Friday, December 31, 2010

NAACP Finally Follows Media Spotlight in Mississippi Scott Sister's Case

As soon as I saw the NAACP mentioned in the Washington Post article about the Scott sisters, I smelled that the NAACP would try to take credit for the outcome, even though I've never heard their name associated with the Scott sisters' case before.  I know with certainty that, although I read blogs and newspapers every day, the NAACP is NOT where I found out about this case.  And now, Benjamin Jealous plans to hold a joint press conference with arch-conservative Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to celebrate this long-fought victory which then NAACP has so recently joined.

I imagine that if the case had occurred in Louisiana, Jealous would hold a press conference with David Duke.

In fact, although the Scott sisters have been in jail for sixteen years, while the NAACP's President Ben Jealous may have first mentioned the case to the media on September 15, 2010"NAACP backs pardon for Miss. sisters serving life", USA Today,   "The president of the N.A.A.C.P., is seeking a pardon from the Governor of Mississippi, announced the Red Mountain Post on October 15, 2010.  When the NAACP announces its support in a nationally-known case of injustice that has been advocated at blogs and community groups for years, and the NAACP's freshly-painted involvement becomes national news, you know that organization has lost its way.  It has gone from political leader to political opportunist, just as occurred in the Jena Six case, where "NAACP Spent More on Internal Jena Six Activities Than on Youths’ Defense Funds."

I think the current role of the NAACP is to show up at our victory parties and grab the microphone before anyone else has a chance to speak, so they can ask for donations that ultimately pay for NAACP overhead instead of being used to help the named victims of injustice.

Scotty Reid of BlackTalkMedia says that the NAACP ignored the Scott sisters' case until it became a media magnet, and then the NAACP jumped into the media fray as a "Johnny come lately," opening a financial donations account from which the Scott sisters allegedly have not received a dime.  "The NAACP has not contributed one dime to the legal expenses of the Scott sisters and nor has it stated that it will do so. . . " alleges Scotty Reid.

Leave it to the NAACP to announce a joint press conference with Haley Barbour, defender of the White Citizens Councils, and thereby putting the NAACP seal of Black approval on Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.  , in the eyes of white people who thing the NAACP is a respected organization with real constituents.  Here's Haley Barbour's resume, in reverse chronological order, which facts Ben Jealous apparently has not read, or has dismissed in the rush for the media spotlight:

    Governor of Mississippi (Jan-2004 to present)
    National Policy Forum Founder (1993)
    Republican National Committee Chairman (1993-97)
    American Success PAC

    Americans for a Republican Majority

    America's Foundation

    Bayou Leader PAC

    Bluegrass Committee

    Bush-Cheney '04

    Bush-Quayle '92

    Campaign America Inc.

    Cantor for Congress

    Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism

    Defend America PAC

    Elizabeth Dole Committee

    Elizabeth Dole for President

    The Freedom Project


    Friends of Giuliani Exploratory Committee

    Friends of Katherine Harris

    Friends of Phil Gramm PAC

    Friends of Roy Blunt

    George W. Bush for President

    Keep Our Mission PAC

    JD Hayworth for Congress

    John McCain 2008

    Leadership PAC 2006

    Lindsey Graham for Senate

    McCain 2000

    McCain for Senate '98

    National Council for a New America Founding Member
    National Republican Senatorial Committee

    New Republican Majority Fund

    Northern Lights PAC

    Rely on Your Beliefs Fund

    Republicans Abroad Advisory Committee
    Restoring the American Dream Board of Directors
    Resurgent Republic Advisory Board
    Santorum 2000

    Senate Victory Fund PAC

    Spirit of America

    Washington Legal Foundation Legal Policy Advisory Board
    Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity

    Microsoft Washington lobbyist
    Barbour, Griffith & Rogers Founder, President, CEO (1991-99)
    Member of the Board of Amtrak

    Bush Pioneer 2000

The only thing missing so far is Barbour's conceivable involvement in the White Citizens Councils.  Now, I'd like to have one good reason why Ben Jealous wants to shake Haley Barbor's hand, if not for selfish fundraising goals and publicity after the fact.   See "Haley Barbour's Praise For Racist Group Gets Noticed" on NPR.  

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is getting much more national attention than he usually does this week following a Weekly Standard profile in which the Republican with presidential aspirations lauds a group that was part of the racist reaction to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s.

