white man in the White House has his Black operatives running up
and down the streets of Washington, DC, waving millions of dollars
in private school voucher money - and nobody's taking the bribe.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams says, No. Bush says, No matter. The city
school board says, No. The White House doesn't hear them. A poll
shows that overwhelming majorities of the public reject vouchers.
Bush insists it is his compassionate duty to foist the scheme on
the recalcitrant natives, anyway.
can no longer be any doubt: The Bush push for school vouchers has
been definitively exposed as a phony issue, an invention of Right
think tanks and their hired Black hustlers that has only the thinnest
support among the people who are the supposed beneficiaries. Nobody
ever marched for vouchers.
set aside $75 million to fund vouchers programs in seven or eight
cities, part of $756
million in so-called "school choice" money in Bush's 2004
budget. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that voucher programs are
constitutional. So is sex, but that doesn't make it mandatory. A
Zogby poll taken in November showed that 76 percent of DC residents
- and a whopping 85 percent of Blacks - reject vouchers. It is a
sentiment of longstanding - back in 1981, nine out of ten DC voters
turned down a voucher tax credit scheme. DC's elected representatives
are speaking for their constituents. To the Bush crew, this is a
elected school board issued a written statement: "Vouchers
drain critical dollars from neighborhood schools and divert attention
from the reform effort already under way in the DCPS System."
So Bush sent in his Education HNIC, Rod Paige, to browbeat the Mayor.
Clearly, the voucher scheme is being presented as an offer that
cannot be refused with impunity.
the meeting, Paige spokesman Dan Langan tried to put the best spin
on the conversation, indicating to the Washington
Post that the Mayor was amenable to putting the voucher money
in a non-profit "entity" for distribution to families.
That's not the way Mayor Williams remembered it. "He is not
in support of that at all," said mayoral spokesman Tony Bullock.
No means no.
Bush operatives whispered a different story, forcing the Mayor's
man to speak more expansively. "We needed that face-to-face
[meeting with Mr. Paige] to agree to disagree," Bullock told
Times. "And we wanted to do so in ways that didn't prevent
us from accessing funding for other school-choice programs offered.
But you are not going to see our government participate in a government-sponsored
voucher program. Once you have moved past that immovable position,
we are really flexible about school choice and have a proven track
record with it."
illiterate person can read between those lines. Bush is threatening
to punish DC's public schools unless he is given a green light for
his private voucher showcase. Washington maintains one of the nation's
most extensive charter public school networks - the implicit target
of Republican political retribution.
the rest of urban America, DC is in need of... everything. Even
the unwanted programs favored by the powerful are not rejected,
lightly. However, "The notion of skirting the public officials
by finding a private entity [for vouchers] is both insulting to
public officials in the District of Columbia and treating the District
in a way no other city or state is treated," said Washington's
non-voting Congressional Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton. "And
we will not be treated unequally. We demand equal treatment when
it comes to federal funds."
is attempting to steamroll DC because he can - and because it is
Black. In the process, he is demonstrating that the voucher scam
is a foreign political object that must be forced down the throats
of Black America. The Hard Right plan to showcase the wonders of
educational privatization in the nation's capital has gone awry,
and been revealed as its opposite: a thuggish display of the administration's
contempt for democracy in general, and the rights of Black children,
parents and voters, in particular.
and the last shall be first
Democrats are gearing up to mount a bum rush of their own, one that
could change the political and racial texture of the coming primary
formal American presidential selection process begins in the glaringly
white environs of New Hampshire and becomes progressively more distorted
as the primary schedule lurches along. If a unanimous DC City Council
gets its way, Washington will preempt New Hampshire to hold the
nation's first primary on January 10, 2004, giving its Black (and
relatively progressive white) electorate first whack at the candidates.
as Iowa farmers demand that candidates take firm positions on hog
prices, Democrats who want to break out of the pack with DC's convention
votes in hand and momentum in their campaigns will be pressed on
full voting rights for Washington. This is not a local issue: in
addition to a fully privileged U.S. Representative, the District
would elect two U.S. Senators.
