Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Protesters are Today’s Confederates

“A zebra does not change its stripes”
African Proverb

Confederates never die.

During the final hours of the American health care debate this week protesters opposed to President Obama and health care insurance reform shouted “nigger” and “faggot” at members of Congress supporting the idea that health care should be deemed a federal right and not merely a state privilege. In fact, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver reported that he was spat upon while moving through the raucous and racially motivated protesters. Really?

For the record, Union forces defeated Confederate traitors in the American Civil War at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865. The Union stood for freedom, federal authority, and the Untied States of America. The Confederates stood for slavery, secession, and states’ rights.

At the War’s end race-conscious resisters to federal authority extending American benefits such as emancipation, citizenship, and voting rights of African Americans protested by domestic terrorism by the formation of the Ku Klux Klan.

In 1954, following the Supreme Court ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case a small but vocal portion of White Americans protested court-ordered racial desegregation with racial epitaphs and spitting upon school students and those seeking to desegregate lunch counters. The disdain for racial desegregation was so high in the Commonwealth of Virginia that the state closed entire school districts rather than comply with federal law. For example, in his seminal book, In the Matter of Color, the late Judge A. Leon Higginbotham revealed that Virginia led the protest movement against racial desegregation with a policy plan known as Massive Resistance. The most counter intuitive policy was to pay out-of-state university tuition rather than admit African Americans to Virginia colleges and universities.

Likewise, ten years later following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 idiots outnumbered ideas in the rancorous race protesters. The idea of complying to federal law allowing all Americans to eat, sleep, and shop where they pleased—regardless of race—was resisted with unspeakable words and acts.

Today, health care protesters are once again spitting shouted racist phrases at people of color who wish nothing more than the United States of America to honor her words of “all men [and women] are created equal.” Of course, today’s race haters claim policy, not pigment, propels their protests. Really? Such claims are refuted by the fact that they did not protest the policies of George W. Bush’s Administration with such vitriol public actions. After all, if money and federal monitoring were actually the primary issue in health care insurance reform today than the Bush education policy of No Child Left Behind would have also riled today’s resisters. No Child Left Behind was a federal mandate costing hundreds of billions of dollars monitored by the federal government.
Beyond the speeches of last week protesters actually stormed the U.S. Capitol requiring Congressional staffers to remain in their respective offices. Imagine if a crowd of Black protesters had shouted racial slurs, spat upon Member of Congress, and stormed the Capitol Building? In such a case, the National Guard would have more than likely have been dispatched. Moreover, if a Black Congressional leader used profanity in a floor speech as House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH) did, the Congress would have punished that member.
As I listened to, read, and viewed news accounts of the protests this week the constant theme was a “divided policy debate” between supporters of different policy views. Little mention was made of spitting, slurs, and Congressman Boehner’s profane outburst.
As was the case with all-White Confederates during the American Civil War today’s protesters concentrate more on the color of the policy formulator (president Obama) and beneficiaries (poor Black and Brown) than the content of legislation.
Similar to race resisters of yesteryear the Attorney General of Virginia has announced his intention to resist federal authority for health insurance reform by litigation. Confederates never die; they multiply.
By the way, 22 of 34 Democrats who voted against President Obama’s health care insurance reform are from former Confederate or slave states. Hmmmm.

In linking leadership,

Gary L. Flowers
Executive Director & CEO
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.
633 Pennsylvania Ave
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20004
Office: 202.689.1965
Fax: 202.689.1954
Cell: 773.230.3554

Monday, March 15, 2010

Increasing Jobs is Job One

Increasing Jobs is Job One
By Gary L. Flowers
Executive Director & CEO
Black Leadership Forum, Inc.
March 8 - 15, 2010

“Equality means dignity. And dignity demands a job and a paycheck that lasts through the week ”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Let’s begin with the obvious in our nation’s joblessness crisis—there are more workers than jobs available. Conversely, there are fewer jobs than workers who need employment. That said, the question of our times is how to put Mr. and Mrs. Humpty Unemployed Dumpty back together again.

As the Obama Administration and Congress address the issue of historically-high unemployment in the United States of America I have an idea: Think big. Given America’s unemployment crisis looms large, so too should be the response by representatives of the government. Lessons learned—good and bad—from the Great Depression of 1930-41 are useful today.

President Franklin Roosevelt thought big when America needed it most. In his 1944 State of the Union Speech he said, “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. ‘Necessitous men [and women] are not free men [and women].’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”

In 1963, nineteen years later, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the issue of America’s unemployment in his famous speech of 1963. Contrary to the main-streamed media’s marketing of the speech’s title as “I Have a Dream”, Dr. King’s message that hot humid August day in Washington, DC was America had broken her promise to all of its people, particularly African Americans who then could not enjoy public accommodations, the right to vote, or the right to live where they chose. In short, Dr. King said that the people in whose honor the National Mall monuments and memorials symbolized promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans. President Lincoln by way of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Jefferson via the United States Constitution. And Congress through the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. All promised. All broken.

Months before his tragic assassination in 1968, Dr. King prophetically proclaimed in his platform for the Poor People’s March of 1968 that all Americans should have the right to a job and a livable wage. Dr. King did not live to see his dream of America’s broken promise in employment kept by full employment.

Today, the Obama Administration has such an opportunity.

I agree with L Randall Wray who offers in the book Understanding Modern Money the following commonsensical ideas for jobs for the jobless:
• Companions to the elderly, orphans, physically challenged, mental health patients
• Public school classroom assistants who tutor reading, writing, and math (also aides for school field trips and after-school programs)
• Child-care assistants, and Head Start assistants
• Safety monitors and facilitators assigned to public school playgrounds and transit hubs
• Neighborhood and road clean-up crews
• Home insulation assistants for low-income housing
• Environmental safety monitors testing lead paint levels, water quality, and beach contamination
• Improvement teams for national and state parks
• Artiists, musicians and performers for public schools
• Community and cultural historians
• Public assistants to monitor government regulations
• Prison and juvenile facility education assistants

Mr. Wray’s list makes so much sense, not to mention the need for massive public works jobs. As such, the federal government would become the “employer of last resort.”

Why not guarantee all Americans a job with a livable wage by Constitutional Amendment?

Such ideas are out-of-the-box big. America’s founding is a big idea