Focus on hypocrisy, not race-baiting

January 21, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

What a difference a matter of days makes. .....Last week, Radio One owner Cathy Hughes was railing against "crackers." This week she implored her listening audience to call two white legislators - Montgomery County Sen. Jennie Forehand and Prince George's County Sen. Paul Pinsky - and urge either or both of them to make a motion to have Sen. Larry Young's expulsion recon-sidered.

On Monday night, neither Forehand nor Pinsky put forth the motion. The lesson here seems to be: Don't call anybody a name one week whose help you might need the next.

Anybody getting the feeling that Radio One hasn't exactly helped Young in his plight? Talk-show hosts on WOLB have tried, with Bernie McCain and Lisa Mitchell providing the most cogent arguments for Young. But Hughes came off as a babbling loony. Afternoon talk-show host C. Miles - the ranting buffoon who's a bigger embarrassment to black folks than "Amos 'n' Andy" reruns - couldn't have caused Young any more damage than if he'd mugged the man.

You've heard the language by now. Whites were crackers. Blacks refusing to show anything less than absolute fealty to Young were Uncle Tom handkerchief heads and traitors. Young, we were told, was being targeted because he is black. Those mean white folks at the Baltimore Sun were out to get him.

The emotional reaction is not always the best one. Hughes and Radio One could have easily built some multiracial support for Young. Instead of espousing the noxious notion that any black senator voting for Young's expulsion was a traitor, somebody at Radio One should have called one of them and said, "Look, you vote for expulsion. Then you can put in the motion for reconsideration on Monday."

But noooooo.

When you're busy trying to out-black everybody else, you don't have time to strategize. When you're ranting, you can't really listen. The person Hughes should have been listening to last week was WCBM's Tom ........Marr, who, while no fan of Young's, was against his expulsion.

"If this weren't an election year, the Senate wouldn't even have considered expulsion," Marr said last week. The issue here wasn't Young or race, Marr said, but Maryland power politics.

Instead of demonizing The Sun, Hughes and Co. should have visited the enemy's lair and looked up some stories in our library. There's an interesting one from March 1995 written by John Fairhall, in which Young lashed out at both The Sun and a health care lobbyist:

"Angrily defending his integrity, the chairman of a state Senate health subcommittee interrupted a public hearing yesterday to accuse a lobbyist for the state medical society of spreading malicious information about him.

"Sen. Larry Young also strongly criticized The Sun, which published an editorial yesterday that said the Baltimore Democrat has conflicts of interest that raise questions about whether he will act in the public's behalf in Annapolis."

What's interesting here is not that Young - Mr. False Statement himself - felt he had integrity to defend. Nor is it the conflict- of-interest charge. What makes this story interesting is the comment of the man who seemed so eager to bumrush Young out of the Senate, Mike Miller, the president of that body.

"Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Prince George's Democrat, defended Mr. Young, saying stories painting him as having conflicts of interest are being fed by 'a whispering campaign,' by health care industry lobbyists in general, and the state medical society in particular."

A Marina Sarris story from Valentine's Day 1996 has some interesting details about Young's main inquisitor on the Senate floor Friday, Baltimore County Democrat Michael Collins. Collins and Miller co-sponsored legislation that "would allow legislators to attend lobbyists' parties without having to report them to state ethics officials. The measure also would make it easier for lobbyists to invite groups of legislators to receptions without having to disclose their guests by name."

In short, Miller and Collins wanted to make it easier for legislators to engage in worse and more flagrant hanky-panky than the kind that got Young bounced. There's some serious hypocrisy going on in the halls of the state legislature in regards to the Larry Young matter. Hughes and Radio One would do their listeners a favor by concentrating on it and dropping the race-baiting.

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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