Issue Number 26 - January 23, 2003

Armstrong Williams' coup de grits
Deep South demographic disturbances
Piratical political plots












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The unreconstructed racists at the helm of the Republican Party have elevated the most widely despised Black man in the nation as their principle African American political spokesman. Armstrong Williams, the raving reactionary whose opinions are shared by no significant segment of Black America, has positioned himself as the GOP's Director of Black Personnel, the central player in the party's drive to recruit Black candidates for electoral and appointive office. Flanked by about a dozen Black Republicans less known - and, therefore, less reviled - than himself, Armstrong pretended to strong-arm Republican National Chairman Mark Racicot and Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist, demanding that they entrust to his care a large portion of the party's minority recruitment funds and favors. Racicot and Frist, for their part, pretended to be awed and intimidated by the fawning talk show buffoon.

At the end of the day's political theater, the players bowed and congratulated each other on a ruse well done. As we wrote in our January 16 commentary Armstrong Williams' Big Move, "There is a giant money pot in this deal for Williams, whose public relations firm, the Graham Williams Group, co-founded with Oprah boyfriend Stedman Graham, specializes in crafting benign racial images for the institutional Right."

Black Democrats should take no pleasure in Williams' coup. The carefully scripted Racicot-Williams production, starring Strom Thurmond's Black protégé, a mercenary who has "never run for office or led any organization indigenous to the Black community," sets the political bar so low that it can only encourage complacency among white Democrats. The GOP has no monopoly on racism - although, when it comes to minstrelsy, the White Man's Party puts on a far more entertainingly authentic show, the real doo-dah.

Which calls for a snappy one-liner from one of our readers, Bro Reuben:

Negro's are for sale. Black folks just can't afford them.

Of course, Black Republicans don't have the luxury of humor, as they contemplate Armstrong Williams' coup. Sherman N. Miller publishes the online InnerCity Conservative. He's not laughing.

I am a Black Republican who ran for Lt. Governor of the state of Delaware in 1996 on the Republican Party ticket. My columns have appeared in the African American press for over 30 years. I am also a member of the Trotter Group for the last ten years.

Many of my columns have also appeared simultaneously in the mainstream media. I am presently building a web page to offer opinions of inner city conservatives that speak to the issues of tomorrow. You may find my vita at that web site. If you know of conservatives that wish to have their articles on line please send them to me.

I also firmly believe that Black Republicans have a responsibility to speak to the issues of today and not appear to put down the Black race merely to exploit the media for high coverage. Perhaps the media will seek out some of us moderately conservative Black Republicans who have excellent working relationships with the Black Democrats over the years to do what is right for our community. The national Republican Party knows who the moderately conservative Black Republicans are, so you all might want to challenge them to also bring out these people's positions versus merely blindly following the Armstrong Williams' school of Black Republicanism.

The National Republican Committee also knows that they cannot follow a doctrine as extreme as the Armstrong Williams doctrine without committing political suicide in the long run.

Fredrick D. Robinson is editor of editor of Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine. He dropped us a line:

That piece on Armstrong Williams and the GOP was awesome!

The Oprah-Armstrong Williams connection moved Don Call to write to us, from Florida.

I didn't realize that Stedman was affiliated with Williams. So much for the people's gal, Oprah. Why is it that every time a Democrat gets a couple hundred thousand in the bank, they suddenly become Republicans?

One of the pundits on CNN said that Rep. Ford may be considering a move to the Republican Party. Is this true?

Well, Mr. Call, we don't study too much Oprah at but, regarding right-leaning Black Congressman Harold Ford, we very much doubt that he would commit political suicide in his Memphis district or embarrass his locally powerful family by switching parties. However, we predict that he will be among the first in the Congressional Black Caucus to endorse Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman for President - which is almost the same thing.

Ford is one of the Four Eunuchs of the CBC who voted for Bush's Iraq War, along with Sanford Bishop (GA), William Jefferson (LA) and Albert Wynn (MD). Lieberman is even more Hell-bent on war than Bush, and is the standard bearer for the Democratic Leadership Council, representing the party's right wing. Ford serves on the executive board of the DLC.