DC Democracy Fund Executive
Director Sean Tenner informs us that the City Council will hold
public hearings on its historic "first in the nation"
legislation on Wednesday, February 19. The measure, introduced by
Councilman Jack Evans and supported by Mayor Williams and the entire
City Council, including Republicans, may well overcome initial resistance
from the National Democratic Party. As Tenner wrote in last week's
city's activists and politicians are fed up with 200 years of
second-class status and are asserting themselves in ways that
would have previously seemed unthinkable. Along with Evans, DC
Council Chair Linda Cropp (D) went on the radio and stated she
would fight to hold the primary regardless of opposition from
Congress. "This is a local matter that should be decided
locally," Cropp said. "They may be able to keep us (delegates)
from being seated but they cannot keep us from voting."
Democrat's Sharpton dilemma
savors the prospect of a "DC first" primary season more
than Rev. Al Sharpton, who would be favored to win. Instead, Sharpton
this week found himself having to admit to Iowa farmers that he
has not yet developed a full-fledged agricultural policy, but will
put together "a progressive farm agenda in Iowa" by sometime
next month. According to the Des
Moines Register, Sharpton considers himself not just the only
Black in the contest, but one of the few real Democrats. "We
have far too many people who will be coming through Iowa that are
elephants in donkey clothes," he said.
is also probably the best speaker and quickest mind in the bunch
- bad news for those who seek to marginalize his candidacy. The
"Black Hope" of this crowd is Carolyn Moseley-Braun, former
Senator from Illinois who, the theory goes, would split the African
Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown caught Sharpton's act last weekend.
He thinks Moseley-Braun is outclassed:
has the potential to be hugely popular with black voters all across
the country, possibly enough to win a southern primary or two
in a crowded field. And, believe it or not, he might even attract
a small following among white voters looking for somebody to "tell
it like it is."
others had started to figure out the same thing and became the
source of some of the encouragement for Moseley-Braun's sudden
interest in the presidency. It's the old divide-and-conquer strategy
that is well-known in Chicago ward politics. If the first black
woman in the U.S. Senate can dilute some of Sharpton's support,
he becomes a non-factor.
if Moseley-Braun is going to enter the fray with Sharpton, she'd
better bring her "A'' game if she doesn't want to look like
Mark Brown titled his piece, "Sharpton not the dullest tool
in the shed" - a strangely backhanded compliment.
course, Black excellence is circumscribed by the practice of comparing
Blacks only to other Blacks, allowing inferior white contenders
to shine, undeservedly. Sharpton should be measured against presidential
standards, such as those set by George Bush:
war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam
Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein and his willingness to terrorize
himself." - Grand Rapids, Mich., January 29.
that's a dull tool.
may surprise some readers to learn that the publishers of The Black
Commentator give corporate America much of the credit for the limited
gains of affirmative action in the U.S. Although big business certainly
did not welcome Dr. Martin Luther King and his movement, it was
corporate planners who realized that southern cities like Atlanta
would be doomed to remain provincial backwaters while in the grip
of Jim Crow.
a mega-corporation decides on a course of even limited diversity
among its tens of thousands of employees, the imperatives of corporate
policy - matched with corporate power - can move significant numbers
of lives in new directions. People's activism provides the push
for social change but, once corporate institutions have been forced
into motion, they exert a powerful pull on everything around
them. Specifically, corporations have tremendous influence on American
higher education, which has been molded over generations to service
is not surprised that corporations are prominent supporters of the
besieged affirmative action program at the University of Michigan.
