the outside observer, the Republican Party may seem to have
no coherent plan for Black America. Actually, the GOP has two
game plans. One is a farcical show of "inclusion"
through appointments and hiring, a petty cash and publicity
diversion designed to have no significant effect on GOP policy
or its strategic position as the White Man's Party. Armstrong
Williams is Clown-in-Chief in this ring of the circus, but it's
really just a sideshow.
game is pure subversion, far more sophisticated and deadly.
The goal is to sow confusion and chaos among Black Democrats,
the party's only dependable mass base. This ring of the circus
is where the real action - and money - is, the GOP's strategic
Black game plan.
leader Tom DeLay spent much of last week going through the motions
of paying attention to Black columnist-consultant Armstrong
Williams, the central player in what the Washington
Post editorially derided as a Republican "affirmative
action plan" for Black conservatives. Williams, for whom
Hard Right Republicanism is the Living Word, pretended to slap
his clients into racial sensitivity, demanding that they renounce
lily-whiteness and buy into his bag of Black resumes. (The Post
editorial, with wicked sarcasm, had Williams describing a roomful
of whites turning "ashen and silent" under his tirade.)
pills for what ails the GOP were no problem at all for Tom DeLay
to swallow. In fact, the archconservative seemed quite pleased
with himself when he told an AP reporter, "One of our problems
was, in the hiring of African-Americans, we can't find good
conservative African-Americans to work for us." (It's so
hard to get good help these days.) But a package from Armstrong
Williams had arrived, and "I've got 20 resumes now of young
Williams' contrived rebellion consists of holding white Republicans'
hands, while they perform painless exercises. "It's our
responsibility to help them," said Strom Thurmond's Black
Of the 20,000
staffers on Capitol Hill, about 8 percent are African American,
according to Black Republican Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth
Blackwell. About one percent are Black Republicans.
On the West
Coast, the same marginal drama occupies media attention. Shannon
Reeves, top Black in the California Republican Party and renegade
Oakland NAACP chief, is locked in epic combat with state party
Vice Chairman Bill Back, a fan of the Confederacy. Back endorsed
and distributed a tract that lamented the plight of emancipated
slaves because "most of the poor devils had no experience
fending for themselves."
out, cried Reeves! He quickly fired off an open letter to the
Angeles Times, denouncing Back's "bigoted propaganda."
GOP strategist Kevin Spillane chimed in: "What this whole
episode demonstrates is that there continues to be a tremendous
degree of insensitivity among Republican leaders about how to
handle race issues."
the point, here? That moss-backed bigots should learn to bite
their tongues? That the Republican Party's legislative agenda
will be affected by the addition of a few more Black staffers
- or 100 more?
Senator Rick Santorum also complained about his party's racial
inertia. "It took us the last two years to convince our
members that actually having a [Black-oriented] communications
plan and a message and a strategy by which to implement
that is a good thing," he told the congressional newspaper
Hill. However, Santorum's eyes are focused on the legislation
agenda, which is where the rest of us ought to be looking.
the Black church
of the GOP plan to wreak havoc in the Black body politic is
faith-based funding of Black churches. That's the real
show in this circus, and the clowns in that ring wear clerical
would argue that roughly a third of the African American community
are culturally and fiscally fairly conservative," Santorum
said. "That's a block that we should get if we do a good
job communicating what we're all about and why it makes sense
for them to vote for us."
Republican National Committee goal is to garner 15 to 20 percent
of the Black vote in 2004, enough to dash Democratic hopes of
resurgence and convince white Republicans that they are members
of an integrated party.
congregations have not been significantly swayed in the past
by Republican cultural and fiscal messages. This time, the plan
is to bribe the preachers. George Bush has instructed five of
his cabinet departments to make hundreds of millions of dollars
in contracts available to the Black clergy. (See "De-funding
the Right Rev. Dr. Greedygut," January 2.) His $600
million State of the Union pitch for faith-based drug "rehabilitation"
programs was developed for Black churches by the Milwaukee-based
Bradley Foundation, the GOP's Hard Right brain. Under other
Republican legislation, church buildings could be partially
financed with federal money. Black churches are also prime targets
for the $756 million that Bush wants this Congress to spend
on private school vouchers.
what goes on in Black Republican circles is of no lasting impact:
Armstrong Williams' hollow bombast, Condoleezza Rice's ceremonial
presence, Shannon Reeve's bickering with racists.
faith-based funding and school vouchers, if passed, have the
potential to thoroughly corrupt Black American politics for
many years to come. "All of those will be issues that will
be coming out of the box within the month," said Senator
soon see what the Congressional Black Caucus - and the Black
church - are made of.
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