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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, February 11, 2006

No one gives a shit

98 percent of black people agree

Racial Icons
President Bush deserves credit for sitting through the awkward moments at Coretta Scott King’s funeral—and for his role in setting up an African-American history museum.

By Eleanor Clift


Updated: 3:22 p.m. ET Feb. 10, 2006

Feb. 10, 2006 - Southerners have a saying, “Bit dog always hollers.” That’s how Jody Powell, President Carter’s former press secretary, responded when asked about criticism, coming mainly from Republicans, that Carter had overstepped the bounds of good taste in his eulogy of Coretta Scott King by mentioning that she and her husband had been illegally wiretapped. Carter did not imply that Republicans were responsible. Indeed it was President Kennedy and his brother Bobby who authorized the FBI’s eavesdropping on Martin Luther King Jr.

Yet with Senate hearings going on in Washington on the legality of Bush’s domestic-spying program, it was inescapable that people would make the connection to present-day abuses. The FISA law (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) was signed into law by Carter, and he is justifiably angry about the way Bush brushes it aside as a troublesome bureaucratic impediment. Whether the funeral of a civil-rights icon was the right place and time to jab Bush is debatable, but it’s not surprising given Carter’s strong feelings.

Coretta King spoke out against the Iraq war and no doubt would have appreciated the occasional discordant political note in the rosy tributes paid to her. Bush deserves credit for sitting through it all despite the awkward moments and remaining good-natured and even eloquent in his eulogy. That evening he welcomed the Harlem Dance Theater to the White House for a special performance, and among the guests was Lonnie Bunch, the director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. “Hey, Bunch!” Bush said, clapping him on the back, a familiarity Bush earned when he signed legislation creating the museum in December ’03. It had been a long time coming. Georgia Rep. John Lewis first introduced the legislation in 1988, and every year after that, to no avail. Even President Clinton, who’s been called the first black president because of his close ties to the African-American community, couldn’t get enough support in Congress for the museum.

Bush’s museum action pulled off the seemingly impossible. With his re-election campaign looming and needing help to win more of the black vote, he mustered the votes to build the museum on federal land, and to provide $250 million, half what the proposed structure is expected to cost. Sure, there was political self-interest, but Bush is also personally committed. One of the first checks the Smithsonian got for the new African-American museum came from the president and his wife, Laura.


Wilder is gambling that an illuminated sign with a slave ship at the exit off I-95 in Fredericksburg will draw visitors, and he resists the notion that he is competing with Washington. “You can’t have too many [museums], and there’s enough money to go around,” he says, smiling. “Just give us ours.” He’s counting on what he calls “enlightened self-interest” from corporations who acknowledge past participation in slavery, “not reparations,” he adds, “but acknowledgment of doing what is right.” Actor Ben Vereen, who played Chicken George in “Roots,” accompanied Wilder and put it more bluntly: “Corporate America, we need you now. We bought your cars—we smoked your cigarettes—now it’s time to tally up.” The U.S. National Slavery Museum is scheduled to open in 2007.

So when is FEMA going to house thousands of people who lost their homes to Katrina. When are they going to move them from hotels to apartments.

Unless Bush kicked in a couple of billion from his friends at Hallburton, no one gives a shit about museums.

The crisis from Katrina is ongoing. It needs real attention.

And has Doug Wilder lost his fucking mind? An illuminated sign with a slave ship on it? Does the National Holocaust Museum have an illuminated sign with a boxcar on it? Flashing Arbeit Macht Frei signs?

What a tacky, inappropriate way to commemorate a tragedy.

No one gives a shit what Bush does for dead black people, they want to know what he's doing for the living ones.

posted by Steve @ 10:08:00 AM

10:08:00 AM

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