thought he had it bad. For 41 days and 41 nights, the
Republican Party rained down racial obscenity upon Black America,
beginning with Trent Lott's December 5 birthday greeting to
Strom Thurmond and climaxing on Martin Luther King's birthday,
January 15, when George Bush declared the University of Michigan
law school's affirmative action program unconstitutional. Bush
capped off the holiday weekend with a visit to a Black church,
where he tempted the congregation with faith-based favors. The
Queen of the show, Condoleezza Rice, blew kisses to the crowd
- an image that should be etched in memory, raising as it does
the most profound challenge to historical Black political behavior.
we cannot be moved to revulsion by brazen acts of treason, then
we cannot hope to exercise the power of a coherent political
force. Condoleezza Rice is the purest expression of the race
traitor. No polite description is possible.
a people historically excluded from high titles, Blacks have
applauded every African American "first" as a collective
victory. This was a logical and correct response to the solid
wall of white refusal
to tolerate the presence of Black faces in high places.
In such circumstances - which still prevail today in vast swaths
of American society - individual advancement actually does
represent a kind of collective triumph. The rule applies, even
in areas of endeavor having little effect on the lives of Black
people, in general. Indeed, the more exclusively white the enclave
or activity, the greater the shared victory once the color line
people invented the rules of this game, and can end it at will.
Beginning in earnest less than a decade ago, and at the urging
of Right think-tankers bent on maintaining white domination,
the Republican Party adopted a strategy of selective, high profile
minority appointments. This approach allowed the GOP to continue
to cultivate its core racist base, while reassuring white "swing"
voters that they had not allied themselves with a racist party.
Of decidedly secondary importance was the possibility of finding
substantial support among Black voters. Significantly, the GOP
simultaneously downgraded efforts to elect Black Republicans
to Congress. For the party's narrow purposes, an appointive
Black strategy provided large propaganda payoffs at minimal
the six weeks between the birthdays, Condoleezza Rice and, in
a related role, Armstrong Williams, demonstrated the destructive
utility of the Black appointed (or self-appointed) operative.
Williams, the multi-media propagandist and political consultant
to the entire Hard Right infrastructure, orchestrated a contrived
confrontation-reconciliation between Black Republicans and party
leadership, thus providing a theatrical catharsis to "heal"
the wounds of the Trent Lott affair. (See "Armstrong
Williams' Big Move, January 16.) For this service, Williams
will be amply rewarded as prime contractor for the GOP's Black
appointments and candidate bankrolling apparatus.
special assignment, far removed from her training as a Sovietologist
and her National Security job description, was to deflect Black
anger when George Bush launched his long-planned assault on
affirmative action in higher education.
was more than willing, having logged 18 years service to the
Bush family. However, the crude racists of Bush's inner circle
betrayed Rice and Bush from the start. They had railed against
"reverse discrimination" their entire political lives,
and were incapable of finessing the issue or understanding the
sensitive nature of Rice's mission.
of their own scripts, senior Bush men spun a tale to the Washington
Helped Shape Bush Decision on Admissions") that gave
the impression that Rice is even more hostile to affirmative
action than Bush.
officials said Rice, in a series of lengthy one-on-one meetings
with Bush, drew on her experience as provost at Stanford University
to help convince him that favoring minorities was not an effective
way of improving diversity on college campuses," said the
January 17 piece.
This was bad spin for all concerned, an inept
maneuver that embarrassed the national security advisor and
made Bush seem soft and squishy on race, causing alarm among
his base in the White Man's Party.
the same Friday, according to a Reuters report, Rice got permission
from the President to issue her own statement. In this version,
it was Rice who had positioned the President oh so delicately
between the opposing pulls of the Hard Right and Compassionate
Conservatism. She was a helpmate, not a harpy.
