We have entered a new epoch, facing the same enemy with new and dangerous designs.

The most critical task facing Black political activists is to identify, expose and defeat Black Trojan Horse electoral candidates. They must be identified early, before money and media have provided them with credibility within and beyond the Black electorate. We have the capacity to expose them thoroughly, through rigorous research and relentless deployment of our own media and institutional resources. At every opportunity, they should be confronted directly and without civility, thus demonstrating our outrage at their activities. These men and women must be ostracized from the political life of the community.

We have a plan.

Events of the past year have demonstrated that the Black political movement is vulnerable to surrogate candidates in electoral contests in which African Americans are a majority or near-majority.

This challenge is funded and directed by the Hard Right. It is a new and ominous threat, intended to destabilize existing Black leadership and, ultimately, destroy independent Black political action. Moreover, it is clear that African Americans will be confronted by this determined strategy for the foreseeable future and with escalating intensity.

The Cory Booker mayoral candidacy in Newark was both a test and herald of the Hard Right's New Black Strategy. Although Mayor Sharpe James was not ousted from office, the closeness of the contest and the effectiveness of the financial and other resources brought into play on Booker's behalf, encouraged ultra-conservatives to believe that the new approach is practical and promising.

In quick succession and with great fanfare, Right-funded challengers defeated two Black congresspersons: Representatives Earl Hilliard (D-AL) and Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). Although right-wing Zionists played the most public role in these campaigns, the same political apparatus that was at the center of the Booker bid in Newark, provided organizational, media and financial muscle in Alabama and Georgia.

The Hard Right's own propaganda machinery, through its think tanks, has from the beginning described the three contests as linked enterprises, with promises of more to come. These enemies of independent Black action are hard at work in the African American political heartland, seeking to groom new candidates. It is from within the Democratic Party that the next Black Trojan Horses will emerge.

Trojan Horses, who are creations of our historic enemies, should find no comfort zone in Black America. But first, we must identify them. By design, these are stealth candidacies. However, the tools to strip away the façade are readily at hand. Determined people can overcome the schemes of wealth.

Genesis of the strategy

The New Black Strategy was first implemented through the political network centered on the Bradley Foundation, of Milwaukee, which is author of much of the Republican Party's social policy positions and funds the network's most aggressive think tanks: Manhattan Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institute, Hudson Institute and other, satellite outfits. Bradley works closely with the Olin Foundation, the Walton Family Fund, the Scaife Foundation and other, traditional bankrollers of right-wing causes.

As political organs, these foundations are capable of causing many millions of dollars of cash contributions and other vital electioneering resources to be funneled into targeted contests. They are also extremely influential among the mass media.

Previously, these foundations' direct, Black-related activities were largely limited to funding compliant African American academics, and to subsidizing single-person front organizations such as Ward Connerly's California operations and Robert Woodson's Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Attempts to legitimize Black Republican vehicles such as the Center for New Black Leadership proved ineffective among the Black populace at-large.

However, the campaign for school vouchers, under the direction of the Bradley Foundation, introduced white conservatives to the possibilities of grassroots and electoral action under non-partisan cover in the heart of urban America. The Hard Right had found an issue that, if generously financed, would make available to it significant numbers of potential minority office-seekers and ambitious local activists. These "stealth" candidates and operatives would not be burdened with the Republican taint.

Cory Booker, an obscure city councilman and nominal Democrat, emerged from the pro-voucher crowd, where he caught the attention of the Bradley network, which put together the sophisticated machinery and massive funding for his mayoral campaign.

In the interim, George Bush captured the White House. The Bradley Foundation and other Hard Right funders, who had functioned as the brains of the Bush-Cheney wing of the Republican Party, were in position to shape national policy. Vouchers and faith-based initiatives, both skillfully marketed to create constituencies among African Americans, became top domestic priorities of the Bush administration. Both "movements" were invented with Bradley Foundation money.

The Hard Right now had its ducks in a row: They prepared to tap billions from the federal treasury to build conservative Black constituencies through vouchers and faith-based programs. Meanwhile, the cultivation of stealth, Trojan Horse candidacies within the Democratic Party would provide a mercenary core of African American officeholders who could be advertised as credible, alternative "leadership."

