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The Hate Spasm in American Politics

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(NNPA) Speaking at the recent conference of the Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement in Jackson, Mississippi, I constantly ran into questions and comments drawing comparisons to the racial harassment faced by civil workers in the 1960s and what is occurring today. Most said there was very little comparison to the intensity of the racism faced by those who attempted to vote or eat at a lunch counter, and we know that many sacrificed their lives.

Yet it was ironic that these were Congressman John Lewis’ colleagues and he and other Black members of Congress were spit at and called the N… word as they passed by some Tea Baggers on Capitol Hill recently.

The spate of hate crimes that came as President Barack Obama signed the Health Bill into law that has featured shots being fired at Democratic campaign offices and bricks thrown through their windows and other things have a familiar ring to me.

Not the 1960s, but in the Reagan era of the 1980s, and ‘90s the rise of the militia movement found White males arming themselves and practicing in the woods on weekends for some kind of mythical confrontation.

The Branch Davidian cult shoot-out with Treasury Department agents in 1993 at Waco, Texas became their rallying cry against government oppression and interference.

Oddly, the handling of this incident put the government on the defensive and allowed the militia movement to draw Republican member of Congress into the incident on their side. Then the Justice Department backed off.

What we saw then was the creation of unity between native White nationalist operating at the neighborhood level being reflected in their representatives in Congress who opposed government intervention, using this to elevate the right to bear arms as the signal issue in the case.

This union between native White nationalists and public officials and political leaders is still going on and the danger is that they are giving legitimacy to the madness occurring at the base of society.

That is what happens when a Republican member of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, shouts out to the President, “you lie” or when another, Rep. Randy Neugebauger from Texas, shouts “baby killer” as he did at Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan right in the Congress.

Then comes Sara Palin, former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, telling her crowd “don’t retreat reload” as her website features members of congress she wanted to defeat sited on a map in rifle cross-hairs. Words are powerful and these tell the base of the Republican party that it is ok to oppose Democrats by any means necessary.

In this debate, the media shuns the truth because it wants to practice a “both sides do it” theory which absolves them from saying clearly where the hateful rhetoric and thus, the violence, is coming from.

As it was in the Reagan era this is clearly a feature of the radical conservative movement, the base of the Republican party. Yet, the media – and the Richmond Police - - have allowed conservative Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who just happens to be a party a Republican spokesman, to pretend that his office was also shot at in order to keep alive the “both sides” theory.

The fact that bringing those to justice who perpetrated crimes against Blacks in the 1960s is still going on through the “Cold Case” unit of the justice Department means that law enforcement was either lax or non-existent then. Today there is a popular concept that police forces around the country use “Zero Tolerance” policies which they say has been responsible for the reduction of crime in various periods of history.

They believe ”Zero Tolerance” for small infractions of law suppress larger problems.

This Justice Department needs to practice Zero Tolerance against political violence just as it does against neighborhood violence that has locked up to many of our youth. To continue to tolerate such speech and acts of violence only makes it more legitimate.

The major media wants us to believe that this is a “fringe” phenomenon or that it is all about health care. But the death threats and vandalism moving across the country shows us it is more than that. I agree with Frank Rich of the New York Times that it may be about the conjunction of factors such as immigration (read Hispanics), the presence of a Black man in the White House, a female Speaker of the House, a powerful gay man Barney Frank regulating the capitalist system. So, for those whose anger is directed at “taking their country back” it ain’t going to happen, the demographics are against it.

So, buckle up. We may be in for a very bumpy ride as a nation.

Dr. Ron Walters is a Political Analyst and Professor Emeritus of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. One of his latest books is: White Nationalism, Black Interests (Wayne State Univ. Press) rwalters@umd.edu

National Urban League and CBC Call for 'Jobs Surge'

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This week, the National Urban League will join the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in a "jobs surge" hearing on Capitol Hill to listen directly to some of the more than 15 million Americans, a disproportionate number of whom are African American and Hispanic, who are struggling to survive in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Washington's political leaders were quick to respond with drastic "troop surges" when things appeared to be going badly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For months, the National Urban League, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and other civil rights leaders have been calling for a similar "jobs surge," to turn the tide on the unemployment crisis that has been especially damaging to Black America. Unemployment among African Americans is 15.8% and 42% for African American teens as we approach the summer months.

