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Op Ed Article



Lips Dripping With Hypocrisy

By Niger Innis




August, 2004

August 28, 2004 is the 41st anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  What would he make of the following?


On the official Kerry/Edwards web site there is a section in which “civil rights” is discussed under a headline of “equal opportunity for all.”  Beneath the headline is a picture of Senator Kerry addressing a large gathering, and behind him are children who are of obviously different ethnic backgrounds.


Then there are these words:


“We've removed the barriers of hate that kept us from drinking at the same water fountain or attending the same school. Now, John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to help all Americans continue on our journey to remove the barriers that keep us from drinking at the same fountain of opportunity.”


If only this were true.  John Kerry and John Edwards have the power to back up this empty platitude with actual action, but to date they have failed to live up to their own rhetoric.  In fact, their actions completely contradict these hollow words.


A California State Supreme Court Justice named Janice Rogers Brown languishes in legislative limbo because Democratic Senators including Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards refuse to lift a finger to help her.  Judge Brown has been nominated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Bush and her nomination has been voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor.


By everyone’s counting she would be confirmed by a majority of Senators, but Senators Kerry, Edwards, Kennedy and other Democrats are blocking a full Senate vote on Judge Brown.  Despite Judge Brown’s outstanding qualifications and a record of excellence, many of these white Senators are standing in front of the courthouse door and denying this African-American woman an opportunity she has earned.


Senators Kerry, Edwards and Kennedy have spent much of their careers championing the cause of blacks and women, railing relentlessly against the “glass ceiling” that especially prevents women from achieving equal status with men in the workplace.  But when it is completely in their power to strike a blow for equality and break through that ceiling, they become a toxic mixture of chauvinism and segregation.


The arrogance of these actions is, perhaps, driven by polls that tell them they can take black votes for granted.  The 2000 election saw 90 percent or more of African-Americans supporting Al Gore over George W. Bush.


But are African-Americans aware of the injustice these Senators are doing to this American success story?  Every single one of us has either suffered a similar injustice or we are very close to someone who has.


The conventional wisdom among blacks is that such discrimination would never come at the hands of Democratic politicians who attempt to wax so poetically about “removing the barriers that keep us from drinking at the same fountain of opportunity.”  To date, the Democratic Senators have not been made to answer for their actions, and it is time they were made to do so.


Forty-one years ago Dr. King excoriated then Alabama Gov. George Wallace: “His lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification.”  One can’t help but wonder what Dr. King would say about these white Senators, and how they are treating the black daughter of an Alabama sharecropper who grew up in the segregated south and has risen to the heights of her profession?


Democrats like to claim they are the heirs to Dr. King’s legacy.  For them to have any credibility at all in that claim they must no longer deny Judge Brown a vote on the Senate floor. 


Judge Brown has a right to drink from the “fountain of opportunity,” and doing anything less will mean those “barriers of hate” are still in place with the names Kerry, Edwards, Kennedy and others emblazoned upon them.


Mr. Innis is the national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, a 62-year old civil rights organization based in New York City.





Related Links


[History of Filibusters] [Judge Janice Brown] [Open Letter to Congress] [Op-Ed Article] [Press Release] [CORE Commercial]


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