As the February
11 Washington Post reports:
the organizations and individuals who are planning to submit friend-of-the-court
briefs supporting the university are several dozen Fortune 500
companies, the nation's elite private universities and colleges,
the AFL-CIO, the American Bar Association - and a list of former
high-ranking military officers and civilian defense officials,
according to attorneys involved in the case....
powerful is this consensus that much of big business, a major
component of the Republican Party's political coalition, is parting
company with President Bush, who has sided with the white students
challenging Michigan's admissions programs as a form of "reverse
discrimination." Bush's brief agreed that diversity was a
"paramount" goal - but said Michigan should pursue it
by race-neutral means.
White Man's Party is a mechanism for gaining political support among
the racist American majority for the economic policies of rich.
It promises many things to people who - very much like the clinically
insane - operate in a false reality; huge numbers of whites believe
they are victimized by affirmative action, based on no personal
evidence whatsoever. Conversely, the corporate planner's job is
to see the world clearly, adjust to it, and influence the future
to his company's advantage.
understand that Black people will not allow the clock to be turned
back. These executives see no profit in fighting the tides of history.
Corporate defense of affirmative action is a testament to Black
American tenacity - recognition of our will to resist.
a lawyerly approach to affirmative action, we highly recommend Kimberle
W. Crenshaw's excellent piece at NorthStar
Network - a new and valuable Black political resource.
Crenshaw is a nationally recognized expert on critical race theory
and Professor of Law at UCLA Law School and Columbia University
Law School. Her treatise is titled, The Preference of White Privilege.
Action is often misunderstood as a preference, while the real
preferences that happen every day are virtually ignored in a discourse
that uses stereotypes and race baiting to do its work. Consider
the experiences of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Bush,
two names that will certainly come up in the conservative assault
on affirmative action. We know that tests tend to under-predict
the performance of certain members of the population, especially
people of color.
King's score on the GRE placed him in the bottom percentile of
all test takers, yet he is probably the most gifted orator and
one of the most brilliant visionaries of the 20th century. Think
about all the other would be gifted orators, surgeons, lawyers,
teachers, and business people whose potential remain tragically
wasted by unwarranted reliance on such an artificial benchmark
of merit as a test score. One the other hand, when we think about
preferences, let's consider our president, whose SAT score was
150 points below the average Yale matriculant. And who no doubt
benefited from his pedigree.
form of privileging constitutes a preference, the kind that is
most responsible for excluding the wealth of talent that would
otherwise gain access to higher education while maintaining white
hegemony. This simply shows the hypocrisy of the argument against
affirmative action; it's really not about equal opportunity or
merit at all. It is largely a racially coded, and delimited diatribe
that trains attention on those aspects of educational policy that
are least responsible for the current state of educational mis-opportunity.
read more, click
Black-white war divide
would require a multidisciplinary assemblage of experts to undertake
a meaningful study of why Blacks are underrepresented at anti-war
rallies. Two facts are, however, undeniable: the Black public has
consistently opposed U.S. military adventures during the past 40
years, and current African American political leadership - elected
and institutional - is generally reflective of that popular opposition.
felt justified in describing as The
Four Eunuchs those Black congresspersons that voted for Bush's
war powers resolution, in October. We knew with absolute certainty
that Harold Ford (TN), William Jefferson (LA), Sanford Bishop (GA)
and Albert Wynn (MD) had acted in scornful disregard of the sentiments
of the overwhelming majority of their Black constituents and a significant
minority of white voters in their districts - ironically, the same
white voters most likely to have supported them.