Haley Barbour has tried to rehabilitate the imagine of the White Citizens Councils, but Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post says:

In a 1956 article in Commentary David Halberstam describes the White Citizens Council as an organization determined to "not just oppose integration in the public schools but to stop or at least postpone it. In most of the the Deep South, where hostility to integration is nearly universal, it is this militancy and dedication that make the Council member stand out. Despite occasional efforts by supporters to build the Councils up into a movement of broad conservatism, their only serious purpose is to fight the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Not only do they contest the NAACP's desegregation suits, but they seek to cancel much else that the Negro has gained over the last half-century by keeping him out of the voting booth."
Even Haley Barbour now recognizes that the hateful and pro-segregation work of the White Citizens Councils. His state governor website says, apologetically:

"When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time."

I personally believe that Haley Barbour is trying to disassociate and immunize himself against attacks on his color-aroused background, perhaps because he was a member or collaborator of the White Citizens Council himself, or because his family members were.  That's just a hunch, but it's worth looking into it, because I believe Haley Barbour is running for president in 2012.

This is why I find it incredibly idiotic that Ben Jealous of the NAACP is planning to hold a joint press conference with Barbour.  He unwittingly or intentionally is helping to inoculate Barbour against charges of color aroused politics and helping to distract attention from Barbour's roles and affiliations in the Republican presidencies of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.  Meanwhile, Ben Jealous wants to get on television, pretending that his NAACP is still relevant, even though they didn't have a meaningful website during any of the days of the George W. Bush presidential administration.

Ben Jealous is prominently meeting with one of President Obama's most likely opponents for 2012, undercutting the obvious anti-Barbour opinion that Barbour is a color-aroused man from one of America's most color-aroused states.  I don't know who's worse:  The NAACP's Ben Jealous for helping Haley Barbour or Haley Barbour for being Haley Barbour.

Haley Barbour's motive is obvious, and Ben Jealous is seems blind to the political realities, except as they effect his own publicity and opportunities for an NAACP fundraising drive.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Black Leaders, Old Civil Rights Groups Conflict in Net Neutrality Debate

RE:  Net Neutrality Issue Heats Up

Please remember that the First Amendment to the US Constitution prevents the US Government and the states from abridging our right to free speech, but it does not oblige huge communications corporations like newspapers and Internet providers to carry our content.  It does not prevent corporate giants from limiting or discontinuing our speech. 

francislholland's Channel


I was an active participant at Now Public, with my articles drawing hundreds of reads, until Now Public was bought by a Phillip Anschutz, a billionaire Republican who donated to people like Senator "Wide Stance" Larry Craig, John McCain and state Republican parties.  (See my article entitled, "Billionaire Republican Campaign Donor Buys "Now Public" Site".

About three days after this Republican billionaire bought the Now Public, my posting privileges were withdrawn and placed "under review" and have remained withdrawn and "under review" for over a year now.

I understand what happens when billionaire pro-Republican individuals and groups get control over Internet content, and I don't want to see that happen to the entire Internet. 

If they do get content control over the Internet, then I think you can kiss groups like BlackNetAction and Color of Change goodbye.  Since we do not agree with large Republican Corporations about many things, we may find that our groups' accounts are "under review" as well.
I am no expert on Net Neutrality or the proposals before the Federal Trade Commission, but I do understand major corporations trying to gain monopoly control over the Internet and then use it to squelch Black people's and Democrats' communication with each other.  Why should they carry our content if we are disagreeing with them at every turn?

At this point, cable corporations control the speed of each of our Internet connections, but not the content.  What I have read is that a few big cable corporations want the green light to, for example, charge the public one price if we  want access only to commercial sites, but charge more if we want access to send or receive messages from non-profit groups like Color of Change and Black Net Action.  Or charge Color of Change more if it wants access to e.g. send and receive e-mails from people in the 50 states.

Although I haven't heard these specific proposal, I can well imagine it happening, particularly if groups like ours continue to challenge these major corporations, as we do when we see color-aroused antagonistic and anti-Black commercials on television and in print.

The entire Internet could become like a privately-owned newspaper, where the editorial board decides what will be published and what will not.

Over the last two decades, "letters to the editor" have become practically irrelevant compared to the power of our communications over the Internet, our blogs and websites.  But, if corporate giants get editorial control over our Internet content, then we will effectively be back to writing letters to the editor and hoping the publisher agrees with our message enough to publish it.

That would be a gargantuan defeat for us and our communities and it is a battle that we must fight to our last breath.


Monday, December 6, 2010

"Civil Rights" Groups Being Used to Limit Blacks' Access to Internet

A Key, Unknown Player in Civil Rights Groups' Attack on the Open Internet

By James Rucker, Color of Change

Last Wednesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed Network Neutrality rules that he claims will save the open Internet.

