Blindly, blacks continue to play hail to the chief

September 26, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

Have African-Americans no shame? Is there no limit to the whining and sniveling we will do in support of President Clinton?

For the past several weeks, the media have reported on the almost total devotion black Americans have for Clinton. Judging from the remarks I've heard from African-Americans, the media may not be exaggerating. The loyalty is so great -- and downright sickening -- that black folks should consider changing the African-American national anthem from "Lift Every Voice and Sing" to "We Love That White Man."

"Why do blacks support Clinton so much?" WBAL talk show host Bruce Elliott asked me.

"It's got me baffled," I replied. "I'm stumped."

I've thought about the matter since my reply. There may be several reasons why black Americans support Clinton.

He's a Democrat. Blacks interpret Clinton's party affiliation to automatically mean he's a liberal, or at least not a conservative. The fact that he won in 1996 while practically running as a conservative seems lost on us.

Black folks may not trust prosecutor Ken Starr. Of course, many nonblacks don't trust him either. It's hard to trust a guy who had eight months to get Monica Lewinsky on the witness stand, didn't get her to testify until August and then released his report to Congress just five days before the September primary. Starr's goal was clearly to influence the elections. The Republicans aren't after Clinton. They're after voters to vote Republican. Those folks who think Starr's timing in getting Lewinsky on the witness stand is merely coincidental probably have sap oozing out of them. Starr's timing was not only political, it was downright insulting to thinking Americans. Or as WOLB talk show host and program director Joe Madison puts it, "I was born at night. But not last night."

To Clinton's credit, he does have many black friends, perhaps more than any other president since Jimmy Carter. (Ironically, both Carter and Clinton are Southerners.) But it's Clinton's treatment of his black friends that should give African-Americans pause in their blind loyalty to the president. Let's look at his track record.

When Lani Guinier, Clinton's friend he has known since law school, was nominated to head the civil rights commission, she came under attack for advocating proportional representation. Instead of backing her, Clinton wimped out. He could have gone before Congress and given the conservatives opposed to Guinier's nomination what for.

"You white boys were all in favor of the proportional representation that left whites in Zimbabwe and South Africa with political representation far greater than their numbers," this friend of the Negro could have said. "Proportional representation has worked in other countries and in some parts of this country. Who do you bozos think you're trying to hoodwink?"

That's what a true friend, not a political opportunist, would have said. When surgeon general Jocelyn Elders suggested that masturbation should be taught as an alternative to sex in sex education classes, conservatives attacked her. Once again, Clinton wimped out. But Elders' observation about masturbation was advice Clinton would have done well to heed.

Then there's that matter about the hole in Ron Brown's head. Remember last December, when an Air Force pathologist said that photos of the late Department of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's body showed a hole in his head that could have been caused by a gunshot wound? Apparently most black Americans don't. Not from the way we've flocked to Clinton.

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno and asked her to investigate the allegation and clear up the matter. We have heard from neither Reno nor Clinton since. African-Americans, in our zeal to support Clinton, have forgotten all about Ron Brown. But I operate on a quid pro quo basis. Clinton will have to answer all kinds of questions about that hole in Ron Brown's head before he gets my support.

And let's not forget those black enlisted men at Aberdeen who were tried for having sex with subordinates. Some were convicted and sentenced to jail time or booted out of the service. Clinton, as commander-in-chief, said not one word in support of these men. He offered no clemency or pardons. Blacks who blindly proclaim Clinton shouldn't be impeached have offered no credible reason why he should not be dealt with as harshly as a black drill sergeant at Aberdeen.

Ah, yes, how we love that white man. But our passion overfloweth for the one white man of whom we should be the most leery. From Whitewater, to suspected illegal campaign contributions from the Chinese government to those documents that a Ron Brown business partner said proved that the White House was selling trade mission slots for campaign donations, there is evidence aplenty that should make African-Americans at least question their support of Clinton.

The shame of it all is that if Clinton were Republican and conservative and saved a drowning black baby, African-Americans would demand he throw the tyke back in the water.

Pub Date: 9/26/98

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