Journal-Constitution/Zogby America poll released this past weekend
shows that less than a quarter of Blacks (23 percent) support Bush's
war against Iraq, versus 62 percent of the white public. 64 percent
of Blacks surveyed "somewhat or strongly oppose" the planned
attack, while 13 percent "aren't sure" what to think.
bloodthirstiness of white American males is astounding: 68 percent
of men surveyed are gung ho, indicating that the white male pro-war
cohort soars somewhere in the high seventies. Less than half of
all women favor war.
polled nearly as warlike as whites. When asked the general question
on war, 60 percent support it.
lack of empathy with Iraqis as human beings marks white American
males as a collective danger to the species. Zogby pollsters asked:
Would you support or oppose a war against Iraq if it meant thousands
of Iraqi civilian casualties? A solid majority of white men answered
in the affirmative, as did more than a third of white women. Only
seven percent of African Americans favored a war that would kill
lost some of their bloodlust when confronted with the prospect of
mass Iraqi civilian casualties; only 16 percent are willing to support
such an outcome.
no stand up guy
Black Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel pointed out in a recent
television interview, George Bush spent months in hiding during
the Vietnam War, absenting himself from his Air National Guard unit
long enough to have earned a non-privileged officer five years at
Leavenworth. "There have been a lot of people who have stood
up for this country and I don't think that President Bush has been
in that number," said Rangel, a Korean War veteran, Iraq war
opponent, and sponsor of a bill to bring back compulsory national
Brits are headlining Rev. Jesse Jackson for this weekend's anti-war
demonstration, in London. Jackson believes that British public opinion
may be "more critical" to averting war than U.S. public
challenged British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush's principal yes-man
in Europe, to "use his talents" to find a peaceful solution.
Speaking to the British newspaper The
Independent, Jackson said:
think the people of Britain must pressure [Tony Blair]. He has
dug his heels in, but in a democracy while leaders speak, people
speak louder and people over the world are impressed by the demonstrations
of the people of London. It was the same with the demonstrations
in London over the freeing of Nelson Mandela. They have left a
very powerful impression on people around the world. There is
no future in war. The [London] marchers help the chance of people.
The [world] will be looking at them.
also sent an open letter to Saddam Hussein, whom he met prior to
the 1991 Gulf War. "Once more, I call on you with our countries
on the verge of war, just as I did 12 years ago. Once more, we face
a war of terrible consequence. Once more, I appeal to you to act
now to avoid the impending catastrophe," Jackson wrote. "Once
more the fate of your country lies in your hands. I beseech you
to act now, boldly, destroy your weapons to avoid a catastrophic
expect the Hyde Park demonstration to be Britain's biggest since
the end of World War Two. Protests are planned in at least 300 cities,
York police got a judge's permission to confine hundreds of thousands
of demonstrators to a strip of midtown Manhattan, Saturday. United
for Peace and Justice organizers had planned to march to the United
Nations headquarters, but police argued that the crowd would pose
a danger to public safety and the security of the UN. "We are
appalled by this attack on our basic First Amendment rights,"
said the organizers, calling the quarantine "an attempt to
stifle the growing opposition to Bush's war."
Danny Glover and South African Bishop Desmond Tutu accused New York
officials of acting in solidarity with Bush's war aims. "If
we were marching in support of war or in celebration of Saint Patrick's
Day or some other celebration, we would have been granted a permit
Glover. "It is tragic that this city, which prides itself
on leading the world as a cultural center, would not allow a march
at this time."
Tutu compared Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg's New York to apartheid-era
South Africa, adding that New York "will probably be the only
city in the world on February 15 that will not be permitting its
citizens and others to express a differing point of view."
lawyers say the city has not allowed any demonstrations south of
59th Street since September 11.
chairman Julian Bond and Martin Luther King III will also address
the rally. San Francisco will be the site of a major demonstration
A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition, which spearheaded the demonstrations in
Washington and San Francisco on October 26 and January 18, is in
the role of supporting player for this weekend's events. A.N.S.W.E.R.
organizers are already busy preparing for War Day, itself.
do not believe that war is inevitable," said the coalition.
"However, if the war starts we must be organized to resist
and disable the war machine." The group urges activists to
gather for emergency protests at pre-selected sites in their localities
on the day that war begins, and to prepare for a "Convergence
on White House," March 1.
comments are welcome. Visit the Contact
Us page for E-mail or Feedback.
here to return to the home page