Hound a Black Mayor for His Offense But Let Lott Off the Hook
Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe columnist
Boston Globe, Friday, February 5, 1999,
© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company
aide of the black mayor in Washington, D.C., says ''niggardly.''
A black co-worker gets mad even though the word, which means stingy,
is not related to the similar sounding slur.
white aide resigns. The black mayor accepts the resignation. The
press fries the mayor for accepting the resignation. This week
the tarred and feathered mayor asks the aide to come back.
done now? Everybody have fun proving that black people can be
racists, too? They must have, for on Wednesday National Public
Radio had two separate reports, in the morning and at night. There
were no less than five syndicated columns on the subject on the
wires on Wednesday and 13 in the last two weeks, a huge amount
for anything other than Monicagate.
speed and the fury of the press has now given us a century-by-century
dissection of ''niggardly.'' Yes, the mayor deserved his tar and
feathers. But that was child's play, stomping on a politician
who runs a beleaguered city with little control over its finances
and no votes in Congress.
press has had the same chance in recent weeks to humiliate another
politician who has played fast and loose with racism. This politician
is far more powerful than the mayor of D.C., and the creators
of the racism he plays with are never misunderstood when they
use the word that sounds like niggardly.
the tar remains in the bucket. Except for isolated corners, there
is no fury. This politician preens rightously in the podium of
the Senate. His hands are deep in the impeachment trial of President
Clinton. His scissors snip away at social spending. He does so
with no fear that anyone will hound him about his skeletons like
the black mayor.
is Senate majority leader Trent Lott. The Mississippi Republican
was momentarily exposed by The Washington Post and The New York
Times for his past, warm connections to the Council of Conservative
Citizens. The council, which claims 15,000 national members, grew
out of the citizen's councils of the South, the white-collar Ku
has given speeches before the group three times - in 1991, 1992,
and 1995. The council publishes Lott's newsletter. Less than two
years ago, top officials of the council visited Lott's office
on Capitol Hill. Also less than two years ago, a smiling Lott
posed for a photograph with the council's leadership.
when Lott was asked about the council, he said he had ''no firsthand
knowledge'' of it. The publicity forced him to condemn the group.
But given a parsing of his memory that is no less ridiculous than
Clinton's about Monicagate, we need to know far more fully what
is in Lott's mind and how such a mind - given that he runs the
Senate - affects our nation's politics.
we wait for the press to force Lott to speak, it is critical to
note that the CCC is not merely some conservatives who happen
to dislike affirmative action, which is hardly news. Through its
links on its Internet Web site, the Council of Conservative Citizens
is linked to some of the most racist, homophobic, and sexist Web
sites in the world.
example, You can go from the CCC to the Screed (''A Bastion of
the Angry White Male), which then links up with the Web page for
Stormfront (''White Pride, World-Wide'').
who gives $35 to Stormfront's legal defense fund receives a free
copy of the autobiography of David Duke, the former leader of
the Ku Klux Klan who has become a right-wing politician. Stormfront
also has direct links to the real KKK.
forget the KKK for a minute. Stormfront has a category of links
titled ''White Rights/Racially Conscious Conservatism.'' It says,
''These are Web sites promoting traditional, racially conscious
conservatism.'' Here, with one click, you can link from Stormfront
directly back to the Council of Conservative Citizens. Stormfront
says of the C of CC:
to the Citizens Councils, which actively led the resistance to
forced racial integration in the '50s and '60s. This is the only
openly racialist group to attain any degree of political influence
in recent years, and, because of this, it is currently the target
of attack by the antiwhite political and media establishment.''
is why the press needs to hound Lott until we know all that we
can of his ties. The press needs to hound him until his reputation
is at risk of a stain as permanent as the one that has forever
lowered history's opinion of President Clinton.
press found it easy to pursue a case of black racism. Now it has
a chance to deal with one of the most powerful men in America.
As of now, Lott preens at the impeachment proceedings. There is
no buzz about his ties to believers in segregation. Few ask whether
a man with such ties should be majority leader.
ask if, when he pushes for cuts in social spending, whether he
is doing it out of genuine fiscal conservatism or is being - dare
I say it? - niggardly with black people. Few will ask unless the
press throws the tar and the feathers.