Sen. Kamala Harris Brings Up Slavery, Jim Crow, Lynchings at a Hearing on Russian Meddling

By Susan Jones | August 2, 2018 | 8:20am EDT
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) (Photo: Screen capture/C-SPAN)

( - The "American family" has enough "fissures" without allowing the Russians to exploit them, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) told an intelligence committee hearing on Wednesday.

The hearing focused on the use of social media by to spread misinformation and "sow discord," as it is frequently phrased.

Harris made the point that Russia in 2016 not only tried to interfere in free and fair elections, but also to shake "our very American identity."

I often say that we as Americans, no matter our race, religion or region, have so much more in common than what separates us.

And among what we have in common is a love of country and a belief that we as Americans should solely be responsible for the choosing of our elected leaders and the fate of our democracy and who will be the President of the United States.

And I think of us then as being a large and diverse family -- the American family. And like any family, we have issues and fissures that are legitimate and run deep and provoke potent reactions.

We have a history of slavery in this country. We have a history of Jim Crow, of lynchings, of segregation and discrimination. And indeed, we have a lot to do to repair and to recover from the harm of the past and some harm that continues today.

But let's be clear, someone else came into our house -- into the house of this country, the family of who we are as Americans.

And they manipulated us, and they are an adversary and they provoked us and they tried to turn us against each other. The Russian government came into the house of the American family -- and manipulated us.

And we must take this seriously in that context, and understand that when we debate, as we did in 2016, one of the most important debates that we have -- which is who will be the leader of our country -- the Russians exploited our nation's discourse to play to our deepest fear.

Harris called for stronger cybersecurity measures.

And she said the American public needs to be told "who is sowing hate and division among us" so they can identify it and see it for what it is -- "an attempt to exploit our vulnerabilities for the purpose of weakening our country and our democracy."

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