Number 14 - October 17, 2002
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billionaire Bob Johnson's Social Security privatization message is reaching
millions of Black radio listeners through at least two GOP and associated
far right advertising campaigns worth $2.5 million. The larger of the
buys is funded by a Hard Right group associated with white, Christian
As we explored in
our October 3 issue (BET's Black Billionaire Trojan
Horse), Johnson served as George Bush's point-Black on the President's
Commission to Strengthen Social Security, this year, providing an African
American spin for Republican plans to transfer at least part of Social
Security's trillions to Wall Street. Johnson provided Black cover
for the heist - with the added bonus of his nominal affiliation as a
Democrat - by concocting a pitch arguing that Blacks are subsidizing
whites through Social Security contributions - a lie.
Johnson pulled a
similar stunt the previous year, fronting a petition signed by almost
50 wealthy Blacks supporting elimination of the federal Estate Tax,
a levy affecting less than one out of every 200 African American households.
included media owners Earl Graves (Black Enterprise), Thomas Burrell
(Burrell Communications Group), Keith Clinkscales (Vanguard Media),
Barry Cooper (Black Voices.com), Byron Lewis (UniWorld Group), Ed Lewis
(Essence Communications), Alfred Liggins (Radio One) and Alexis Scott
(Atlanta Daily World).
Emboldened by Johnson's
ability to mobilize some of the most vocal members of his tiny class,
the Republican National Committee authorized a $1 million schedule of
anti-Social Security and pro-private school voucher radio messages,
centered on the American Urban Radio Networks. The official GOP campaign
also targets Black markets in the key presidential election states of
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky and Missouri.
of the official GOP apparatus - but well within the circles in which
Johnson and his closest, Hard Right white business associates operate
- is the Council for a Better Government, whose spokesman is Kansas
City Republican activist John Altevogt. The shadowy council is spending
$1.5 million in 12 states to spread the Johnson-inspired message: Arkansas,
Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri,
New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina and North Dakota (!), according
to the Associated Press.
has submitted letters to the editor and written a guest column for
Metro Voice News, a hard core Christian Right political sheet that
calls itself "Kansas City's only local newspaper serving the Christian
Kansas City was
the site of the political season's first broadcast of Republican Social
Security messages aimed at Black radio audiences. That campaign, launched
by GOPAC just after Labor Day, was pulled from the airwaves after public
outcry and under pressure from the Republican National Committee, embarrassed
by the "misleading and offensive" language of the ads. Social
Security, said the pulled version, amounts to "reverse reparations"
- the essential pitch outlined by Johnson when he served on Bush's bogus,
bi-partisan panel. Altevogt's Council for a Better Government campaign
for Black attention appears to be a reincarnation of the GOPAC effort.
Bob Johnson moves
in mysterious ways, his favors to perform.
but saying nothing
applauds the wise counsel of University of Maryland political scientist
Ron Walters, whose analysis, though diplomatically couched, is quite
biting. In a recent column, Dr. Walters wrote of "the emergence
of the view that Blacks are rejecting the 'old'confrontational Black
leaders for 'new' moderate ones. In fact, said Walters, "some Black
leaders are now running from being called 'Black leaders.'"
a crowd of "new" Black leaders at a showcase organized by
Memphis Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., at age 33 the most shameless (and
least bright) Black darling of the Right and the corporate media. (Our
assessment, not Dr. Walters'.) Also in attendance was slickly intelligent
Cory Booker, still searching for a credibly "Black" squat
since being thoroughly exposed as a tool of the Bradley Foundation,
George Bush's favorite political philanthropy.
Readers are encouraged
to take note of the other actors on stage at the "new Black leader"
theater. Dr. Walters wrote:
Ford's panel during CBC weekend featured Artur Davis, who defeated
Earl Hilliard in Alabama; Kendrick Meek, a Florida state legislator
who will succeed his mother, Carrie Meek, when she retires from Congress;
Cory Booker, a Newark, N.J., city councilman who ran against Mayor
Sharpe James; Karen Carter, member of the Louisiana State Legislature;
and Michael Hooks, head of the Memphis School Board. This young group
was supposed to discuss what it meant to "move beyond" the
civil rights legacy, but they ended up affirming it. Nevertheless,
it was clear that Davis will be loyal to Israel when he comes to Congress
and that Cory Booker and Harold Ford Jr. have few objections to school
vouchers. Otherwise, the group sounded like their older colleagues.