Where Black Republicanism had failed miserably, Black stealth Democrats are poised like a knife aimed straight at the heart of the Black consensus.

The victories in Alabama and Georgia - and near-success in Newark - further emboldened the Hard Right. In the mass media arena, they have achieved unqualified success; the corporate press have adopted the Bradley Foundation-inspired analysis of Black America as their own. African Americans, the media declare, are deeply divided on critical issues - especially vouchers - and no longer owe allegiance to a "civil rights-oriented" agenda. By extension, historically influential Black organizations no longer "represent" African Americans, particularly the middle class. Black office-holders are hopelessly out of touch with their constituents, while conservative Blacks are numerous and growing.

Unless the broad ranks of Black political office-holders, activists, and influencers join in loud and vigorous rejection of the Trojan Horses among us, the Black electorate will also come to believe the Right's hype. This, of course, would signal the end of Black consensus-driven political activity as we have known it.

Not the same old right-wing

It is important to stress the attitudinal change within right-wing ranks that has made possible the emergence of their New Black Strategy. This relatively recent internal transformation among the enemy is more significant than the willingness of some talented Blacks to function as surrogates for the Right. Careerists and opportunists have always been among us, but their services were not previously so highly valued; nor, in the past, was their company so welcomed at right-wing functions.

Grudgingly, the Hard Right evolved. Their strategy is no longer tokenist. In a sense, the Hard Right has decided to "normalize" its behavior toward Blacks, i.e., to employ funding, media, and sophisticated institution-building strategies in the Black community similar to those that have historically succeeded among whites. This is precisely what makes the New Black Strategy so dangerous: it is far less encumbered by past, racist inhibitions against intimate and expensive relationships with significant numbers of non-whites.

Throughout the post-Sixties explosion of African American electoral gains, the Hard Right kept its hands off intra-Black contests. This period will henceforth be remembered as a kind of benign Jim Crow, during which African American politicians were spared the need to confront the full weight of right wing financial, media and organizational clout on Black turf. That day is over.

The national Republican Party's embrace of the Bradley-pioneered strategy has vastly enhanced the reach and effectiveness of the Hard Right network. Contracts, appointments and all manner of emoluments are now available to Black operatives who prove useful in local campaigns - win or lose. The foundations no longer have to bear the burden of wholly subsidizing their Black puppets. The inducements available to entice Black Democrats to abandon the consensus have increased many-fold. The white Right is no longer stingy to its Black collaborators.

Further complicating the landscape, this year the evangelical and secular Right celebrated a post-911 alliance with Jewish groups in solidarity with whatever government rules Israel. Whether this reciprocal alliance is limited to Rightists who happen to be Jewish or extends into more mainstream pro-Israel organizations, is unclear. However, the evidence from Alabama and Georgia indicates that Jewish organizations that had previously observed the hands-off rule regarding interference in intra-Black contests have become interventionist - on the same side as gentile Rightists.

(In the Newark mayoral contest, where foreign policy issues were not at stake and the Jewish population is small, Booker operatives and their allies in media repeatedly attempted to inject Black-Jewish "conflicts" into the race.)

In practice, the alliance of right-wing Jews with the corporate Right and the Christian Right should have no effect on our course of action. Purging the Trojan Horses from the Black body-politic is essentially an internal affair. If we succeed, we will end up with the same allies we started out with, but also a far healthier political environment. As we clear the phony Democrats out, we will also clear our collective heads.

Where to look

In defense, African Americans must awaken precisely that quality which the Hard Right seeks to destroy: our historical will to speak for ourselves. On that ground, there are no honest divisions among us. Although tolerant of the widest range of political expression and styles, African Americans can be trusted to recognize and rebuke their enemies when they are pointed out to them.

The Hard Right isn't in hiding - it is in power! It spends freely, in amounts that wave like red flags in even the most upscale Black communities. These people are massively buying their way into office and influence. We and our allies can discover the points-of-purchase - the direct financial lines to the Trojan Horses. The process can be tedious, but it's not all that complicated. (Cory Booker was identified and out-ed in the premier issue of The Black Commentator, despite his down-with-the-hood pretensions.)

