Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oh Colin!

Colin Powell.  An American hero.

Secretary Colin Powell, a Harlem-born four-star general, served presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush in a variety of positions from National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to Secretary of State.  He was plucked from a successful military career by Republicans and served with distinction as one of the nation’s most visible black Republicans for decades and was among the nation’s most accomplished – period.  Before presenting the evidence to the United Nations Security Council that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (which turned out to not be true), Powell was encouraged to run as the first viable black presidential candidates.  It was widely believed that the job was his for the asking. He was a proud Republican.

Then something went terribly wrong.  I don’t know if it was the aftermath of not finding weapons of mass destruction, the bad blood that seemed obvious between him and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (and maybe the Bush Administration itself), or the chance for a black man to be president that turned Powell from a committed Republican to a RINO (Republican in Name Only). Maybe he was just faking his GOP bone fides all along.
In 2008, Powell not only endorsed Barack Obama for president, but also slammed the GOP in the process.  Powell said he has some concerns about the direction of the Republican Party, adding that it has "moved more to the right than I would like to see it."

Then again in 2012, Powell endorsed the re-election of President Obama which was no surprise.  He eloquently gave song and verse about the great job the president had done in his first term both domestically and internationally despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary (i.e. longest and highest period of unemployment since World War II, anemic economic growth, no budget in four years, highest number of Americans on food stamps in history, and the highest accumulation of national debt for any single president). 

Then on January 13, 2013 on NBC’s Meet the Press with David Gregory, long after the president’s electoral victory, Powell dug in some more and outright attacked the GOP. He is now famous for saying the GOP has a “dark vein of intolerance that runs through some parts of the party.” 

Now, all of his remarks would normally hold some credibility just because of who he is.  However, Vice President Biden told blacks in Alabama during the 2012 presidential campaign that if the GOP had their way, they would put blacks back in chains. Powell had no outrage for an obvious attempt by the vice president to pander to race using the offensive jargon of the past while calling upon the worse period in black history all in the name of gaining political points.  Powell’s silence and lack of commentary was conspicuously curious.

He also said on Meet the Press, the GOP still sort of looks down on minorities evidenced by references to the president as “shucking and jiving” and “lazy” during the first debate against Romney.

Yes I understand the use of those terms harken us back to darker days.  Powell is stuck in the mud as it relates to the use of derogatory jargon of the past but it only seems to disturb him when “his GOP party” leaders use it. (See Biden’s remarks above.) 
Aren’t the likes of Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Joe Biden’s “black voice” used only when talking to blacks equally offensive? Consistent righteous indignation would be more believable Mr. Secretary.

The GOP looks down on minorities?  Really? Did Powell forget that he was a part of the past Republican administrations that gave America Clarence Thomas, a black Supreme Court Justice, Condoleezza Rice, a black female Secretary of State, and himself, as the first black Secretary of State? These opportunities have not existed in the Carter, Clinton or Obama administrations.  What in the world is Powell talking about?

Powell would be more credible by acknowledging that the first black president has no black cabinet members; that black unemployment has soared under this black president with no end in sight for four years; that Republican presidents have done more to place blacks in high levels of government authority than any Democrats to date; and he might also note that many Democrat-led policies have failed minorities all across the country as they remain stuck under growing government entitlement programs.

Secretary Powell would also regain some stature by simply telling America the truth.  He should say, “I am not a Republican and have not been for some time.”  A committed Republican would give direction and aid to construct, build, and inspire party leaders and the electorate.  Instead, Powell gives criticism to destroy, tear down and discourage everyone.

Secretary Powell. If you are trying to prove there is room in the GOP tent for a progressive liberal like yourself, please don’t do Republicans any more favors.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Finest Words Ever Spoken

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is the most inspiring holiday of our American calendar experience for me.  It is a time when the country and the black community together reflect on the civil rights journey (struggle) for freedom—the struggle to be free from racial discrimination, free from the effects of systematic oppression, and free from societal exclusion.

However, in the pursuit to be free from oppression, in this post-civil rights era, it is clear blacks have had a hand in enslaving themselves.  Blacks are leaders of single parent households, blacks are 40% of the prison inmate population but are only 13% of the general population, blacks have the greatest high school dropout rates, and black males are less likely to go to college compared to their white counterparts.  These numbers are in large measure a reflection of personal choice and the failure to take personal responsibility to walk in the freedom blacks earned. Blacks have become their own oppressor with no one to blame now but themselves.

We need to replay some of the least quoted words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In his “Where Do We Go From Here” speech.  He said, in part:

“Believe in yourself and believe you are somebody.  And as I said to a group last night, nobody else can do this for us.  No document can do this for us.  No Lincolnian Emancipation Proclamation can do this for us, no Kennesodian or Johnsonian civil rights bill can do this for us.  If the Negro is to be free he must move down into the inner resources of his own soul and sign with a pen and ink of self-assertive manhood his own emancipation proclamation.”

And so as we reflect yet again during this MLK holiday season, will we merely reminisce over the success of the civil rights era and lament the loss of a great man and leader? Will we look inwardly and reflect on what we believe about ourselves? (Is your self-esteem intact?) Will we lament our own failures in not taking up the mantel of personal responsibility to realize our own Emancipation Proclamation written with a pen and ink of self-assertive manhood? Or will we wait to celebrate a great man yet another year hence?  

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