‘Robin Hood’ delegate feels the hate

America, you’ve just got to pull it together.

In a campaign season that’s been an embarrassing portrayal of we the people from start to finish, what Sean Kehren said in answer to a question from MPR’s Mark Zdechlik in Philadelphia today is a jaw dropper, even by the standards of politics in 2016.

“What is your name and where are you from?” Zdechlik asked, a typical question when starting up the tape recorder to record an interview.

“My name is Sean Kehren,” he said, “and I’m not going to tell you where I live.”

Why not?

Kehren said it was for the safety of his mother, with whom he lives since he graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter in May.

“There’s been a lot of hate directed at me,” said Kehren, whose heroic record in Minnesota we introduced you to yesterday.

Because of this:

Zdechlik, who covers serious news and issues, admitted he hadn’t followed the sudden fame from the memes created online.

Kehren, 22, has had a little more time to digest how he’s been portrayed and while he dismissed it yesterday, today he’s a little more unnerved by the pitchforks of today’s political character assassinations, particularly the meme that suggested he was crying for lost white privilege.

“I am white privileged,” he said. “I’m male. I’m white. I have blonde hair and blue eyes. So I gain privilege from that. But there have been a lot of memes that have made fun of me for being a white elitist, saying that me crying was a result of me not being able to find my privilege and things like that.”

“There are a couple of media outlets who have stood up for me — MPR and a couple of other media outlets who have stood up for me and said, ‘I’m not that Bernie bro who’s just trying to separate the party.'”

Kehren’s experience is shared by thousands of people every day in the world of social media that cannot draw the distinction between what it thinks it knows, and what it actually knows. That the dynamic of willful ignorance has so shaped political discourse this year should be enough to bring tears to everyone’s eyes.

  1. Listen MPR’s Mark Zdechlik interviews DNC delegate Sean Kehren

Listen to Kehren talk about the meaning of watching a woman being nominated for president, and maybe his tears and his concern for the safety of his mother will be a little more clear. And the memes about white privilege will be condemned to the trash of Internet nonsense.

“I don’t really have association with my biological father,” he told Zdechlik. “My mother is the person who raised me. I’ve been raised by women. I’m extremely excited that a woman is going to be president because it’s going to give hope to my mother. I mean, how many white men have been elected president? Forty-three? The forty-fourth is the one who changed the cycle and the forty-fifth will also be another one to give progressive values, show that someone other than a white, male can be elected president.”

Kehren says he tries to mention his mother in every interview he gives. “She’s the only reason why I’m out here,” he said. This is the second time he’s been a Minnesota delegate to a national political convention.

“If you can’t show your emotions and if you have to hide them back, then you’re not being yourself anyway. We have a hyper-masculine ideal of what it is to be a man and me crying is no different. People can laugh at me and make fun of me and it really doesn’t matter to me as long as I felt genuine ideals when I was crying. I’ll back that up for the rest of his life.”

Sean Kehren doesn’t want to tell you where he’s from.

What matters is that he’s a man who’s going places.

  • MrE85
    • Khatti

      Classic!

    • Al

      SOLID.

  • >>What matters is he’s going places.<<

    Damn straight!

  • Mike Worcester

    A couple thoughts:
    1. That he is afraid to say where he is from is a sad testament to how de-evolved we’ve become in the Age of Instant Outrage (yeah I made that up, but it sounded good in my head).
    2. I hope he does go places and is able to remind people the looking before the rhetorically leap is not a sign of weakness.
    3. Real men DO cry. And hug. And laugh. And are compassionate.

    • Jack

      Perhaps if we had more of #3, we would have less problems in this country and world.

  • Anna

    “Kehren’s experience is shared by thousands of people every day in the
    world of social media that cannot draw the distinction between what it thinks it knows, and what it actually knows.”

    And therein lies the rub.

    Will social media subscribers ever tire of figuratively “tarring and feathering” people whose thoughts and ideas don’t mirror their own?

    MPR subscribers are a different breed. They value fair play and civil discourse, the emphasis on civil.

    When I read comments on commercial news sites and blogs, the comments are threatening, vulgar, racist and self-aggrandizing. If the numbers are any indication, we are headed down a slippery slope to anarchy and chaos.

    I’d rather see one man on television crying during a momentous event than a thousand preening themselves over a permit to carry and their 2nd amendment rights.

    I’d like to see a post addressing Mr. Trump’s latest diarrhea of the mouth encouraging the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s email accounts and the DNC.

    Now there’s a prime example of a weak and cowardly man.

    • Khatti

      “Will social media subscribers ever tire of figuratively “tarring and feathering” people whose thoughts and ideas don’t mirror their own?”

      Eventually, but no time soon, and it is the medium–not the behavior the behavior displays–that is new.

  • PaulJ

    Isn’t threatening a crime? Can’t the NSA root out some of this nonsense?
    OTOH, my emotions don’t lead to crying or hugging, and apparently that makes me a bad person.

    • I think he’s more concerned about harassment than violence.

    • jon

      I’ve not heard any one saying that being male and not showing your emotions is bad, only that being a male and showing your emotions is not a bad thing.

      Men have been conditioned (perhaps even breed/evolved) to not show emotions… (Human males have larger drain ducts in their eyes to flush tears away) so people tend to call people names and such when men DO show emotions, just because it’s ok to be different from what you are doesn’t mean it’s no longer ok to be you.

      The idea that you are being attacked because others who are not like you are being told they are OK is strikingly similar to responding to the black lives matter movement by insisting all lives matter…

      • PaulJ

        I’m saying I’m told I’m not OK because I’m not a “sensitive male”; so I guess I’m hearing different things than you. IMO it’d be more analogous to someone saying “middle class lives don’t matter”.

  • Jerry

    Great, now people hate other people for what they imagine they stand for without actually bothering to find out find out what they really think. Stay rational, America.

  • lindblomeagles

    He’s a very good young man, and as I mentioned yesterday, it is very emotional and normal to push for change, only to fall short, and have to wait. That said, Kehren is entirely accurate — Hillary Clinton, though unpopular, made history this week, and if elected President, it will be another historic leap for the United States. Kehren gets it! It’s some of us out here anonymously jeering others that has (and have had) the problem.

  • Blasko

    “Kehren’s experience is shared by thousands of people every day in the world of social media that cannot draw the distinction between what it thinks it knows, and what it actually knows. That the dynamic of willful ignorance has so shaped political discourse this year should be enough to bring tears to everyone’s eyes.” You, sir, are a gem. This is THE educational challenge of the 21st century.

  • Matt

    Slow clap for this one Bob: “social media that cannot draw the distinction between what it thinks it knows, and what it actually knows.”

    I also like description as the Age of Instant Outrage. It shuts down discussion, prevents discourse, and people do not engage in social media circles in discussions that could touch a controversial topic for fear of reprisal, outlash, or in worst case, becoming a “distraction” to their work (who then gets contacted to defend their comments) and losing their livelihood.

    Also, life is more complex to fit into 140 characters of a tweet or a few words of a meme.

    Obama said last night that democracy is not a spectator sport, but when a method of communication is shut down, that democratic engagement and involvement gets more difficult.

  • Al

    This kid gets it, and more. My Gustie pride overfloweth.

    “I mean, how many white men have been elected president? Forty-three? The forty-fourth is the one who changed the cycle and the forty-fifth will also be another one to give progressive values, show that someone other than a white, male can be elected president.”

    Nailed it. This is how you use your privilege to elevate the causes of others. Well done, Sean.