Silver Rights

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2004  

Politics: Will McKinney get her due?

I wish there was a greater difference between white liberals and white conservatives when it comes to interaction with people of color. But, often, there is very little sense of equality despite the rhetoric of the liberals. Many are just as ensconced in feelings of white privilege as any Bush voter. To them racial equality is an ideal, but not something they want to discomfit themselves with in their day to day living. An article I read about the return of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to Washington reminded me of just how unfair white liberals can be to their nonwhite peers. At CounterPunch, Mark Donham is asking, "Why Do the Dems Want to Deny Her Seniority?"

George Bush has nominated Condoleezza Rice to be his next Secretary of State and Cynthia McKinney has been reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives. For one, I'd love to see Rice go head to head on US foreign policy with Congressowman-elect Cynthia McKinney. But the only way any of us can see that happen is for Cynthia to regain her service and seniority on the House International Relations Committee (HIRC), which has jurisdiction over the State Department and our country's foreign policy. I can't think of any reason why the Democratic leadership wouldn't want this.

And McKinney is perfectly suited to the task. She served on the International Relations Committee for ten years and the Armed Services Committee for four years. She studied International Relations at the University of Southern California and at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She has been accepted into the Berkeley Ph.D. program. McKinney is perfectly positioned by experience and education to raise serious security issues that are on the minds of all Americans today.

In a recent article " Many Rice Defenders Hypocritical," (Madison, WI Capitol Times) John Nichols points out that "right-wing political operatives and their allies in major media--as well as conservative Democrats" battered McKinney to election defeat in 2002 because she dared to ask tough questions about what was known by the Bush Administration prior to the attacks of September 11th. However, January 4, 2005, McKinney will return to Congress, having overcome this opposition with impressive grassroots support, and showing that a successful campaign can be run with little money and lots of heart. With her seniority intact, McKinney will be able to challenge important Bush initiatives because she would resume her seat among the top-tiered Democrats on the HIRC and as the Democrats' highest ranking member on an important HIRC subcommittee. McKinney would also be able to continue her important service on the Armed Services Committee where she questioned select Pentagon contracts with the Carlyle Group, Halliburton, and DynPort; $2.3 trillion in lost Pentagon cash; and the breath-taking Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. This would provide a critical counterbalance to the overly heavy influence of those neo-conservatives that dragged us into the unwise war with Iraq.

The response to McKinney's return to Congress from her district, progressives across the country, individual Members and Congressional staffers has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. The failure of [Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and other Democratic leaders to quickly restore McKinney's seniority suggests that they are out of touch with their constituents, and are bucking history. When Congressional leadership wants to help a congressperson who has reclaimed a lost seat, or even switched parties, they certainly can and have done so.

McKinney (pictured) lost her seat as a result of vilification by conservative Republicans and some Democrats. It was one of those situations in which white people come together to 'fix' an outspoken person of color without much regard to political affiliation. McKinney was falsely accused of having said George W. Bush knew about the terrorist events of 9/11 before they occurred. What she actually said was that the administration should have been aware of the significant potential for successful terrorist actions occurring in the United States sooner than it was. But, like the equally fatuous charge that John Kerry's injuries in Vietnam were self-inflicted, the claim took on a life of its own. Party leaders did little to help McKinney, writing her off as a liability. Another African-American Democrat, Denise Majette, a much more pliable person, was supported as an acceptable replacement. Majette, apparently operating under a delusion that she is much more popular with the Georgia electorate than she is, gave up her seat in the House after one two-year term to run for the Senate. McKinney, tough as nails, fought her way back to Washington.

Now, Mark Donham's question deserves an answer. Why isn't the Democratic leadership striving to return McKinney to the positions she earned through years of service? The answer, if honestly given, would be that she is a black person who does not know her place. And, that, readers, shows just how little difference there is between the parties when a person of color's right to autonomy is the issue.

posted by J. | 11:45 PM

Monday, December 20, 2004  

Opinion: Part 2: What's wrong with Ron Wilson

If Ron Wilson's appointment to the State Board of Education was meant to be a stealth effort to have the neo-Confederate movement influence education policy, it has failed. His true views are too well-known in South Carolina for the maneuver to go unremarked. Wilson's hometown paper is among those calling him out. The Anderson Independent-Mail has seen right through the bullfeathers Wilson flutters in his defense.

We don't believe Mr. Wilson, who was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in the Republican primary, has the qualifications or the polish to represent Anderson and Oconee counties in any state post.

As no one could have escaped noticing during the primary, Mr. Wilson has little regard for public schools and supports taxpayer support for private education. In our view, he is unqualified to even discuss public education with any acumen, much less have a say in its direction or definitions statewide.

Wilson seems to have forgotten that he revealed how extremist he is during his pathetic run for the U.S. Senate just months ago.

Home schooling or sending children to segregated private schools is the ideal for members of the neo-Confederate movement. I haven't learned where Wilson's daughters received their childhood education, but, predictably, they went to college at Bob Jones University. Wilson's own education stopped at high school. His business experience is limited to selling neo-Confederate memorabilia and coins in a small shop and on the Internet. Even if he were not a person dedicated to dividing society, there is nothing to recommend him as an addition to a body that requires knowledge of, if not expertise in, pedagogy.

Reporters at the Anderson Independent-Mail looked into the selection process and found several problems. Among other things, two qualified educators who had been nominated for the seat on the state education board were ignored, while Wilson's last minute nomination was approved.

Ron Wilson has whined 'I'm not a racist' on cue. But, anyone who knows the definition of racism -- the belief that some people are superior to others based on race --and Wilson's life story, knows he is. Wilson keeps repeating a claim he apparently thinks will prevent people judging him accurately. He says he has sold a book about black educator Booker T. Washington on his web site. What he does not say is that Washington was a supporter of segregation, which means there is a reason for a segregationist to approve of him. His other efforts at deniability are also sneaky, but easy for a knowledgeable person to penetrate. He makes quite a ruckus about not being a current member of several racist organizations. But, membership is known only to those inside these groups. Even if Wilson is not a member by his definition of the term, he has played a leadership role in just about every neo-Confederate organization, including chairing the South Carolina Heritage Commission. The heritage commissions are quite similar to the Ku Klux Klan, and sometimes overlap in membership.

The shenanigans surrounding Ron Wilson's appointment provide excellent reasons to withdraw it without reaching the tawdry heart of the matter. South Carolinians would be wise to take advantage of a pregnant opportunity to undo this mistake.

posted by J. | 10:15 PM