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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shame On Charlie Rangel

Congressman Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) has proven that one can’t be too rigid in politics.

He has written a letter to The Black Star News conceding that he had underestimated Senator Barack Obama.

Rep. Rangel was responding to an editorial (see below)“Shame On Charlie Rangel” published Feb. 28, 2008 in The Black Star News and on our website. In his letter also dated Feb. 28 on his House Of Representatives letterhead, he writes: “Having read your most recent editorial ….I must admit that my statement that supporters of Senator Barak (sic) Obama were motivated solely by black pride grossly underestimated the talent and strength of his candidacy.”

BLack St
ar News Editorial

While announcing his support for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run over Barack Obama, Congressman Charles Rangel who represents Harlem said Obama had no chance.

Rangel professed admiration for Obama yet claimed the people who enthusiastically backed him were motivated by “Black pride.” Now that Obama has won millions of votes and more states and more delegates than Clinton, we wonder whether Rangel has reassessed his

Perhaps the millions of white voters that have preferred Obama over Clinton are also motivated by “Black pride”?

So much so that Senator Obama even got more white votes than senator Clinton did in Virginia--the first time he beat her in the white vote count in a Southern State.

Might these millions of voters –Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians—not be responding to senator Obama’s message of change, hope, empowerment and unity that resonates with all races, ethnicities, gender and religions?

The Rev. Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, while endorsing Clinton, also similarly disparaged Obama. Butts said he was supporting the “best candidate” and that it wasn’t about “race.” Former New York mayor David Dinkins made a similar argument in supporting Clinton over Obama; that it wasn’t sufficient that Obama was Black.

Dinkins and Rangel even travelled to South Carolina to campaign for Clinton. This, even after the Clinton campaign’s attack dogs had employed race baiting tactics, casting Obama as a drug dealer. Her husband Bill Clinton had also referred to Obama’s campaign and opposition to the Iraq war as a “fairy tale.”

Earlier, Bill Clinton had claimed electing Obama was like “rolling a dice.” Since he didn’t make similar remarks about John Edwards, who was then still a candidate, the implication was that “Are you going to hand over the keys to the White House and the nation’s atomic arsenal to a Black man”?

Beginning with South Carolina, voters have spoken loudly; rejecting such race baiting and gutter politics.

“Race pride,” might have been a factor in Obama’s drive to succeed throughout his life.

But race pride didn’t get him into Columbia; race pride didn’t take the exams that propelled him to Harvard Law School; race pride didn’t get him elected President of the Harvard Law Review; race pride didn’t get him elected to the Illinois senate, and then to the United States Senate; and, race pride, hasn’t brought him to the doorsteps of a possible singular achievement---on the verge of becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee for U.S. president.

We can understand how the Clintons may have succumbed to the worse type of human instincts in their desperate quest for the White House; it’s much sadder when so-called Black leaders are recruited to join in such ugly misadventure.

Rangel, Butts and Dinkins have the right to support any candidate whom they want. No one is obligated to emulate pioneers such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman Adam Clayton Powell or Shirley Chisholm. But it’s wrong for them to belittle another trailblazer as being propelled by “Black pride.” It only sullies their reputation.

When Rangel set out to become a congressman, and when Dinkins set out to become New York’s first Black mayor, and when Butts stepped to the pulpit at the great Abyssinian, each one of them, we are sure, hoped they offered more than their pigmentation to supporters.

Congressman John Lewis is an honest and honorable man. He has re-evaluated his position about Clinton’s allegedl --and now clearly mythical-- inevitability and come to the correct conclusion.

At the very least, Rangel, Butts and Dinkins owe senator Obama an apology.

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