Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Saturday, March 22, 2003  

Doing the right thing

Doing the right thing can result in losing a position one holds dear. That happened to two of three men who will be honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award May 12. Former Govs. Roy Barnes of Georgia and David Beasley of South Carolina lost their reelection contests at least partly as a result of opposing Confederate symbols and what they represent.

Beasley, a Republican, angered South Carolina conservatives by proposing to move the Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse. The legislation failed, and Beasley later blamed the flag issue for his 1998 defeat.

Barnes, a Democrat, was voted out of office in 2002 after he pushed through changes to his state's flag. The new flag reduced the Confederate emblem, which had dominated the flag, to a small insignia.

The neo-Confederate movement has taken credit for the ousters of Beasley and Barnes and is now threatening the current governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, and Missouri Gov. Bob Holden.

The third recipient of the Kennedy award will be a former Georgia state representative.

[Dan] Ponder, whose ancestors owned slaves and fought for the Confederacy, delivered an impassioned speech on a hate-crimes bill on the Georgia House in March 2000.

In it, he recounted his shame over a childhood rejection of his black housekeeper. The measure passed overwhelmingly.

Note: This item has been published at Sisyphus Shrugged.

posted by J. | 5:58 PM

Mississippi Goddam

The phrase "moral equivalence" is used so much in the blogosphere that it is becoming trite. However, in these times of danger and despair, it bodes well for us to fisk the Right's claims of liberal malfeasance as often as is necessary to prevent further deception of the public. Earlier this month, conservatives claimed a moral equivalence between the behaviors of possible anti-Semite Rep. James Moran (Dem-VA) and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, a lifelong segregationist and obstructionist to civil rights. The Republican could teach the Democrat a thing or two about deep-seated bigotry in my opinion. This piece from the watch, called "Mississippi Goddam," explains why.

posted by J. | 5:29 PM

Leaders or losers?

Frankly, despite longtime interests in civil rights, journalism and law, I had never heard of Issues & Views until I came across it while browsing theWall Street Journal's excreable Opinion Journal web site the other day. How could a site touching on all three topics, and supposedly staffed by African-Americans, have eluded me for years, months or however long it has been published? Well, it eluded me the same way the African American Republican Leadership Council did. And, both Issues & Views and the AARLC eluded me the same way BOND mostly has.

The AARLC had seldom been seen or heard from until Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott's meltdown last December. Then, a young African-American man stepped forward to declare Lott had done nothing offensive and the embarrassing situation was a plot by the Democrats. That person was one Kevin L. Martin of D.C. and thereabouts. Martin's yammering on the tube and in the newspapers made Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten curious, so he examined the AARLC's web site.

Still, it left me with a question. So I phoned the man identified as the group's political spokesman, Kevin L. Martin. Kevin had been quoted in the media a great deal in December, offering the opinion that Lott was railroaded and should be forgiven.

I told him that I enjoyed the site, but found myself puzzled by only one thing.

"What's that?" he asked.

"The African American Republican Leadership Council," I said, "does not appear to feature African Americans."

Weingarten found himself answerless after much dissembling by Martin, who among other things, denied there was anything wrong with the absence of black people and black interests from the AARLC. All he was able to find were a couple African Americans allegedly affilated with the group. After he observed none of the candidates endorsed by the group was a member of a racial minority, Martin told Weingarten there was no reason the AARLC should support black Republican candidates for office, despite its name. The only blacks involved with the AARLC, other than Martin, turned out to be two who were themselves unaware of their alleged role as advisors.

Except for his amusing and bemusing presence at the reactionary and often racist Free Republic, Kevin Martin has pretty much faded from sight along with with his hero, Trent Lott, but not before a thorough virtual shellacking by Atrios.

BOND (Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny) is thevehicle of Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. The 'group' is regularly and approvingly mentioned at far Right venues, such as conservative web logs, including Amish Tech Support, Alley Writer Yack and North Georgia Dogma. (The proprietor of the last site says he is just joshin' when he speaks approvingly of reactionary black 'leaders.' Your correspondent suspects otherwise.) Peterson's web site says:

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is the most articulate, outspoken critic of the civil-rights establishment in America today. Often referred to as "the other Jesse" and "the antidote to Jesse Jackson," Rev. Peterson is the author of the "National Day of Repudiation of Jesse Jackson" event. As Rev. Peterson likes to say, "It looks like I have a job for life!" Rev. Peterson is also the man behind the Boycott of the NAACP, believing the organization to be nothing more than a tool of the "elite, socialist" Democratic Party.

An apt description in this writer's opinion. Peterson seems so obsessed with Jesse Jackson one cannot help but suspect he wants to be Jackson instead of the yapping Chihuahau at his well-shod heels. Other than a claim of sponsoring an after school tutoring program for black boys (yes, males only) there is little evidence Peterson does anything likely to improve the lives of the population he claims to represent.

Issues & Views is another one of those strange 'African-American' entities. Touted as a "Forum for dissidents, conservatives, and plain old mavericks," who happen to be black by the Opinion Journal, it also suffers from a paucity of both people and content. Its writers include editor Elizabeth Wright, one of the few commentators of color to regularly appear at neo-Confederate sites, talk show gadfly Larry Elder and the contemporary George Schuyler, Thomas Sowell. Oddly, Google lists no news coming from this supposed news site. The front page of Issues & Views describes the stances of its supporters.

While factions on both the left and right continue their assault on the founding principles of the Constitution, we stand firm for:

•Freedom of Speech by opposing censorship and the overt and subtle bans on "politically incorrect" opinions;

•Opposition to "Hate Crime" laws that are designed to protect subsets of citizens who are considered "more equal" than others;

•Freedom of Association by supporting school choice and opposing forced busing and other unconstitutional coercions;

•Property Rights by supporting the Second Amendment, opposing restrictive environmental regulations, and opposing "discrimination" lawsuits that have become tactics to plunder businesses for sums of money and other rewards.

The list includes none of the issues African-Americans express concerns about in public opinion polls or by the officials they elect, of whom fewer than 100 are Republicans, at all levels and nationwide.

In addition to reactionary political views and alienation from the demographic they claim to represent, organizations such as AARLC, BOND and Issues & Views share the commonality of infusions of Right Wing money. The lackluster Issues & Views received funds from the Olin Foundation and is likely subsidized by the WSJ. Peterson earns much of his income from commentary on talk radio and appearances and speeches to conservative gatherings. The almost staffless African African Leadership Council appears to be an arm of the public relations division of the national Republican Party. It may also receive a share of the funds being distributed to black conservatives by groups that favor 'school choice' including the white supremacist Pioneer Institute. The goal of the privitization movement seems to be undermining public education, while pretending to be offering parents more control over their children's schooling.

Individuals and groups so at odds with the needs and aspirations of most African-Americans are not truly 'black leaders.' They are simply window dressing for the interests of white conservatives.

posted by J. | 3:28 PM