Friday, July 16, 2010

Shame on the NAACP

Gary Fouse

As predicted, the NAACP, the once-proud civil rights organization, went ahead and played racial politics at their convention this week in Kansas City by issuing a (somewhat watered-down) proclamation calling on the Tea Party to cull its ranks of racists. Their head, Benjamin Jealous, "quoted" the recent Capitol Hill demonstration where black congressmen and women were allegedly called the n-word-even though no video of the incident can corroborate that claim. By choosing this low road, the NAACP has shown that it is no longer a credible civil rights organization, rather an arm of the democratic party.

Instead of getting on the public soapbox, would it not have been better for the NAACP to have organized a closed door meeting with leaders of the Tea Party or at least those people considered to be most influential within the Tea Party? Everybody could have aired their complaints, discussed the controversial incident, and come up with some sort of agreement or understanding that would act to unite-rather than divide our people. Perhaps, they could have even had that "long-awaited" public discussion about race that Eric Holder was talking about last year when he said America was a "nation of cowards" when it came to the racial issue. Speaking of Eric Holder, where's he been lately in the wake of all this New Black Panther Party controversy out of Philadelphia? Perhaps, he has joined his own Witness Protection program. At any rate, the NAACP chose the low road preferring to talk about "racist elements" within the Tea Party-elements they cannot document. Even if some fringe individuals were to be discovered showing up to a Tea Party rally, how can one condemn an entire movement because of the presence of a few kooks who happen to show up?

The NAACP has also been linked to reported efforts to have the Obama administration and the Justice Department drop all charges against the New Black Panther Party in the Philadelphia case-which was done. Had they any credibility, the NAACP would have urged prosecution to show their true commitment to voting rights since, historically, that was one of their main grievances in the days of Jim Crow. It would have demonstrated their commitment to the principle that the law works equally for all.

I also find it interesting that defenders of the action taken by the Justice Department have resorted to two tactics; first, to minimize the incident and claim that no actual harm was done; that it was an isolated incident, and that the NBPP is a tiny fringe group made up of kooks. (A tiny fringe group that has acted as bodyguards for that other famous kook, Cynthia McKinney, former congresswoman from Georgia.) The other tact is to attack J. Christian Adams as a disgruntled conservative and Bush supporter-without addressing his allegations. Now comes 24-year-old Newsweek writer David A Graham with an op-ed in which he also describes Adams and two other figures in this saga as...


It's a Perry Mason moment, folks.

The larger question which the media, Congress and yes, the NAACP should address is the alleged (informal) policy of the Justice Department not to prosecute civil rights violations if the victim is white and the perpetrator is black as in Philadelphia. This is a question that Deputy Attorney General Thomas Perez and Holder should be asked about before Congress under oath. It's also a question that White House officials who were present at any reported meetings on this topic should be asked under oath. Who might that be? We can start with Dep. Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, who actually signed off on the decision to kill the Panther case. White House visitor logs show that he had some meetings during the spring with Dep. White House counsel Cassandra Butts which coincided with the legal developments in the case. Of course, we have no record of what was discussed in those meetings, but I am confident that Mr. Perrelli and Ms. Butts can clear that up to the satisfaction of all...under oath.

President Obama came to office hailed as the "post-racial president", the man who was going to unite us all. Instead, he and his adminisitration have badly divided the American people up to now along ideological lines. Now that divide is taking a dangerous racial turn as it appears increasingly apparent that he, Holder and others like the NAACP prefer to play racial politics at a time when we need it least.

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