Rumors that Rep. Ford might switch parties probably emanate from Ford, himself, a buzz-addicted personality.

Our deadline prevented us from examining the hoopla and nonsense surrounding Condoleezza Rice's role in George Bush's anti-affirmative action farce, last week. Boston's Gary N. Harding decided to write to us about it, anyway.

I found it interesting the White House stated that Condi Rice played a part in helping Bush come up with the administration position on affirmative action. But what really got my attention was the administration position that the best way to achieve diversity in higher education was to allow diversity to just "evolve." After reading this I thought to myself. How and why are these people allowed to get away with saying to African Americans again in 2003 to just wait, you'll get your opportunity. Just wait for things to "evolve." But I am from the old school and I say, Freedom, when do I want it? Now! And not just for me like selfish white Negroes, persons the likes of Colin Powell, Rice, Armstrong and the rest of the traitors who serve their own interests for selfish purposes. I want it for all who are left behind in this society.

Oh by the way, keep up your work. Your site is by far, one of the best sources for information for people of color to be found anywhere.

For our take on where Condoleezza Rice fits in the White House scheme of things, see Condoleezza Rice: The Devil's Handmaiden, in this issue.

Deep South Destination

We expected Jorge Mariscal's Guest Commentary "A Chicano Looks at the Trent Lott Affair" to provoke a serious response from the readership - and we were not disappointed. Mexican American immigrants to the Deep South, wrote the educator and activist, "are walking into a black/white universe like virtual aliens from another planet." Mariscal cautioned that the "hoary black/white paradigm that still determines all discussions about race in the United States" fails to address the new realities occasioned by the Hispanic presence. Mariscal posed the question: "Will discrimination in education and housing and economic inequality in general eventually lead to a new Mexican American militancy that will rise up this time not in the Southwest but deep in the heart of Dixie?"

Eric Bogan, of Portland, Oregon, isn't ready to discard the old racial paradigm, just yet.

As always, a thought-provoking issue. I'd like to respond to the article "A Chicano Looks at the Trent Lott Affair" by Jorge Mariscal, specifically, the contention, shared by he and other Latino/a academics and commentators, that discourse on race in these United States is locked in an "narrow and antiquated black/white reality" I would beg to differ that in the experience of most black brothers and sistahs, there's nothing "antiquated" about: 1) being stopped by cops on highways (better known as DWB - driving whilst black) 2) denial of job/housing opportunities due to their particular pigment 3) frequently demonized in the white mainstream media as being the locus of all social pathology in America and lastly 4) comprising a disproportionate number of individuals in prison in relation to their population.

While I do agree with Mr. Mariscal that the discourse needs to be broader in regards to racial issues, and the history of the black/latino/a coalitions should be better understood amongst both peoples, by no means have we achieved anywhere near a point in time where anyone can state with the certitude of Mr. Mariscal that the issues that continue to stay with us are in any way "antiquated'' simply due to the "facts on the ground" of latino/a immigration numbers that are presented.

Dawn Uwangue examines the paradigm from a slightly different angle.

Latinos fit into the American racial madness pretty much according to the old schoolyard rhyme: If you're white, you're all right/If you're brown, stick around/If you're yellow, you're mellow/If you're black, get back.

The non-white immigrant groups coming into this country fit into this racial pyramid, whether they know it or not, and whether they like it or not.

As Richard Pryor famously joked, being able to yell "nigger" is a basic qualification for US citizenship. A working knowledge of the history of American apartheid would inform any new American's understanding of what it means to be an American. To go along and conform to the status quo is to support the white supremacist hierarchy. If they wish to challenge that hierarchy and build a better future for themselves and their families, they have to form coalitions with African-Americans. We know the most about challenging white supremacy in this nation; apart from the Native Americans, we've had the most practice.

Historically, the "brown, stick around..." rhyme is a Black-Black paradigm, referring to different shades of African Americans. However, we do agree with everything ever said by Richard Pryor.

