Gonzalez.ricar 2008-09-20 13:09:49
The NAACP has lost its vision \ Linda Chavez \ July 16, 2003
The NAACP is America’s oldest civil rights organization, and for years
stood as the moral conscience of the nation, fighting for the rights
of black Americans to equal treatment at the polling booth, in the
schoolhouse, in the courts and in the marketplace. How sad, now, that
this venerable institution has been turned into a caricature of its
Its leaders are stuck in a time warp, imagining they still live in a
world of pick-ax-wielding bigots and lynch mobs. NAACP chairman Julian
Bond, a veteran of the civil rights movement and a former Georgia
state legislator, has been reduced to ugly name-calling in order to
attract media attention. At the NAACP convention meeting in Florida
this week, Bond accused the Republican Party of “appealing to the dark
underside of American culture. . . . Their idea of reparations is to
give war criminal Jefferson Davis a pardon. Their idea of equal rights
is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by
side,” he told a cheering crowd.
The group no longer has an agenda, other than to “uproot the bigger
‘(B)ush’ in 2004,” as Bond promised. But the putatively non-partisan
group may run into problems fulfilling that goal, given its declining
The NAACP has become so irrelevant that even Democratic presidential
aspirants — none of whom could hope to be elected without winning 90
percent of black votes nationwide — can afford to boycott the group’s
annual meeting. Senators Joe Lieberman and Dennis Kucinich and former
Missouri congressman and House minority leader D*** Gephardt all had
“other commitments” that prevented them from attending the convention.
Julian Bond may not recognize it, but racism is no longer the major
problem facing American blacks. For the minority of black Americans —
23 percent — who lived below the poverty line in 2001, discrimination
isn’t to blame.
What is? A list of likely culprits would surely include the collapse
of the black family, the failure of the public schools and
National Center for Health statistics indicate that with two out of
three black babies born to unwed mothers today, black children are far
more likely to grow up poor than youngsters from any other group. And
according to the Census Bureau, black children in single mother
households are nearly five times more likely to live in poverty than
are black children born to two-parent families; 47 percent of black
youngsters under 18 who live in female-headed households are poor
compared to only 10 percent who live with two parents. The problem of
illegitimacy has plagued the black community for nearly 40 years, but
goes unaddressed by the NAACP or any other major black organization.
Julian Bond did talk about education in his convention address, but
most of what he said took the form of vicious attacks on both Gov. Jeb
Bush’s and President Bush’s education reform efforts. “Gov. Jeb Bush’s
notion of school reform is going to send black children to reform
school,” Bond said of Florida’s efforts to put an end to promoting
kids from grade to grade even if they haven’t learned anything.
So-called “social promotions” have resulted in schools graduating
black high school seniors who — on average — read at the
Bond also talked about crime — but his sympathies were directed
exclusively to the criminals. He bemoaned the sorry fact that 12
percent of all black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are
incarcerated, and the NAACP has made voting rights for felons one of
its top legislative priorities in recent years. But what about the
black victims on whom these criminals prey, the men and women who work
hard everyday, only to be beaten, robbed, raped and murdered, not by
Ku Klux Klansmen but by predators in their own communities? If the
NAACP were truly concerned for the plight of black Americans, wouldn’t
it be pushing for more police and tougher sentences for violent
offenders, not worrying about whether it can deliver more jailhouse
votes to the Democratic Party?
There is much work left to be done if the lives of America’s poorest
blacks are to improve — but the NAACP seems to have little interest
in tackling the really tough issues. Instead, its leaders would rather
blame racism and Republicans, and look to government to solve the
problems of a community whose only hope is to heal itself.
Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a
TownHall.com member organization.
2003 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Contact Linda Chavez | Read Chavez’s biography
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