Last week, President Bush continued his policy of feeding the hand that bites him. In the past, he has allowed Ted Kennedy to gut his education policy, petitioned intransigent Democrats to reform Social Security and Medicare, and sent representatives to reason with Cindy Sheehan. (Who says Bush doesn’t understand when he’s involved in a quagmire?)
This time, Bush went hat-in-hand to one of the prime forces in the racial grievance industry (behind Rainbow/PUSH and CAIR) and learned firsthand that capitulation does not pay.
After a five-year boycott, Bush spoke before the NAACP, the organization that blamed him for the dragging death of James Byrd during an election year. This is the same group chaired by Julian Bond. A few months ago, Bond said, “The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side” and likened President Bush’s judicial selections to the Taliban. (Although Bond disputes the Nazi remark, a reporter present confirms it.) Despite this unsavory comparison, Bond wrote a comic book in 1967 presenting Ho Chi Minh as a freedom fighter and comparing the Viet Cong to colonial Minutemen.
The NAACP has never withdrawn its ridiculous Byrd blood libel, nor has it apologized for any of its rhetorical excesses (at least publicly). Nevertheless, Bush agreed to address the organization. Bond rewarded Bush’s senseless act of kindness with a lampooning speech that again invoked James Byrd and derided the idea that the real problems facing the black community are “crime, teen-age pregnancy, welfare dependency, and family disintegration.” (Bill Cosby would add inadequate education and Ebonics.) The second half of his speech exhorted his crowd, “Oppose we must.”
The well sufficiently poisoned, Bush’s biggest applause line of the night should have come as no surprise: “I understand that many African-Americans distrust my political party.”
The president won plaudits for acknowledging the obvious: “I understand that racism still lingers in America.” So do sexism, “homophobia,” and road rage. Such you have with you always; no law can make people love each other. However, to the extent that government policy encourages racism, it is not anti-black.
This is due in no small part to the NAACP, which for decades has made its top priority opposition to a color-blind society. In addition to promoting Affirmative Action, the allied NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund is heavily involved in overturning a several-hundred-year tradition and granting convicted felons the franchise. “It is time to erase felon disfranchisement laws from the books,” its website overkills. “Indeed, the integrity and legitimacy of America’s democracy, and the fulfillment of the promise of the Voting Rights Act and the human sacrifice that led to its passage, depends on it.” To honor the memory of the people who marched at Selma, the NAACP-LDEF has joined in unsuccessful cases such as Farrakhan v. Gregoire.
The fact that “many African-Americans distrust” the president’s political party also has roots with the organization. The NAACP-LDEF filed NAACP v. Harris following the 2000 presidential election, claiming President Bush stole the 2000 election in Florida. (Florida settled in return for making improvements in voter registration.) During that election, this organization theorizes, thousands of blacks were “denied the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the political process.”
The organization not only never withdrew this baseless allegation but cranked up the crank factor in 2004. This time, they accused Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, himself a black man, of throwing the election for Bush. They joined numerous rallies at the state capital of Columbus, including one co-sponsored by “The Pissed Off Voters of Ohio.” More than a month after the election, Greg Moore, executive director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, demanded “a recount of all the votes cast on November 2, 2004, in the state of Ohio; something that never happened in Florida four years ago.” “By almost all independent accounts, had the 2000 Florida recount not been halted by the U.S. Supreme Court in December of 2000, it would have led to the election and inauguration of Vice President Al Gore as president,” he misinformed Buckeye voters.
Conspiracymongering, though, is something of a staple of the modern NAACP, ever desperate to legitimize its continued existence. At the same NAACP conference graced by the Leader of the Free World, “comedian” Dick Gregory insisted white devils are poisoning black people’s food and drink – and worse, beer! “I murder because something’s in my food, something’s in my water,” he said on behalf of all murderers-of-color. He found evidence the FBI keeps files proving “polluted water can cause brain damage that turns ordinary people into violent criminals.” That’s why honkies deliberately spike malt liquor with manganese, because, “Once you get so much manganese in you, you will kill your momma.”
Such rhetoric belongs in meetings of the Ku Klux Klan. It begs the question why the commander-in-chief of the world’s only superpower would want to be associated with such nonsense.
Bush’s motives, as always, were pure: he wanted to improve his image in the black community and used the NAACP gatekeepers to gain access. However, such a group will never enthusiastically respond to the president’s message…about cutting the estate tax. Not speaking at the NAACP two more years would not have hurt him; it apparently cost him no significant support in the past two elections. Had he wished to make a play as “a uniter not a divider,” he could have made an end-run around these leftist gatekeepers, addressing those black churches that would welcome him. He mentioned his friendship with Rev. Tony Evans in his remarks; he could have appeared on Evans’ nationally syndicated radio program, carried on more than 500 radio stations. He could have spoken with other dynamic figures respected in “the black community.” (Joe Clark is still a Republican.) Better yet, he could have cultivated and appeared with a new generation of black leadership that sees the value in reforming Social Security, increasing home ownership, and holding non-performing schools accountable.
Instead, he squandered a speech by honoring an organization that will never share his politics, that is dedicated to racial demagoguery and vapid fearmongering, and that attacked him before, during, and after his speech.
Bush really should have learned: rewarding one’s enemies is no more successful at home than it is abroad.
This article first appeared on Monday, July 24, 2006, on FrontPage Magazine.