Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Should Cynthia join Ann & Roy in the CROD Club?

I've previously posted on Ann Coulter and Roy Moore being "crazy as a run over dog" yet I've nearly decided Cynthia McKinney is also worthy of admission. I've listened to Ms. McKinney's fracas being discussed on Ed Norton's PBS "News and Notes" and read several news articles yet Cynthia Tucker makes a lot of sense, as she usually does, in her AJC editorial from today. She opines,

There is a lot of bad news in black America.

After a decade of rising affluence, poverty (among blacks and whites) is on the upswing. Marriage is out of fashion, but diabetes, hypertension and heart failure are not. We die sooner than whites. And black men remain disproportionately shut out of the mainstream — unemployed, on drugs, in prison.

So if black activists and political leaders are looking for matters crying out for redress or reform or fairness, I could give them a list. Cynthia McKinney's complaints would not be on it.

If you're going to call a press conference and muster such prominent supporters as Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, you ought to be sure the issue is important enough to command national attention. You should save that sort of clarion call for the most serious matters — renewing the Voting Rights Act or raising the minimum wage so that more black men can support their children. The precious spotlight of national news coverage should not be wasted on a spoiled and demanding congresswoman who thinks she's the Soul Queen of Capitol Hill.

Nor should the Abrams tank of political warfare — the charge of "racism" — be rolled out to fight every minor battle. Racism is a shadow of its former self, but it lives yet. You see it in the high rates of harsh discipline meted out to black boys in public schools. You can also see it in the disproportionate numbers of black men sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit.Certainly, the legacy of racism is alive and well. You can see it in the self-destructive behavior of so many young black men — the internecine violence, the distorted self-esteem, the worship of thug culture. You can see the legacy of racism in the enduring rates of poverty and poor health among black citizens.

But McKinney's trumped-up charge of racism merely cheapens the term, so that it's less effective when it's needed to discuss genuine discrimination. ...

Last month, The New York Times ran a front-page story outlining the dire social and economic prospects for young black men. According to a number of recent academic studies, black men, despite the obvious successes of a few, are falling further and further behind, locked in place as a permanent underclass. "Especially in the country's inner cities, the studies show, finishing high school is the exception, legal work is scarcer than ever and prison is almost routine, with incarceration rates climbing for blacks even as urban crime rates have declined," the article said.

I waited for somebody to call a press conference. I waited for Jesse and Al to take to the streets demanding public policies that would bring black men into the mainstream. I looked for responses from the usual suspects — the NAACP, the Urban League and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. I heard nothing.

But a misunderstanding between a second-rate member of Congress and a Capitol Hill police officer has apparently become a full-blown crisis. So maybe I'm wrong about all of this. Perhaps I just need to adjust my perspective.

Perhaps the fact that one-third of young black men have police records is not a problem. Maybe the fact that 70 percent of black children are born outside the bonds of marriage is no big deal, and a 72 percent unemployment rate among black male high school drop-outs in their 20s does not signal a crisis. Maybe the serious decline in the marriage rate among black adults does not suggest the demise of a community.

No, indeed. The biggest problem facing black America involves a white cop who wouldn't give a black woman her props.

I have seen interviews in the past and certainly recently of Ms. McKinney where she came across very poorly. For some time I've tried to give this woman the benefit of the doubt. I will wait for further information about the incident in DC and agree that perhaps the police officer could have handled it another way. Still, I expect Congresswoman McKinney should have as well. Perhaps her skin color or change in hair style had something to with the fact she was not recognized. Indeed Capitol Hill cops should know members of Congress. But she's hardly placing herself in a good light with her recent actions. Democrats, uhm, "We can do better!". Peace ... or War!