Tuesday, November 6, 2007

One Regressive Step for Blacks, One Regressive Leap for Our Time

In today's Boston Globe, Charlie Savage writes about how President Bush has found a legal trick to stack the US Commission on Civil Rights with conservatives who share his philosophy on justice, as it pertains to race. The commission, which is in its fiftieth year, is made up of eight members, and party representation must be equal between Republicans and Democrats, with the Congress appointing four and the President the next four. Independents can also serve on the commission.

That is where the injustice begins. There is no penalty for, say, a Republican member to switch her registration to Independent, as Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom did immediately following President George W. Bush's reelection. Of course, a change in party affiliation doesn't necessarily correspond with a change in philosophy. The article contends Mr. Bush was able to appoint more conservative members to the commission, thus negating any concerns the moderate and liberal members would have.

Mr. Savage explains how the Justice Department provided the White House with the legal reasoning for such a devious maneuver, tutoring then Senior Council Alberto Gonzales on why no court would overturn the practice.

Is any of this surprising, or even beyond this administration's capacity to exert control over what it deems is within its sphere of influence? The same administration that believes in torture, warrantless wiretapping, and the essential neutering of the other two federal government branches, sees civil rights to be something worth politicizing. They don't mind censoring reports that speak to the health effects of Global Warming, and they don't mind making sure that Black Americans have inadequate voting resources, as in Ohio, 2004.

It's no surprise then why the top Republican contenders skipped out on the Tavis Smiley debate in Baltimore earlier this fall, since they obviously won't provide suggestions on how they would rectify this adulterated commission. Like the old Palestinian adage, the conservatives never fail to miss an opportunity with respect to Black Americans.

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