WASHINGTON, D.C. – The image of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) huddled up in his jacket and colorful knit mittens in an attempt to keep warm at President Joe Biden’s inauguration has been the subject of an enduring (and endearing!) viral meme ever since, and one that has since been used to fundraise nearly $2 million to date for various charities. You’d think that one would be hard-pressed to find anything wrong with such a wholesome, heartwarming situation, yes?
Well, one San Francisco teacher would disagree with you.
In an op-ed written for the San Francisco Chronicle, public high school teacher Ingrid Seyer-Ochi instead maintains that the very sight of Sanders wearing a Burton snowboarding jacket and wool mittens – made by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis, who is using them to fundraise for LGBTQ and animal causes – symbolizes “privilege, white privilege, male privilege and class privilege.”
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Seyer-Ochi claimed that she spoke with her students about Sanders, and that they also were allegedly “upset” by Sanders’ fashion sense and what it represented, which apparently wasn’t a 79 year-old man with heart problems simply struggling to keep warm on a cold, rainy day.
“What did they see? They saw a white man in a puffy jacket and huge mittens, distant not only in his social distancing, but in his demeanor and attire,” she said. “What did I see? What did I think my students should see? A wealthy, incredibly well-educated and-privileged white man, showing up for perhaps the most important ritual of the decade, in a puffy jacket and huge mittens. I don’t know many poor, or working class, or female, or struggling-to-be-taken-seriously folk who would show up at the inauguration of our 46th president dressed like Bernie.”
“Sen. Sanders is no white supremacist insurrectionist,” Seyer-Ochi added, while failing to mention that Sanders is, in fact, Jewish. “But he manifests privilege, white privilege, male privilege and class privilege, in ways that my students could see and feel.”
In addition to the negatives of judging someone solely by their appearance, Seyer-Ochi neglected to say in her op-ed if she discussed Sanders’ upbringing in a working-class Brooklyn family, his history of civil rights activism (a cause he was even arrested for), or the fact that he has turned his inauguration meme into a merchandising/fundraising tool that has raised over $1.8 million for charities such as Meals on Wheels, Feeding Chittenden, the Vermont Parent Child Center Network, the Chill Foundation, the Bi-State Primary Care Association, and senior centers.
Responses to Seyer-Ochi’s article were highly negative, with writer Laura Bassett tweeting, “What fresh hell is this take, I don’t even understand. The dude wore mittens and a big coat because it was cold and then he turned around and raised a ton of money for charity.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald also chimed in, tweeting, “What a stupid and appalling article: all based on how Bernie dressed. As stupid and gross as it is, it represents a large and growing sector of left-liberal thought.”