The handiwork of the Hard Right is easy to detect. Black Trojan Horse candidates are stealthy, carefully masquerading as cautious Democrats, but their paymasters betray them at the top of their lungs. Hard Right web sites and paper publications brag constantly about their actual and potential minority assets. They can't help themselves because, for the Right, the creation of an alternative Black leadership is a public ritual.

Whether he or she knows it or not, The Black Trojan Horse is placed in public view, at significant expense, for display purposes. They are there to be pointed out and regaled as brave dissidents, fighting the entrenched Black "establishment." Although powerful financiers and corporate and foundation executives sit at the center of the Right's machinery, they work through a public network of organizations, giving the appearance of a political "movement." Sponsors champion their favorites for membership in the club; they are introduced to the people that count. The ritual begins within the orbits and organs of the Hard Right. We just haven't been collectively looking in the right places - which is understandable; the strategy is only a few years old. Study the Right, and you'll find the Trojan Horse before he/she becomes a media darling.

Campaign contributions are arranged long before the race; by the time you see the money, a fatal dose may already be in the pipeline. However, in order to secure cash commitments to their Black protégés, the right-wingers must communicate among themselves in ways that can be easily overheard. There are no secrets, only people who have neglected to listen.

Cory Booker's October, 2000 luncheon speech to the Bradley Foundation-funded Manhattan Institute should have alerted everyone to the road he was about to take in his quest to become mayor of Newark. However, no African American had ever taken that route; these were the Right's first steps towards direct intervention in Black electoral politics. Booker's core financial and media backing was assured before he left the room. The Right's communications network followed up with a chorus of praise for the first-term councilman, preparing the larger field of contributors. Booker's name was on every Right operative's lips. Yet, the funding and media juggernaut that rolled into Newark 15 months later caught the Black and brown city completely by surprise.

Earl Hilliard didn't know what hit him, either. After his June 25 defeat by Arthur Davis, Hilliard told The Black Commentator: "I just found out this past week, that there were people who were sent to Alabama that were on the payroll of corporations who were doing all the necessary ground work and preparations and…when they put the money in, the money came like, WOW! It came almost at one time, over a period of about 30 days." The congressman from Alabama's Black Belt saw, too late, the footprints of the Hard Right's New Black Strategy, an assault that the public perceives, incorrectly, as a mainly Jewish operation.

In fact, the Right is quite ecumenical, having cemented a pact, this spring, between the corporate Hard Right (including the Bradley, Olin, Scaife, Walton foundations, etc.), the Christian Right, and the Jewish Right. Everyone knew the pro-Ariel Sharon train was barreling down on Cynthia McKinney. However, as Stephen Zunes wrote in the August 25 issue of Common Dreams: "[McKinney's] opponent's campaign coffers were enriched by contributions from individuals and PACs affiliated with big business and other special interests that surpassed that of the 'pro-Israel' groups.... Majette's top contributors include a sizable number of major Republican donors and very few names commonly associated with a Jewish ethnicity."

There is no need to look for pro-Sharon Jewish money behind every attempt to unseat progressive Black officeholders. The American Israel Political Affairs Committee will shout its involvement from here to Tel Aviv. Look, rather, to the established networks of the Hard Right foundations and their think tanks. Gathered there are most of Black people's enemies, scheming under one, big umbrella. Follow their grants and associations and you will find aspiring Black Trojan Horses, awaiting their assignments and checks. Some will be preparing to run for office, others in line for appointments.

But that's not the whole herd. The Democratic Party's right wing is organized around the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the faction that most slavishly courts big corporations and seeks to distance the party from unions and progressive Blacks. (Yes, this is the faction that spawned Bill Clinton, Al Gore and vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Lieberman.) Every African American politician associated with the DLC should be considered suspect, and closely watched. There is no reason for them to be there except to make deals with the party's right wing - which believes that Gore lost the 2000 election largely because he became too closely identified with Blacks and labor.

In some areas of the country, the DLC is the gray area between the Republican and Democratic machineries. Cory Booker's only close New Jersey party ties were with the rump DLC, or "New Democrats," who lauded him as a future star of the national party.

