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7/15/01


 

RACISM AND COWARDICE

By David Podvin

Republican Senate leader Trent Lott has called for an Internal Revenue Service review of the N.A.A.C.P. Lott insists that the group is an “arm of the Democratic National Committee”, and should lose its tax-exempt status.

To understand why the racists in the Republican Party are determined to destroy the N.A.A.C.P., you need only look back to the week before the 2000 election. Many polls showed that Bush had a seven to ten point lead. The National Rifle Association was preparing a massive get-out-the-vote drive that was expected to sink Gore in the Midwest. Almost all of the pundits were predicting an Electoral College landslide for Bush. The G.O.P. candidate was so overconfident that he spent the last day of the campaign on an ill advised journey to California, trying to run up the score instead of focusing on more closely contested states.

One day later, George W. Bush had lost the election. He was ultimately able to steal the presidency, but the Election Day shocker left Republicans traumatized. What the hell had happened?

Having reviewed the results, they now know. The N.A.A.C.P. happened. Despite all the ignorant braying by pundits about how blacks didn’t really like Gore, and about how blacks would never support a ticket with a Jew on it, and about how blacks were overcome by apathy, there was a hugely successful voter drive by the N.A.A.C.P. that resulted in a stunning increase in the African American vote.

And that’s just counting the ballots that the Republicans were not able to disqualify through illegal machinations. It does not include the tens of thousands of blacks who were unlawfully removed from the voter rolls in Florida, or the countless others across America who were turned away from polling places by Rehnquist-style G.O.P. thugs.

The N.A.A.C.P. was the hero of the 2000 campaign. Chairman Julian Bond and President Kweisi Mfume organized and executed the most effective voter mobilization effort in the history of the country. They made the Democratic Party competitive. They pulled Al Gore into the lead. They helped elect Democratic Senators across the country, especially in tight races like Michigan and Washington. They made a huge difference in House races, and in state and local contests.

They were a Republican nightmare come true.

As a result, they must now be destroyed.

Who better to begin the jihad than Senator Trent Lott? He is an unapologetic member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a pro-slavery group that believes America’s biggest problem is “race mixing”. Guess whom they want to remove from the mix?

Lott is also a member of the Council For National Policy. This organization is the Klan in pinstripes, a supposedly respectable group of conservative activists. But, as with everything that Trent Lott touches, the C.N.P. reeks with the stench of racism. It honored Dinesh D’Souza, who has authored books that explain why blacks are inferior. Its members include many racists, including R.J. Rushdooney, who teaches his followers that the enslavement of black people is God’s will. Not was God’s will. Is God’s will.

Trent Lott refuses to associate with liberals because he disagrees with them. He chooses to associate with R.J. Rushdooney.

You would think that this would make him an irresistible target to counterattack when he declares war on this nation’s premier civil rights organization.

You would be naïve.

The mainstream media has long been extremely comfortable with Trent Lott and his bigoted fellow travelers. A P.B.S. documentary showed Governor George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door to prevent blacks from integrating the University of Alabama. Wallace was next seen receiving a warm and fraternal reception at the National Press Club in Washington. Ronald Reagan, who is revered by the corporate press to the point where dissenting views of him are not tolerated, kicked off his 1984 reelection campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. This was a place renowned for only one significant historical event: the K.K.K. slaughter of three civil rights workers. The symbolism was not too subtle for the Klan to perceive; they immediately responded by endorsing Reagan for reelection.

The media will not rally to defend the N.A.A.C.P. against Lott’s racism, because human beings do not confront positions with which they agree.

That leaves it up to the Democratic Party to do battle with Lott.

God help us.

The Democratic Party stood gutlessly by while the Republicans legally maneuvered to exclude African American votes in Florida. Even when witnessing the politician’s lifeblood - their own voters - being eliminated, the gutless Democrats failed to respond. The same was true when the Congressional Black Caucus sought to get one (1) Democratic Senator to support their challenge to stop the illegitimate inauguration of George W. Bush.

Fifty Democratic Senators – fifty cowards.

Of course, there’s more to it than that. The Democrats have done a cost/benefit analysis and have come to the rationally immoral conclusion that they can take the black vote for granted. After all, in 2000, the Democrats were only really promising the African American community one thing – that Democrats would not govern with the racist malice of Republicans. That was good enough to generate a huge groundswell of black support, so why should calculating politicians promise more than is necessary in order to get their votes? The thinking is this: Why alienate racist blue collar voters who are receptive to the Democrats’ economic message by appealing to African Americans who are going to vote Democratic anyway?

It is a calculation that is too clever. The biggest cache of available votes exists among the vast number of Americans who choose not to participate because they don’t see a political party that is deserving of their support. They need to be shown that the Democrats stand for something admirable.

The ideal starting point is to immediately stand up to Lott. The Democratic Party, from Chairman Terry McAuliffe on down, should land on this racist demagogue like a ton of bricks. They should announce that they will not tolerate his cynical attack on the N.A.A.C.P. They should declare that their top legislative priority is to insure all Americans have the right to vote and have their votes counted. They should demand that the budget includes the nine billion dollars that are necessary to guarantee that every precinct in America has state of the art optical scanning voting equipment. They should explain that, if spending hundreds of billions of dollars on munitions is justified in order to protect democracy, then spending nine billion dollars on reliable voting machines is justified in order to have democracy.

Al Gore was so afraid of being perceived as “too pro-black” by white suburbanites that he silently watched as his most loyal constituency in Florida was cheated out of their right to vote. If the Democrats want to become the majority party - if they want to deserve to become the majority party - than this kind of cowardice must end.

Democrats must be willing to risk losing the votes of those who are hostile to African Americans. They must be willing to pay a price in order to do the right thing. From a moral standpoint, Democrats must be willing to unflinchingly fight Lott and the other G.O.P. racists who want to gain electoral advantage by depriving minorities of equal access to the ballot box. From a self-serving standpoint, Democrats need to sober up and realize that abandoning your core constituency is not really the shrewd thing to do.

If the Democrats just do what’s right, then they might be surprised to find that taking a principled stand against racism is not the electoral poison that they fear it to be.

This is not a black issue. Those of us who are white and who vote Democratic have everything to lose when our political allies are deprived of their rights. If African Americans in Florida had been allowed to vote without interference from scheming Republican bigots, then the White House would now be the residence of a man whose I.Q. exceeds the speed limit.

Vernon Johns was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s predecessor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Reverend Johns said that, in America, “it’s always nigger hunting season”.

It’s time for the Democratic Party to declare that season is permanently closed.

More David Podvin

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