National Association of Hypocrites?
A local NAACP official has been suspended after urging members to support Republican George Allen in Virginia's U.S. Senate race. Paul C. Gillis was stripped of his post as Suffolk branch president last month by Kweisi Mfume, national president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In a letter, Mfume accused Gillis of violating NAACP policies against partisan political activity. Mfume said Gillis' action put the NAACP in danger of "irreparable harm." The civil rights group could lose its tax-exempt status if it engages in party politics, said Salim Khalfani, executive director of the Virginia NAACP conference.
Though not a likely thing to happen under a Democratic administration, Khalfani is right to point out that the organization, at least in the eyes of the IRS, is non-partisan. Gillis, a former state NAACP president, said that he was speaking as an individual when he endorsed Allen: "When I took over as branch president […] I did not give up my constitutional rights to support and endorse anyone I wanted."
Gillis' mistake seems to be that he was supporting the "wrong" side. Most NAACP members and officials are Liberals, many are running for or holding public offices for the Democratic Party. NAACP president Kweisi Mfume himself was leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, a fiercely partisan group, before leaving Congress.
NAACP President Kweisi Mfume
To find out whether anyone ever was kicked out of office for supporting a Democrat, I searched the NAACP web site: to no avail. Instead, I was treated to a speech by Vice President Albert Gore at the 2000 NAACP convention in which he was constantly interrupted by chants of approval and roaring applause. Right afterwards, I suppose, the delegates were all stripped off their official functions!
Neatly, the site keeps an archive of speeches and other writings of the president. In a column entitled "The CIA-Crack-Contra Controversy," Mfume rails against the CIA, accusing the agency of maliciously using the Nicaraguan Contras to introduce crack cocaine into black communities in an attempt to destroy them. No mention anywhere that the story, based on erroneous reporting by the San Jose Mercury News, has been repeatedly investigated by the Justice Department and various congressional committees and each time was found to be false and baseless. A link on the page to the Mercury News comes up empty because the paper no longer stands behind its own reporting.
Since I wrote these lines, the link to the CIA-Crack-Contra column was deleted. I couldn't find any statement that expressed regret for the reckless accusations — nor one that would have retracted them. Nevertheless, the removal of the link may indicate that the NAACP is shifting its position.
The War Against Boys
©Atlantic Monthly: Drawing by Jonathan Carlson
Always eager to spread the news that guys are bad, girls are victims, NPR jumped squarely on the bandwagon when, back in 1990, Carol Gilligan, Harvard University's first professor of gender studies, proclaimed that girls are unfairly treated by American schools:
As the river of a girl's life flows into the sea of Western culture, she is in danger of drowning or disappearing.
The cries of discrimination grew even louder when, a few years later, the American Association of University Women published a study entitled "Schools shortchange girls," claiming that schools are biased against girls.
Despite the constant stream of disinformation, I remained somewhat skeptical of the story. After all, I had raised children myself and had not seen any of this. For the most part, my daughter had it easier in school, received more attention, support, and that pattern continued throughout her college years. In contrast, there were instances of outright discrimination against my son, but I couldn't be certain whether this was because of the color of his skin or him being on the wrong side of the sexual divide. Moreover, teachers discriminating against girls seemed a rather unlikely scenario to begin with: Since most of them are women who went to colleges that espouse almost exclusively liberal and feminist views, why would they pick on their own?
In her new book "The War Against Boys" (Simon & Schuster, 2000), Christina Hoff Sommers happily debunks the myth that girls are shortchanged in school. Of course, it took a woman writer to demolish one of the cornerstones of the feminist believe system that adolescent girls are victims too. The Atlantic Monthly published a preview of her book in the May 2000 issue and posted it on their web edition, the Atlantic Unbound.
NPR Hates America
I was sitting out the war in Germany. Not that I was afraid for my life had I stayed behind in Alabama, but this visit of friends and relatives had been planned for a long time. Strangely, being there during the war was very much like travelling through enemy territory — so much for the ever-lasting friendship and gratitude of a nation that itself had been liberated from brutal dictatorship 58 years ago.
Back home, while I was busy checking my e-mail, there it was: an invitation to look at a new web site: NPR hates America.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to see a web site launched with the promise to keep a watchful eye on NPR's programming. The site is very well made: clean layout, flawless HTML, no hateful speech, just transcripts of NPR reports, interspersed with insightful commentaries.
The creators of the site are upset by the blatantly one-sided coverage of the war. Indeed, NPR reports from Baghdad and other places in and around Iraq seem to be designed to bash the U.S. administration, to vilify President Bush and Republicans, rather than delivering the news. In disgust, the web site is calling for an end to all federal funding of the network.
To be sure, NPR has difficulties with being unabashedly patriotic in times of war. I first noticed this in the aftermath of 9/11. Just two weeks after the attacks on New York and Washington, Morning Edition had a segment about Irvin Berlin's song God Bless America. While providing a few interesting bits of information about the origin of the song — Berlin wrote it to lift the spirit of his adopted home country during the Great Depression — Jeff London regretted the fact that God Bless America was the only song played everywhere — from the streets of Manhattan to churches, schools, and ball parks all over the country. Why not play Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land?
This Land was Guthrie's angry answer to God Bless America. He did not like the patriotic feeling, the innate love for America that Berlin's anthem was exuding. As a communist sympathizer and labor activist, Guthrie laid claim to the land for the working people of America, not for private property owners, not for industrialists or capitalists, and certainly not for a Jewish boy from Russia. The fourth chorus of says it most distinctly:
As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
I am sure that the majority of boy and girl scouts singing "This land is your land, this land is my land" around crackling camp fires are blessedly unaware of the fact that the song was not meant to be patriotic. Regardless of what Guthrie's thoughts were when he wrote the lyrics, the tune carries with it the sentiments of the people who sing it — and most of them love their country, America.
Berlin never made a penny from God Bless America. He donated the royalties to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.
The grossly distorted war reporting of NPR also caught the eye of John Leo. In his nationally syndicated column On Society, Leo asked the question:
As you know, both the BBC and National Public Radio have been criticized for their heavy-handed antiwar tilt. The coalition victory must be a terrible disappointment. How will they cope?
MR. ANSWER MAN:
In the meantime, NPR Hates America is no longer online. I doubt that the web site will be back anytime soon, but if it does I will publish it here. Thanks for your work, fellas!