As another FCC commissioner has attested, these ruleswill do no such thing. Instead, they will allow the big broadband companies, like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, to erect toll booths on the Internet that will result in segregated online communities where wealthy content and application providers will pay a premium for carriage, with everyone else discarded to a secondary, lower quality tier.
Such a policy would be disastrous for the Black community. Today, the Internet — unlike cable television, broadcast radio, or print — is the sole medium where we can communicate with each other nationally and globally, pushing back on the political and social status quo without the interference of corporate gatekeepers.
If Chairman Genachowski succeeds in letting the big phone and cable players carve up the Internet, the day will come when many in the civil rights community will realize and regret their role in making it happen.
Net neutrality is a core principle that is largely responsible for the Internet being such a powerful and transformative tool. It requires that content gets carried by Internet service providers with the same priority and speed regardless of the sender. It's the way the Internet has worked since the beginning. Those who are arguing for net neutrality are simply trying to maintain the status quo — a status quo that has enabled the Internet to flourish in a way that no other communications technology has.
Without net neutrality, Google, Facebook, the Huffington Post and would not exist; neither would Barack Obama be President. And it's an open Internet that has made the campaigns that we've run at ColorOfChange possible — everything from holding Fox News accountable for the likes of Glenn Beck, to stripping away Beck's advertisers, to telling the story of the Jena 6, or advocating for the rights of Katrina survivors.
For over a year, several of the most prominent civil rights groups have been aligned with AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast — whether knowingly or not — in those companies' efforts to end net neutrality. But they have not acted alone. In my conversations with many groups and individuals inside the Beltway, one man emerges as the nerve center for much of the action we've seen on the part of the civil rights groups. His name is David Honig.
David is the executive director of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC). He is in many ways the face and voice for Black America in Washington, D.C. on Internet issues, and perhaps the most influential person from the civil rights community representing our interests on media and telecom policy.
For years, national civil rights groups have relied on his counsel on what positions to take on key communications issues. And for years, he has been regarded as an honest and helpful broker when it came to addressing broadcasting issues.
But when it comes to Internet policy, David is writing a new and different chapter. Over the past couple of years, Honig's positions and statements seem to align him with the phone and cable companies who are set on undermining the open nature of the Internet. And those statements repeatedly appear in filings endorsed by the major civil rights groups. In my opinion, Honig is leading many of the respected civil rights groups he is advising off of the digital cliff.
Two weeks ago, I made a fact-based argument in a letter to House Majority Leader Pelosi about my concerns regarding a Black member of Congress, who has been aligned with AT&T and Comcast in opposing net neutrality and is vying for a subcommittee post with oversight over the Internet. The Congressman's response was to attack me personally, and to side-step my arguments.
Shortly thereafter, Honig and his organization appeared on a letter with every civil rights and black legislative group you can imagine to counter my letter with their own letter to Pelosi (Honig has organized groups around letters and FCC filings in the past; I presume this time is no different).
Did they engage any of the arguments I put forth? No. Not one.
After personally attacking me for allegedly being "uncivil," Honig then asserted that the Congressman's "position is on all fours with the Open Internet policy endorsed by the labor unions, all the minority intergovernmental organizations and virtually every national civil rights organization except ColorofChange."
Honig doesn't mention that he himself has been a driving force in getting these organizations to sign on to letters of support for the policy he mentions, and, in my opinion, using weak and debunked arguments. He also doesn't mention that the groups to which he's referring have been recipients of millions of dollars from AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast (I don't know if MMTC has received financial support from AT&T, Verizon or Comcast, but if it has, it should disclose that as well). While one can argue that these dollars don't have influence, the disclosure is important when making such statements, as is providing a characterization of an organization's funding picture and any other evidence to show how these dollars don't introduce influence.
Along with many others, I have written pieces here and elsewhere that have described the relationship between corporate dollars from AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, advocacy groups, and Black members of Congress. And I've deconstructed the core, faulty logic in the arguments carried by these messengers: that if we let these large corporations have their way and do away with net neutrality, they'll take their increased profits and suddenly invest in our communities where they traditionally haven't (historically they simply haven't done so, despite already seeing profit margins as high as 80 percent). It's a cynical trickle-down argument that defies the basic logic of how businesses operate. And it's the core sentiment that seems to anchor the anti-net neutrality statements in the filings and statements authored by Honig.
Some in Honig's camp also like to say that net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem. To say that, or to defend someone else's doing so, is to ignore statements made by the major players expressing their desire for a tiered system; instances where they've been caught attempting to censor or control content and applications on the Internet; and the obvious business incentives the companies have for doing so.
I'm interested in an honest debate and discussion about this issue but I still can't find, after almost a year of trying, arguments that hold water or that justify the civil rights groups' opposition to net neutrality. I've also had the good fortune of talking with David Honig directly and will continue to do so, but none of the arguments he has presented to me thus far have altered my perspective on the core issues I've raised here and elsewhere. In the meantime, I hope to get as much sunlight as possible on the dynamics I see in play.