White Supremacy vs. Republican Racism

In his very interesting new book, "What Color Is A Conservative?" Congressman J.C. Watts writes,

"Jack Kemp rightly said that it would be a tragic mistake for the party of Lincoln and Douglass to concede the support of minority Americans to the Democrats. It would be a betrayal of the party's history. And the Democrat Party has its own history to deal with too, too. I once did an online chat for the Washington Post, and someone e-mailed me this question: "How can you be in a party with a guy like Strom Thurmond when he said in 1948 'We don't have enough men in the Army to deseregate public schools'?"

I wrote back, "You can look at the early 1960s when we had a Democrat who stood in the door of the University of Alabama and said, 'As long as I am governor of this state, no Negro will walk through these doors.' Or go back to the same time and see a Democrat National Committeeman by the name of Bull Conner who turned fire hoses on black people because they wanted to sit at lunch counters in Birmingham. Or today, we've got a U.S. senator on the Democrat side who used to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan." There is plenty of shame to go around in both parties.

Anyone familiar with how Blacks are treated in the political profession by Whites knows that the effort to oppose Trent Lott, by members of the Black political establishment is largely, but not entirely, a disingenuous partisan charade, more than it is any outgrowth of the best motives of the civil rights movement.

Yesterday, during the Sunday morning talk shows I received a call from a friend - a Black professional Democrat - and we discussed the brouhaha over Senator Trent Lott.

This person was articulate about the fact that the quest to have Senator Lott's hide was a political undertaking that by itself would not reap any real benefits for those individuals who are genuinely concerned about ending America's racial divide. And this person explained that members of the Black political establishment and professional Black Democrats know, better than anybody, about the racial glass ceiling that exists in their own party. I posed a question, for this person which really goes to the crux of the matter for me. I asked, " Do you think that there is any difference in the way that White Democrats and White Republicans feel and think, in their hearts and minds, about Blacks?" The answer I received was, " No, not really. Some say it is often a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. But who is really the lesser of the two evils? You have to look at the Republican and Democratic parties in the same way that you look at racism as it existed in the North and South. One side openly doesn't give you s--- and the other side says it does, but really doesn't give you s---. White men run both political parties and deny opportunities for advancement to qualified Blacks. So, who is really the lesser of two evils?"

Can anyone really prove that Trent Lott is more racist than say Bill Clinton, by a measure of policies and deeds? Sure Senator Trent Lott may long for a bygone segregated era, but it wasn't Trent Lott that endorsed policies that resulted in the incarceration of more Black men than ever before in any 8-year period in American history. More Black men were put in jail under President Clinton than under Presidents Reagan and Bush (43) combined. Sure Trent Lott may have a slew of "Strom Thurmond For President" bumper stickers in his closet but it wasn't Trent Lott, or Strom Thurmond, who, as President, ended the welfare program that Black leaders vociferously argued was necessary to keep a firm safety net in place. And when the talk of "mending" affirmative action arose; it was President Bill Clinton, who, from the White House led the way, not Senator Trent Lott. It wasn't Trent Lott who made an absolute fool of Rev. Jackson - at the civil rights leader's own convention - and demonized a Black woman and pillar of the Hip-Hop community, Sister Souljah, in order to show White America that he would not be under the influence of the wishes of the Black electorate or its leaders.

And it wasn't Trent Lott or even the Republican Party that received a letter signed by 19 members of the Congressional Black Caucus charging the Democratic Party with racism in its hiring practices and issue prioritization. Here is the text of an article concerning that, as it appeared in The Final Call online on May 22, 2001:

Lawmakers rip Democrats for plantation politics

by Nisa Islam Muhammad

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com)
—They’ve been loyal, faithful, dedicated and they deliver the vote. But ever since Blacks came to the Democratic Party, they’ve been the victims of discrimination.

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, in a strongly worded letter to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association, complained loyalty isn’t rewarded by hiring of Black media and political consultants for polling, media buying, merchandising or other campaign work.

And while Black votes benefit white Democratic candidates, reciprocal support is rarely enjoyed when Blacks seek elected positions outside of majority minority districts, the Black Caucus members added.

"We need to take the gloves off and tell it straight," said Rep. Earl Hilliard, (D-Ala.). "The Democratic Party has discriminatory practices. Not only in their hiring practices but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is structured to discriminate. Were tired of being discriminated against and being taken for granted."

Blacks are the most devoted Democratic Party voting bloc, providing more than 50 percent of the votes needed to win statewide elections in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi and South Carolina and at least 25 percent of the vote necessary to win many other states, the letter said.

Black elected officials, the letter continued, are usually the most dependable members of the Democratic Legislative Caucus and most ardent supporters of Democratic candidates.

Still Blacks are rarely recruited for and are discouraged from seeking top offices, the lawmakers said. A fierce battle took place between former Bill Clinton money-raiser Terrance McAuliffe and former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson for DNC chairman earlier this year.

Mr. Jackson lost the battle and agreed to serve as the DNC national development chair, as part of a compromise with Blacks upset by a Clinton annointment of Mr. McAuliffe with no Black consultation. Mr. Jackson is now responsible for chairing the new DNC Voting Rights Institute, leading the DNC in developing its equal opportunity program and assisting state and local party organizations.