We believe it is critical that Black activists and politicians rise to the challenge of the exploding Hispanic population, whether the immigrants are immediately receptive or not (to paraphrase Ms. Uwangue). It is to our advantage that they be politically assimilated to our worldview, and that we become more knowledgeable about theirs.

Jim Boren writes from Texas.

Jorge Mariscal's commentary is an excellent one, and it deserves the added readership that inclusion in will give it.

Mr. Boren partnered with publishers Peter Gamble and Glen Ford to establish America's Black Forum as commercial television's first nationally syndicated Black news interview program, in 1977. He, too, is outraged that ABF has become a showcase for the GOP's Personnel Director, clown-columnist Armstrong Williams. It's good to hear from Jim.

Issues: Death Penalty

You may have noted that we changed the name of our "Briefs" column to "The Issues" - partly because we are quite often anything but "brief" when dealing with the issues. In last week's Issues column, we examined Illinois Governor George Ryan's decision to empty the state's death row.

"Abolition is the only answer," we wrote. "167 men and women were spared when a Republican governor, like Saul on the road to Damascus, was made to see the light, and became Paul. Such transformations are rare. The prosecutors of Illinois vow to fill the empty spaces on death row. They are the bloodthirsty problem beyond fixing. The tools of death must be snatched from their hands." (See "Death takes a [brief] holiday," January 16.)

The bright light also seems to have shined on John Lockhart, of San Diego, California, one of the 38 capital punishment states.

After reading your story I have changed my way of thinking, concerning the capital punishment. The facts are what they are. It makes me very sad that our country tells other countries how to treat their people and we treat ours just as bad. We do a good job of cover up. America should be held accountable. This information is very powerful.

Payday for Pirates

A piratical class dominates the executive and legislative machinery of U.S. government through the Republican Party - a class with no national loyalties and only tenuous connections to the workings of the domestic economy. In our December 5 commentary, "Rule of the Pirates: The $200 Billion Payday," we pointed out that the "cost" of war with Iraq is welcomed as a bonanza among the circles that brought us George Bush and Dick Cheney. "For them," we wrote, "war is the ideal business environment."

Mike Paige writes from Cambridge College, Massachusetts.

I read the editorial, "Pirates". It was very good. However, you neglected to mention the Carlyle Group, the investment firm that Bush Sr. is involved in and also I believe James Baker. Once you look at the Carlyle Group you begin to understand the long and large tentacles of the military/industrial complex. There is a revolving door between business and government. We sell them weapons, we attack them because they possess the weapons, we rebuild the infrastructure we just destroyed. We get to profit three times. I also feel bad because most people join the military for a noble reason. However, the U.S.military is becoming the security force for U.S. corporations, smoothing and paving the way for oil fields and pipelines. I would like to see future editorials about the connections between the Carlyle Group and the U.S. government.

Carlyle is, of course, a major player in the ascendant, pirate political network.

Mr. Paige must be gently chastised on his use of the word "we," as in, "We get to profit three times." The only people who will profit from rebuilding Iraq after first destroying it are the pirates of Carlyle, Halliburton, etc. The rest of us get the bill.

Rhondda Francis is more excitable than the Pointer Sisters.

Wow! I was blown away by your "pirates" commentary, which I linked to from Thoughtful and visceral. I'll be back. With friends.

We are confident that Ms. Francis keeps good company.

Amy Bridgeman has written into her book of notable dates, for which we are honored.

I never knew this website existed before today the 17th of January 2003. From the two articles I've read your stuff is very good and necessary at this time to counter all the right wing dung that passes for information on radio and TV. I'll be reading your stuff a lot more often from now on.

We can also attest that John K. Boyd is a gentleman of discerning taste and penetrating intellect. Here is the proof:

I only recently stumbled across your site. I'm a white reader who attends the University of Oklahoma. I find The Black Commentator an invaluable resource for insight into the concerns of blacks and other minorities.

Your site is very well designed and the commentary cogent. Thank you for this valuable resource.

We are particularly pleased to receive this note from syndicated columnist Deborah Mathis, who puts words to the service of the people.

You are fabulous. Keep that strong, unflinching stance dear Brothers and Sisters.

Keep writing.

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