(Black Congressman Gregory Meeks of Queens, NY, is active with the DLC. The large bulk of the Congressional Black Caucus is aligned with the Progressive Congressional Caucus.)

The DLC was formed in the South to keep big business and white conservatives from allying themselves entirely with the Republicans. Georgia Senator Zell Miller is a prominent DLCer - he threatened to become a Republican early in the Bush term, a step that would have made little difference in his politics. Miller is the sponsor of Denise Majette's political career. There is little doubt that she will join the DLC; we predict the same for Arthur Davis.

The Progressive Policy Institute serves as the DLC's think tank, and describes itself this way: "The Institute's core philosophy stems from the belief that America is ill-served by an obsolete left-right debate that is out of step with the powerful forces reshaping our society and economy." The statement could have been written by any corporate-funded outfit, and fits perfectly in the mouths of Black stealth candidates signaling - but not too loudly - their rejection of the historical Black consensus.

We must watch who comes and goes at DLC functions. The place is a potential breeding ground for Black Trojan Horses.

In fact, we've got to do a lot of watching, and more.

The Tasks

Flush with two real victories and one imagined triumph, the authors of the Hard Right's New Black Strategy have doubtless kicked the campaign into higher gear than initially planned. In addition to the usual centers of intrigue (the DLC, for example) and the on- and off-line publications of the Right, it will be necessary to monitor regional and local media and newsletters to determine who is being courted by whom. Again, when the cash actually arrives, it will be too late to nip the Trojan Horse candidacy in the bud.

To some, such monitoring of the associations of African American politicians and aspirants may smack of paranoia, creating an unhealthy political climate in African American communities. Just the opposite: it is the stealth candidates, the Black Republicans masquerading as Democrats, who lie about their backers and agendas and steal the people's right to an honest choice. Even if America as a whole isn't ready for real campaign reform, it is within our power to enforce some degree of transparency in our own communities.

Not only are eyes and ears needed, but organizations of Black elected officials, overwhelmingly Democrats, should set up special committees on the alert to right-wing activities among the Black political class. Special attention should be paid to local school voucher groups, who have access to (Bradley Foundation-funded) training centers for activist cadre and electoral candidates. The school board candidate is only a check away from City Hall.

Monitors must be serious people, however. The honest, conservative-leaning Black candidate is not necessarily a tool of the Hard Right. If his pockets are light, he's certainly not with that crowd.

Once stealth candidates (or bought-off incumbents) are identified, they must be exposed. This will require both documentation and dogged perseverance, making full use of whatever media is available. When media fails to listen, relatively small groups of people are capable of making news, through demonstrations and other actions that demand coverage.

It must be emphasized that there has never been a campaign like the right-wing offensive that is currently directed against us. We will have to be creative in our response, while the Right and its hirelings rely on stealth, the sheer power of money and the manipulations of the corporate media.

The Black Commentator is working with others to create a center to defeat the stealth candidates and their sponsors. We have established Trojan Horse Watch to begin this process. Once organized, we are confident our collective resources will be sufficient to identify the stealth candidates, expose the Hard Right's schemes in the early stages, confront the front men and women at every venue and, ultimately, shape a political environment in which they cannot operate.

This is a self-determination project, in need of your skills, your energy and your commitment.

Contact: [email protected]

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Other commentaries in this issue:

How Sister McKinney Lost
and what we can learn from it by Bruce A. Dixon, Guest Commentator

Misreading the Zimbabwe Crisis: by Bill Derman and John Metzler, Guest Commentators

e-MailBox: Watergate, South?... Move over, Oprah... Return to sender

A letter to our readers: CIA-Crack website is back... Coca-Cola kills... Smallpox: none of the nurses' business... Victory in St. Louis, Setback in New Orleans

Commentaries in Issue 11 September 5, 2002:

Cynthia McKinney's Honorable Defeat: The Hard Right's New Black Strategy rolls on

America Held Hostage - by Bush: Public safety doled out for a political price

E-MailBox: Randall Kennedy and bad whiskey… McKinney: pain, sorrow and anger… Dr. Onyeani challenged on Zimbabwe… Offer to buy out The Black Commentator

A letter to our readers: Mugabe in the cross-hairs

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety on the Past Issues page.