He was unavailable for comment on this article.

Perhaps most importantly, Black Caucus members said important constituent issues, such as affirmative action, mandatory sentencing, and redistricting, are often afforded second tier exposure by Democratic Party organizations.

"We need to move beyond junior partner status," said Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), who was one of 19 Black Caucus members to sign the letter.

Jim Jordan, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, wrote to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Missi.), "It is undoubtedly true that the DSCC and many of our candidates have not done nearly enough to foster strong connections or to exploit the political experience, expertise, and professionalism in the African-American community. In short, your criticisms have hit home. We are resolved to do better."

"The Democratic Party will never be as great as it can until African Americans are true partners," warns Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a Black Democratic congresswoman from Michigan. "We want to win but the win won’t happen if we’re not thoroughly involved. It is an advantage to the party to include us. The other party is recruiting heavily."

Mr. McAuliffe, bruised in the contest for DNC chair, came aboard with promises to make changes. Democrats will run diverse campaigns that include important core groups, "union members, women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, Gays and Lesbians—we want you as candidates and we want you to run our campaigns," he said.

Again, it is no secret. The very same Black political leaders out front in the quest to oust Senator Lott, mumble, on a weekly basis about the racism that is practiced within their own party. But the sum of the arrangement between most Black professional Democrats, its political establishment, and the White Party leadership is that these Blacks on the inside won't ever expose to the masses of Black people the full extent of the blatant racism that they experience, which is exactly the same treatment that many Blacks, in corporate America receive. No difference, other than the pr charade that Democrats have perfected, relative to the masses. Silence and loyalty in the face of mistreatment, in exchange for access, a little progress, and a paycheck. As an example of how it works, I wrote at BlackElectorate.com on March 3, 2001, in an op-ed called, "On Senator Byrd And 'White Niggers'", about the deafening silence from Black Democrats after Senator Robert Byrd (W.VA) used the word "nigger" in a nationally-televised interview on Fox News Sunday:

...could it be that Black people have assigned a new qualification to Whites who use the "n-word" - that somehow it maybe OK for a White man to use the term "nigger" provided that he had the letter "D" affixed to his name indicating his political party affiliation.

Certainly, the John Ashcroft supporters took notice, wondering how it was acceptable to use the word "nigger" and to have once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan if you are a White Democratic Senator, but somehow not acceptable if you read or dare give an interview to Southern Partisan magazine.

Could it be that the "R" attached to John Ashcroft's name is more diabolical in the eyes of Black Democrats than Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)'s use of the actual word, "nigger" or his past KKK affiliation?

Maybe Shelby Steele is correct to say that many Blacks, particularly in the civil rights movement, now define themselves first and foremost in terms of their political affiliation.

In the entire week that I have spoken to Blacks that I know about the Lott controversy, not a single person has said that they were surprised by what came out of Senator Lott's mouth. Nor has a single person expressed their conviction that White Democrats are any less racist than White Republicans. And this includes the views of Black Republicans who make the case that racism abounds on both sides of the political spectrum. Armstrong Williams, Star Parker, Thomas Sowell and John McWhorter - leading black conservative opinion leaders - have all criticised Senator Lott for his comments. But what has been the Black Republican/Conservative motive? Has it really been a quest to stamp out racism wherever it appears? Or have their pens been guided by a short-term need to put out a fire that threatens not only their own credibility as conservatives but also the inroads that the movement was making within the Black electorate, via the Republican Party?

So if not a deep sincere committment to eradicate racism and repair the damage of slavery, on either side, what is this controversy really all about?

Well, that remains to be seen, as a lot of good can come out of a serious conversation about race, when it takes place. Perhaps this controversy is a catalyst for such a badly-needed undertaking. But will we really get that awesome result from this current superficial exercise? Or will we ultimately be innundated with politically-correct statements, symbolic gestures, photo-ops, apologies and rhetoric and that which falls short of the real process of repair, reconciliation and atonement that is required to overcome America's racial divide?

Certainly, the Black community should know better than to fall into a superficial partisan discussion of the most serious problem that has ever faced this country, of which which they are at the center. While it is good to hear the subject of race relations verbally acknowledged, right now it looks like White Republicans are most interested in overcoming an image problem that could cost them votes; while White Democrats are interested in scoring quick political points after a poor showing in an election.

So, the subject and headline may read "Senator Lott Makes Racist Comments" but the game is still the same, for the two parties. And Blacks are still pawns, on both sides.

It is a shame that leading Black surrogates are helping to forward such limited partisan objectives in the face of the yet unsolved problems that are the real legacy of slavery and racism.

The real issue is the dual White Supremacy and Black Inferiority complex, which abounds in every sector of American life - certainly not just in a single political party. The Republican Party racism and Democratic Party benevolence debate is a smokescreen. It is a classic example of how the two-party system controls the debate on race in this country in a manner that prevents freedom, justice and equality for Blacks.

Hopefully Blacks will see through it all, and invest their newfound "unity" against Senator Trent Lott, into an effort aimed at obtaining true repair for the suffering and destruction they have endured in this country. How about turning partisan warfare cloaked in race, into a true war on racism?

Here's to a Black united front on that issue.

Cedric Muhammad

Monday, December 16, 2002