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Open season on Black politicians

Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 4:37 p.m.
It seems as though hunting season has begun, and it seems that politicians of color...
Open season on Black politicians

It seems as though hunting season has begun, and it seems that politicians of color are the main targets. Or maybe they always have been.

But the reactionary and repressive forces in our society seem to be unleashing aggressive attacks on African-Americans--particularly men--who have amassed unprecedented political power and influence at state and national levels.

Suddenly, we are seeing an America for the first time with a number of Black men with real political power. It is not just the president, Barack Obama, or our own Governor David Patterson, but Governor Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, Cong. Charlie Rangel running the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House and Cong. John Conyers running the equally powerful Judiciary Committee in the House,and Eric Holder as the top law enforcement official man for the country.

And unlike Clarence Thomas--who has sat on the Supreme Court for 19 years--and has never been an active voice for Black people or other minorities or women--in fact he is a mute, never asking questions in oral arguments or writing opinions supporting the issues of our community--these men have been active voices for minority and civil rights.

Has white America had just about enough? I dare say, "Yes."

It seems that as soon as the president was elected, a lot of white America said, "You got your president, isn't that enough? What else do you want?"

From the right-wing television and radio broadcasters to the viscous, right-wing newspaper columnists and reporters, the tenor of the discourse has been visceral and lacking any civility. White pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have had the nerve to all but call President Obama a racist, and their rabid fans and guests on their shows have called him everything from Hitler to a communist and have questioned his very legitimate right to be president by questioning his place of birth.

Few other conservatives in the media have tried to move the national conversation on to more reasonable political turf. Instead, they have stayed quiet, embarrassing themselves, and quite often, the Republican Party they are associated with.

Now, instead of talking about the merits of providing quality national health care to all--something that should be a basic right in a country as wealthy as the United States--the White House spent days defending the president's right to say to school children: "Stay in school. Do your best."

And whether you are talking about right-wingers or even some mainstream media, stories that would maybe have a shelf life of one news cycle are being played over and over for days and weeks on end with no real reason. No new information, no breaking news, just pure mean-spiritedness and lack of another person to go after. Politicians make good fodder, I guess--especially Black politicians.

* Regarding Governor Patterson, why was so much made of the unfortunate Caroline Kennedy appointment and so little made of his leadership on repealing the horrific Rockefeller drug laws that have help devastate rather than aid our community?

* Why were right-wing commentators given so much airtime for complaints and attacks when Attorney General Eric Holder said he was going to return the battered Justice Department to its historic role of civil rights enforcement for minorities,a role that many in mainstream media ignored as the Bush administration savaged and politicized the department during its tenure?

* And why now that for the first time in 12 years, New York City has a viable African-American candidate for mayor--Bill Thompson--has the mainstream media done everything in its power to ensure that Mayor Bloomberg will have an illegal third term-- thwarting the people's will in two citywide referendums?

A few weeks ago, I was verbally assaulted by the right-wing columnist Fred Dicker from that racist rag The New York Post (which, incidentally, was owned for a few days by the former publisher of the AmNews, the now-deceased Wilbert A. Tatum). In his assault, he dared me to name any incidents in which the Post has been racist. How quickly he and his colleagues forget the infamous chimpanzee cartoon from earlier this year. Only after an uproar from our community did the Post and its pugnacious owner, Rupert Murdoch, begrudgingly apologize.

These are just a few examples facing Black political men and our community. One wonders: Are these positions and attacks because some folks simply are uncomfortable with Black men holding power or because they simply abhor Black men in general?