opinion was that "race could play a role in college admissions,
endorsing a civil rights principle that President Bush has avoided,"
fact, the actual White House brief on the Michigan case did
not rule out any and all uses of race in college admissions;
Bush's statement to the nation on King's birthday had been crafted
to make it appear that he had taken a position of blanket
opposition. Now, by introducing Rice's clarification of her
"own" opinions, as if in juxtaposition to the President's,
the fiction of Rice's independence was allowed to take root
- in the absence of any evidence of real differences between
how the Reuters story read:
agree with the president's position, which emphasizes the
need for diversity and recognizes the continued legacy of
racial prejudice and the need to fight it,'' Rice said in
a written statement.
she added: "I believe that while race-neutral means are
preferable, it is appropriate to use race as one factor among
others in achieving a diverse student body.''
House officials insisted that Rice was not at odds with Bush.
could not be more supportive of what the president did. And
the way that he did it, the strong statement that he made
about the importance of educational diversity with racial
diversity as an element,'' Rice said earlier in the day.
had never been "at odds with Bush." Together, they
had corrected the initial spin from Bush's mean old boys, who
had made Rice appear like a Black anti-affirmative action dominatrix.
Instead, Bush appeared to be acting in harmony with an independent-minded
Black woman whose opinions he happened to share.
is most disturbing about this manufactured drama starring a
hireling and her boss is the institutional performance of the
corporate media which, acting on its own imperatives, succeeded
in correcting the initial White House spin blunder while elevating
Rice to a totally undeserved status.
of a national discussion on affirmative action, or the merits
of the case that is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, attention
was focused on the opinions of a woman who represents no one
besides her patrons. Better the old days, back in the Forties,
when Joe Louis was asked to speak for Black America. At least
he fought his own battles in the boxing ring. Rice, the foreign
policy servant, was treated like an authentic Black leader -
a triumph of the GOP's Black appointive strategy, and a collective
insult to every African American.
Neas, president of the liberal People For the American Way Foundation,
couldn't resist getting into the act, if only to boost the opinions
of another Black Bush appointee who represents no one
but himself. "It is very good news that Condoleezza Rice
agrees with Colin Powell's long-standing belief that it is appropriate
to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse
student body,'' Neas said.
undoubtedly meant well, but he did Black people no favor. Then
again, his remarks were certainly echoed in Black barbershops
and beauty parlors throughout the nation, over the long King
weekend. Republican Black appointive politics, bearing no relation
to democracy or Black self-determination, has achieved a status
in much of the public mind equal to the real politics of elections.
confirmation, the affirmative action opinions of both Rice and
Powell were elicited on NBC's "Meet the Press" and
CBS's "Face the Nation," respectively, Sunday morning.
Rice said that Bush "has come out in exactly the right
place." Powell repeated his support for the University
of Michigan's affirmative action program. Headlines filled the
all of Black elected and institutional leadership as well as
every Democratic presidential contender except the shifty Senator
Joe Lieberman support the Michigan program. Yet Sunday belonged
to the two, politely dueling appointees. As an operative fact,
the corporate press conspires with the White House to present
appointed Blacks as an alternative - more newsworthy - leadership
of Black America. It matters little that Powell's views on affirmative
action happen to be closer to those of Black elected leaders
and activists with proven constituencies. Powell was not chosen
by Blacks, but by Bush. His opinion counts for no more than
that of Condoleezza Rice.
old, reflexive Black applause for members of the race who are
chosen for high office, now works against us with a vengeance.
The GOP understands the game and, with the enthusiastic connivance
of corporate media, plays it with increasing skill. Authentic
Black opinion, sensibilities and leadership are relentlessly
devalued, even at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Maryland
on the day set aside for remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Associated Press recorded the surprise presidential visit:
warmly greeted, Bush's applause paled in comparison to the
cheers that followed Rice's introduction. She smiled and blew
kisses to the crowd from her seat behind Bush.
Black leadership has done little to impress upon the people
that Rice is the devil's handmaiden, an eager accomplice in
Bush's crimes. It is one thing to bear insults with dignity.
It is quite another to cheer about it.
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