In the immediate wake of September 11, uniformed and civilian supervisors started tossing an ancient racial epithet around the offices of Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, Alabama. A firestorm of outrage erupted as it became clear that, in the "rocket capital of the world" Black weapons scientists are regarded as nothing more than "Tar Babies." (See "Tar Baby Outrage" in the June 7 issue of BC.)

It is ominously significant that all four of the meticulously documented incidents occurred in the months after President Bush announced that the world has been divided into "us" and "them." He neglected to explain that "us" included African Americans. The good old boys and yahoos, who consider themselves to be thoroughly patriotic, felt a surge of empowerment and began acting out their most racist impulses.

Two disturbing conclusions can be drawn from the Redstone experience. Either Bush's emerging national security state is fundamentally racist, or American racism undermines the security of the state.

Actually, both conclusions are true.

Hear No Evil, See No Threat

"The bottom line is that security and intelligence agencies of the U.S. are rife with race discrimination," read a June 13 letter to President Bush from Matthew Fogg, head of the Redstone Area Minority Employees Association. "For this reason, it is imperative that racial bias be treated as a serious threat to national security…."

The following week the White House received a letter from the President of Blacks In Government (BIG), Gerald Reed, who found reports of "systemic racism" at Redstone "appalling." BIG seeks to speak on behalf of 2.5 million African American federal, state and local employees, including many Blacks at the military's most sensitive installations.

The Redstone outrage resonated among readers of The Black Commentator, which first brought the story to a national audience. BC made Fogg's letter to the President and other top officials available via a news release to thousands of publications nationwide along with Washington correspondents. Those receiving the news release represented virtually the entire national corporate news media. Relatively few picked up the story.

The major media's disinterest was not surprising. Much of the corporate press decided years ago that racial discrimination was no longer important news. American racism is characterized by the view that people of color represent either a problem or a threat. Bias charges are treated as a "game" in which Blacks "play" their "race cards." Many editors believe that racial problems are largely of African Americans' own making - which is also the dominant opinion among the people surrounding President Bush.

The outrageous behavior of white supervisors at Redstone is, in this twisted logic, an isolated incident that is being overblown by thin-skinned African Americans whining about petty problems.

The corporate-controlled media cannot be expected to be any more receptive to African American complaints than the corporate-controlled White House. In fact, the two groups validate each other's prejudices. Black people's grievances are seen as inherently suspect, and not necessarily newsworthy.

Regarding Redstone, where highly trained weapons specialists have been shut out of participation in the national defense, the rationale goes like this: Black suffering cannot possibly represent a national security problem unless there is a Black threat to national security.

Since African Americans are not and have never been a threat to national security, the White House, the Pentagon and the press feel no need to provide an adequate response to the assaults on Black rights and dignity at Redstone Arsenal.

Our Redstone coverage generated lots of mail. Former EEO manager Jean Lavine Sanford speculated on the effects of racism-induced low morale among African Americans servicing AC-130 guns ships.

I submit that such an employee might not be disposed to do the job as it should be done because the employee is preoccupied with combating racial animus in the work place. A hostile work environment can prove to be as devastating to our Nation's security as some faceless enemy hiding in the bushes.

It is past time for the President, Congress, and everyone else who occupy seats of power to realize that Equal Employment Opportunity (Enforcement) is as imperative to Strategic Plans of Action as is any other dedicated resource.

For Whom the Whistle Blows

The national corporate press claim to be public watchdogs. In reality, they are selectively concerned citizens of a made-up white country. Consider their treatment of the "whistleblower" angle in our ongoing national security saga.

FBI agent Colleen Rowley became an instant - and deserving - media icon when she charged that a supervisory agent had obstructed an investigation that might have prevented the events of September 11. Her actions were lauded as the highest expression of patriotism.

Dr. Clara Denise West and other African American scientists blew the whistle on morale-destroying discrimination at a super-sensitive military installation. As a reward, they and their degrees were sidelined to years of menial duty. Dr. West was called a "Tar Baby."

The media took no notice, despite having been aggressively alerted to the story by professional journalists who know how the business works. When matters of race are involved, their minds malfunction. Threatening Black people are newsworthy - those who warn that overt acts of racism threaten the nation, are not.

Relentless discrimination against African Americans at Redstone and throughout the public and private workplaces of America is both unjust and counter to the national interest, regardless of the color codes on Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge's ridiculous terror alert charts. If blatant acts of racism at high security weapons installations during Bush's proclaimed time of war are non-events, then our worst suspicions are confirmed: Bush and his generals are more loyal to their race than to their country. They are the national security threats.

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Other commentaries in this issue:

Voucher Tricksters:The Hard Right Enters Through the Schoolhouse Door

Randall Kennedy: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Fool... How the NAACP Handled the N-word...J.C. Watts, Gone in a Flash

Commentaries in Issue Number 6 - June 27, 2002

The N-word as Therapy for Racists: Randall Kennedy's Idiotic Assault on Black People's Honor

A Monument to George Washington's Slaves: Picking favorites among Black heroes and What a real man said on the 4th of July

Goin' South:
To save itself, organized labor must capture Dixie

CIA Trumps FBI: Forget about a War on Drugs

National Security News Alert: President is Warned Race Bias “Threatens National Security”- Special Edition - Issue Number 5 - June 13, 2002

Commentaries in issue 4 - June 7, 2002:

Tar Baby Outrage!: Racism and Corruption at the Redstone Arsenal

Condoleezza's Complaint & Paratroopers in the Basement: Connie's image and the Venezuelan coup

Did the Green Party Betray Black America: by Dr. Jonathan David Farley, Guest Commentator

A Law That Gives Racists Something to Fear:by Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Fogg, Guest Commentator

Commentaries in previous issues :

Condoleezza & Geraldo, a Fine Pair: The Role Models' Burden

Hard Right Cash Defeated in Black City - This Time
Ultra-Conservative Favorite Cory Booker Loses in Newark, New Jersey

Newark: The First Domino? - The Hard Right Tests its National Black Strategy

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right's Plan to Capture Newark NJ

A Letter from Harvard: "How to spot a "Black Trojan Horse." Dr. Martin Kilson, Guest Commentator

Reparations Part One: The True Value of Some Land and an Animal

The Living Wage Movement: A New Beginning - Bread, Power and Civil Rights in 19 Languages

Rep. Cynthia McKinney's Statement on the Events of September 11: The need for an investigation of the events surrounding September11 is as obvious as is the need for an investigation of the Enron debacle.

Make The Amendment: How to Get the U.S. Government Out of the International Drug Trade

Psychologically Unfit: The U.S. Can't Handle the Death Penalty

Linquistic Profiling: By Patrice D. Johnson, guest commentator