Government must act now because many Americans can no longer wait while Washington drags its feet and offers up lukewarm solutions to this burning crisis. As I have said before, the recently passed $15 billion jobs bill falls woefully short of what is needed to put substantial numbers of Americans back to work. The CBC agrees, and most of its members voted against the measure. We believe that instead of what really amounts to a tax bill that largely benefits small businesses, we need a real jobs bill, containing a combination of direct job creation, workforce training, summer jobs for youth and other strategies that target our hardest hit communities. I carried that message directly to the White House in a February Oval Office meeting with President Obama.

Our communities are reeling from this crisis. That's why I was pleased to accept the CBC's invitation to participate in this week's "jobs surge" hearing.

I have asked citizens who can't attend Wednesday's hearing, to share their Great Recession stories by sending a personal message via email to mystory@iamempowered.com or posting a video on our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/IAmEm poweredVideo. We will try to have as many of your stories heard as possible.

The "Jobs Surge" Congressional hearing occurs one week before the National Urban League takes its relentless push for jobs and empowerment directly to Capitol Hill at our Centennial Legislative Policy Conference. This two-day summit, March 23-25, will provide an opportunity for Urban League officials and volunteers from our more than 100 affiliates to talk directly with Senators and Representatives about the pressing issues affecting the communities we serve - chief among them, the unemployment crisis. During the Conference, we will also release the 2010 edition of our landmark annual publication, The State of Black America.

After 100 years as a leading champion of equal opportunity and empowerment, the National Urban League is more determined than ever to ensure that your voice is heard. To take our empowerment pledge and to find out more, visit www.iamempowered.com.

Marc Morial is president and CEO of fthe National Urban League.

Amidst the Economic Mess New Black Candidates Arise

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Yes, and that is a very blessed thing. The Old Guard seems to be moving slower than ever and the “Party Loyalists” are clamoring for fresh ideas - ideas that they are not receiving from their leadership. The economy is in the tank and all they are concerned with on Capitol Hill is Healthcare.

We had better get involved in business development, deficit reduction, lower costs and taxation. Those are the only things that are going to get us out of our predicament. History will show that as this country teetered on the brink of financial ruin all they could do is hammer out some futuristic Healthcare Plan that makes no sense and will solve nothing.

It is kind of like Nero playing his violin while Rome burned.

In Congressional districts throughout the nation we are seeing new faces challenging those who used to be comfortable candidates. The new breed is challenging them on answers concerning contracting, education, economic development and an end to the housing crisis. The incumbents have to skirmish. We like this. A big surprise came when Congresspersons from everywhere are seeking to be put on the record as probusiness all of a sudden.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is in the Republican Party. There are at least 32 persons vying for Congress this November under the Republican banner.

Wow! There weren’t 32 Black delegates at the last Republican Convention.

Unlike previous Black Republicans like JC Watts, Gary Franks and Ed Brooke who came from predominantly White jurisdictions, these new Black Republicans are jumping into traditional Democratic strongholds like Southside Chicago, Compton/Long Beach, Harlem and other “chocolate districts”.

Times are changing and that is a good thing for all of us.

Of course, this is the first go round for the new Black Republicans and most will probably crash on Election Day but it could mean a good investment for the future. What if 5 of the 32 get elected? That would certainly shake up Congress and the whole political landscape. JC Watts, by himself, mesmerized many with his strong persona and charisma. He single handedly stopped the Republican House from discussing doing away with affirmative action. I remember him saying “until you come up with something better, we are going to leave it alone”. Respectfully, they backed off. Also, so many of these Black farmers are still looking for their settlement money from the lawsuit that was settled back in the 1990’s. JC got all of the Black farmers in his district paid immediately. That’s the kind of leadership the rest of the farmers could use. Maybe more people like JC are coming.

