Tuesday’s Democratic debates allowed leading candidates—including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—to go head-to-head on health care, climate change, and more. While outlets declared Warren and Sanders the standouts, self-help guru Marianne Williamson became the surprise focal point of conversations online.
During her last debate performance, whatever attention Williamson got was attributed to her, uh, eccentric answers on serious political matters. (At one point, she referred to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “girlfriend.”) However, her second appearance won her some actual, legitimate praise. Last night she referred to Trump as a "dark psychic force." She also made a cogent, passionate argument for reparations in black communities for the crimes of slavery. Slate called Williamson's take "the clearest—and best—answer" on the topic.
"Well, first of all, it’s not $500 billion in financial assistance. It’s a $200 to $500 billion payment of a debt that is owed," she began in her response last night. Then she launched into some of the numbers behind "the economic gap between blacks and whites in America" that comes "from a great injustice that has never been dealt with."
"That great injustice has to do with the fact there were 250 years of slavery followed by another 100 years of domestic terrorism. What makes me qualified to say $200 to $500 billion? I’ll tell you what makes me qualified. If you did the math of the 40 acres and a mule, given that there were 4 to 5 million slaves at the end of the Civil War—they were all promised 40 acres and a mule for a family of four. If you did the math today, it would be trillions of dollars. And I believe that anything less than $100 billion is an insult, and I believe that $200 to $500 billion is politically feasible today, because so many Americans realize there is an injustice that continues to form a toxicity underneath the surface," she said.
Online, people applauded her directness. By Wednesday morning, media reported that she had been the most-searched candidate during the broadcast. Memes piled up on Twitter, casting her as a peaceful left-field force. Others simply pointed out that she had a good showing.
"Marianne Williamson & Beto for Reparations. She gets another huge applause. I know people might not like hearing it, but Williamson is having a good night. Doesn't mean she's a good candidate, just saying she's having good night. She seems comfortable and confident," one person tweeted.
However, despite her performance, some social media users urged new fans to take note of Williamson's damaging comments in the past about vaccines and mental health. (She once said antidepressants were overprescribed for issues of “normal human despair” and backtracked after "misspeaking" about what she had said were "draconian" vaccines.)
"I don’t want to be a downer, but Marianne Williamson is genuinely dangerous and bad. She has said that people should get off their antidepressants and railed against vaccines—ideas that can literally kill people," Vox correspondent German Lopez reminded the internet.
Some Twitter users also warned against celebrating "meme-worthy" candidates and pointed out that treating dangerous beliefs with humor led to the rise of President Donald Trump.
"Marianne Williamson is dangerous. Stop treating her like a joke, a meme, a piece of entertainment," one person wrote on Twitter. "This will go too far. Trump was just a joke once too."
The next Democratic debate is scheduled for July 31.
Originally Appeared on Glamour