Some innocents may
have wandered into this sideshow. But, based on the marquee, all merit
There are several
points to be made regarding Dr. Walters' observations. First, the Bookers
and Fords have nothing to say, only something to sell - their
youngish Black faces - and to sow: media-driven division in the Black
body politic. They dare not violate in clear words the actual Black
Consensus on basic issues of health care, criminal justice, housing,
employment, income disparity, support for public education, and a strong
federal role in overcoming past and present racial discrimination, including
Fully aware that
Black voters will never knowingly elect those who would violate The
Consensus, these Trojan Horses move in stealth; they avoid taking opposing
positions on issues that are dear to the African American electorate,
but are anathema to their rightwing and media supporters. As best they
can, these mercenaries hide their financial sources. To the Black audience,
they present an upbeat posture and attitude - the promise, but never
the substance, of "new" ideas.
To their media and
Hard Right backers, they flash the wink that is perfectly understood:
"Wait until I'm a Black leader. I will create calm."
Or, as Dr. Walters
puts it, "There has been a consistent attempt by the establishment
to create a Black leadership that would be absent on major public policy
issues, that would be non-threatening on the racist treatment of Blacks
and that would not march and raise hell in the 'old' civil rights style
to challenge the system."
Dr. Walters urges
Black America to "maintain the dignity of 'Black leadership' and
The Black and
The meaning of dignity
escapes Harold Ford entirely. Not only is he one of three CBC members
on the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) - the guiding arm of the
party's right wing - he is one of only two Black members of the Blue
Dog Coalition, a capacity in which he helps these 33, southern-based
"moderate-to-conservative" legislators in much the way mascots
assist "their" teams. He makes a spectacle of himself.
(The other Black
and Blue Dog is Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA). Both Bishop and Ford are among
the Four Black Eunuchs who voted with Bush on unilateral war against
Like the DLC, the
Blue Dogs fancy themselves a bridge "between ideological extremes"
- meaning, the positions taken by most of the Congressional Black Caucus,
on the Left, and the most rabid Republicans, on the Right. By his presence
among the Blue Dogs, Ford signals that he is not bound by the Black
Consensus, despite the fact that his safely Democratic seat is 59% Black.
He could vote as "Black" as he wants. He chooses not to.
Ford got 40% of
the white vote in the last election - a level he did not need but fervently
sought. As he angles for a shot at the Senate, Ford cultivates an image
of open-mindedness - in contrast to Black politicians who vote their
community's interests - but he is actually open to anything that will
further his own career. This is politely called opportunism.
In short, Ford is
no credit to the race, and does not want to be. Since he hangs with
Blue Dogs, we feel comfortable applying animal metaphors to Rep. Ford:
he walks like, talks like, smells like... a Trojan Horse.
The Trojan Horse
In our next issue,
we will discuss the Hard Right's flagrant propaganda deployment of "America's
Black Forum," the syndicated television program founded by
publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, 25 years ago. Over the years,
ABF has become the most blatantly rightwing Black-oriented program on
television; indeed, it is in a treacherous class by itself. ABF's producers
are unmistakably in collusion with the most reactionary institutions
on the American political spectrum.
Therefore, we thought
it best to publish the following remarks by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond
in this issue, rather than the next. Bond is a regular commentator
on ABF, but has no role in management and direction of the program.
The same goes for political columnist Juliann Malveux, also an occasional
presence. Both represent progressive window dressing on an aggressively
Bond's remarks are
contained in his speech to the NAACP's convention, in Houston, this
summer. We thought them appropriate for this column, dedicated to rooting
out Black Trojan Horses. First, Bond spoke of the Bush Administration's
assault on civil rights. He continued:
There is an even
wider conspiracy than this - an interlocking network of funders, groups,
and activists, who coordinate their methods and their message.
They are the money,
the motivation, and the movement behind vouchers, the legal assault
on affirmative action and other remedies for discrimination, attempts
to reapportion us out of office, and attacks on equity everywhere.
They've had a
collection of black hustlers and hucksters on their payrolls for more
than twenty years, promoting them as the new generation of black leaders.
They can't deal
with the leaders we choose for ourselves - so they manufacture, promote,
and hire new ones. Like ventriloquist's dummies, they speak in their
puppet master's voice, but we can see his lips move and we can hear
his money talk.
a conservative constellation of make-believe black organizations,
all of them hollow shells with more names on the letterhead than there
are people on the membership rolls.
seats at the table of influence, and they're buying Blacks at a few
bucks a head.
also conduct politics in grotesque blackface on "America's Black
Forum," as we will detail in our October 31 issue.
GOP Courts Traditional
The New Negativism
of "Black Leadership" by Ron Walters
Blue Dog Coalition,
plus Harold's Ford's Black Caucus of One