highest calling for all of us...”

    The timing of that statement led some to ask whether Bush was taking a dig at Ferguson and other Black Lives Matter protesters.

    During his campaign announcement speech, Bush also said, "Our prosperity and our security are in the balance. So is opportunity, in this nation where every life matters and everyone has the right to rise," prompting one op-ed writer on CNN to suggest, "This may be the closest ANY Republican comes to saying 'Black lives Matter.' This was not a throwaway phrase, it was Bush quietly reaching out to minority voters..."

  6. Everyone else
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    Although there are a whole bunch of other Republican candidates running for president, most of them are keeping notably quiet about the Black Lives Matter movement.

    They're also keeping mostly quiet about issues related to racism in general -- which some view as a statement in itself.