Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Still crazy after all these years

Apologies to Paul Simon for the title of this post, but will someone please tell Congressman Bobby Rush that the race wars of the 1960's are over? This is a new time. That's not to say that as a nation we don't struggle with the ugliness of racism, bigotry and inequality. But now is not the time to lob molotov cocktails to reignite those race wars.

For those who don't know, Congressman Rush was a founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party, a group well known for its militant and confrontational tactics which gave it a reputation of being a black nationalist group. To be fair, the Black Panthers also engaged in human and social services in the African-American community, providing much-needed services in the community.

I know it's been a couple of days, but I still can't believe the words that have come out of Congressman Rush's mouth with regard to Governor Rod Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.

First, Rush compared Democratic U.S. Senators refusing to seat Blagojevich's choice to a lynch mob.
"Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the U.S. Senate," Rush said at the Blagojevich press conference yesterday. "I will ask you to not hang and lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer. I don't think that anyone -- any U.S. senator who's sitting in the Senate right now -- wants to go on record to deny one African-American for being seated in the U.S. Senate."
Not content to stop there, Rush then, despicably, compared the situation with the Burris appointment to the desegregation of public schools in the South on CBS' Early Show.
RODRIGUEZ: Yesterday we heard you say that they shouldn't hang and lynch the appointee to punish the appointer. But do you believe that this is the way the only African-American Senator should be seated? Tainted, rightly or not, by a scandal and against the objections of most of his own party?

Rep. RUSH: Well, let me just say this, you know, the recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there could be individuals and there could be situations where school children--where you have officials standing in the doorway of school children. You know, I'm talking about all of us back in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I'm talking about George Wallace, Bull Connors and I'm sure that the US Senate don't want to see themselves placed in the same position.
There is absolutely no reason to inject race into this process. This has never been about whether an African-American or any other minority, should or should not replace Barack Obama in the United States Senate. This is absolutely about whether or not a sitting governor under indictment for trying to sell a U.S. Senate, should be permitted to appoint a replacement. This is about whether any person appointed by that allegedly corrupt governor (and I use the term allegedly loosely) can serve and be effective in the position, given the circumstances surrounding the appointment.

Of course, Congressman Rush is free to state his opinion that an African-American should be appointed. I can support that position, given the lack of African-Americans in the Senate. But by making the comments he did, Bobby Rush shows himself to be no better than the people who showed up to McCain/Palin rallies and made racist remarks regarding President-elect Obama. There is no place in our society for this kind of discourse. There is much that we can learn by having civil conversations from people who are different from us.

Note: It's neither here nor there, but interesting to note that in 2000 Bobby Rush defeated Barack Obama in his challenge to the incumbent Congressman.


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