Despite all of the gate keeping at the Democratic National Committee some young up and comers are bursting through. Some career members are just resigning instead of facing the big fight (such as Diane Watson in Los Angeles).

Another thing, the DNC had better put some people of color in high positions the way it used to be or the RNC is going to outshine it. Man! Do we miss the great Ron Brown? Things haven’t been the same since he left us (except for President Obama’s run). There are no Blacks in any kind of powerful position at the DNC and they don’t seem to care. It is as if they are saying “The president is Black what else do you want?” Maybe they are going to find out this November. Meanwhile, the RNC has Michael Steele who is proud of his blackness and is certainly the real boss over there. It is making a difference.

Whatever happens, the new balance of Blackness on both sides of the political landscape should bring more thought and focus on Black economic development. Once we are empowered economically then healthcare, education, etc. will take form. Somehow it has taken us far too long to understand that.

The Obama Administration has blown it. Allowing unions to try and take over our government in a neosocialistic fashion is just plain repulsive to the majority of freedom loving, free enterprise Americans. Those who are actually afraid have justification in that state of mind. Freedom is not free and we are going to have to fight hard to maintain it. Unions have destroyed our schools, jobs, manufacturing prowess and have never opened their doors to construction for Blacks, Hispanics and women. Yet, we have a President who just loves them despite the previous documented facts. Something is wrong and new leaders from both sides are starting to step up - none too soon.

Another big factor in the November elections will be the US Chamber of Commerce. They are going to spend over $200 million on candidates. That is more than the DNC and RNC combined. Get ready, free enterprise will return!

Harry Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

CBC Chairwoman Condemns Racist Incidents During Health Care Protests

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Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement in response to racist and inflammatory incidents during yesterday’s health care protests.

“As the House of Representatives is on the cusp of passing historic health care reform, many opponents of progress have resorted to using racist and inflammatory tactics to express their opposition.

“Two weeks after leading a delegation of members of Congress on a civil rights pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama on the 45th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Rep. John Lewis was accosted while walking with two other CBC members on their way to vote on the House floor.

“Congressman Lewis has since remarked that what he encountered yesterday was reminiscent of what he experienced 45 years ago as a young man marching for freedom for all Americans.

“During the same incident, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was spat on by a protester and on a separate occasion a sexual slur at Rep. Barney Frank.

“For a protester to spit on a public official and hurl hateful epithets is wrong, it speaks to a deeper motivation that has nothing to do with the issues at hand. No one should fan the flames of hatred nor tolerate this despicable behavior which draws from one of the ugliest periods of American history.

“In December, members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a ‘Discussion on Race’ to examine the critical role of race in our society; its scientific, historic, legal and socio-cultural role.

"The incidents yesterday are examples of the unfinished business of America. We cannot sweep race and racism under the rug. Our nation needs and deserves a national dialogue on race.”

Letter to the Editor: Vote of the People

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"As a small business owner and concerned citizen, I am tired of our city leaders making decisions without a vote of the people and forcing us to pay. I just recently heard that several local governments in California are trying to take over private electric businesses— often using eminent domain—and are refusing to let local voters have the final say in the decision, because state law doesn’t require it. That's how I started learning about how Proposition 16 establishes clear two-thirds voter approval requirements before local governments can spend public money or incur public debt to go into the local electricity business.”

Think about it right now---- California’s state and local debt exceeds $145 billion! Our annual state budget deficit is $20 billion or more. 12% of Californians are unemployed.

So, why allow city officials the ability to just up and decide that they can vote to run a business and use taxpayers’ money to buy this business.

It’s truly up to us as taxpayers to manage our own lives and businesses so that the future of our children are not overrun with huge government debts, high unemployment, homelessness and much, much more.

Chad Strickland
Small Business Owner
Los Angeles County

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