NAACP flunks on guns, gets A+ on Sudan crisis

July 17, 1999|By Gregory Kane

THE NAACP has prided itself on issuing report cards on politicians and businesses, handing out A's to those sympathetic to the "civil rights agenda" and flunking those who supposedly fall short of the organization's criteria.

So let's grade the recent NAACP conference, held last week in New York City, during which the organization made several resolutions and covered numerous topics, several of which have generated controversy.

Emergency resolution on Sudan: The NAACP gets an A+ for this one. In a powerfully worded, three-page resolution, the NAACP condemned the government of Sudan for human rights abuses, genocide, slavery and supporting terrorism. The resolution called on President Clinton to turn up the diplomatic and economic pressure on Sudan and to "plan a strategy to abolish the practice of slavery" there.

It is the boldest statement to date from any civil rights organization regarding the crisis in Sudan. The NAACP has shown guts in not shying away from it. Kweisi Mfume and NAACP members stand in sharp contrast to those black misleaders -- Jesse Jackson and Cornel West come to mind -- who have been specifically asked to take a stand on the issue of slavery in Sudan and Mauritania and have headed for the hills.

On Monday, NAACP head Mfume accused television networks of failing to include any minorities in their new fall programming.

"When Americans tune in this fall all over America and sit down to watch the new prime-time television shows, they will see a virtual whitewash in programming," Mfume said, according to a Sun article written by reporter Erin Texeira. "You know what we're going to have to do? Turn off the tube. We're not going to watch those shows that make us look invisible."

Such exhortations must cause some alarm at Black Entertainment Television. If we turn off our televisions, we won't be able to watch Cheryl Martin as host on BET's "Lead Story" every Sunday night, holding scintillating discussions with the likes of syndicated columnist Clarence Page, USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham and Emerge magazine editor George Curry. We would miss seeing that great pumpkin face, Tavis Smiley, hurling penetrating questions at guests on "BET Tonight," which airs five nights a week.

We would miss the superb shows with black casts that are already on the air. "Linc's" on the Showtime network on cable comes to mind. The question isn't only why the television networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox -- have so few minorities in their new shows. The question also is why blacks -- now, as well as in the past -- have ignored quality shows with black cast members.

Here's another question: Why is anybody still watching network television, with the History channel, the Discovery channel, the Learning Channel, Arts & Entertainment, the SciFi channel and -- praise the Lord! -- the ESPN Classic channel as alternatives? Hasn't it been shown that folks who exclusively watch network television are a notoriously goofy lot?

The best the NAACP gets for this one is a C.

The NAACP announced its lawsuit against the gun industry, thus joining the dolts in several municipalities -- Chicago, San Francisco and more than a dozen others -- who have adopted the curious notion that it is gun manufacturers, not local governments, who are responsible for stamping out gun crime.

"NAACP action is needed now," Mfume said in Texeira's article. "to break the backs of those who perpetrate the sale of guns in our communities."

The NAACP should be ensuring that every law-abiding citizen in America's black communities has a safe, affordable handgun. They are the ones most likely to be the victims of crime and the ones who most need to defend themselves. They are the ones the NAACP, in its zeal to take a stand against the National Rifle Association, have abandoned.

So the NAACP gets an F on this one, and some advice. Talk to the young black men in America's inner cities and you'll find they're already strapped. They've armed themselves for defense against the stick-up boys terrorizing their communities. All the gun control propaganda says the "availability of guns" will turn everyone into homicidal maniacs. The fact that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of young black men out there armed and in control of themselves and their guns proves them wrong.

These young men are smart enough to know that the combined forces of city and state governments, Bill Clinton, the police, the NAACP and the outrage of gun controllers won't protect them. They probably rely on the wisdom of that old NAACPer Charles Evers -- older brother of Medgar -- who led the Mississippi chapter in the mid- to late 1960s when white racists were out to kill him.

"I put my trust in God and my .45," Evers said. "And not always in that order."

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