For Release: November 2, 1999
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x106 or [email protected]
A politician in blackface and the liberal record of a black judge dominate politics in Missouri and raise the ugly and divisive specter of racial politics nationwide. Project 21 members deplore the use of the "race card" and the threat it now poses to a fair and impartial judiciary.
In October, the U.S. Senate voted against the nomination of Judge Ronnie White to a federal judgeship. Missouri Senator John Ashcroft, a Republican, led the opposition to White, who is black, on White's lenient "record in criminal, and particularly death penalty cases." Two state prosecutors' offices and 77 of Missouri's 114 sheriffs opposed White's nomination, with one prosecutor calling White "unmistakably anti-law enforcement."
Although many senators said they were unaware of White's race, critics are calling the vote racist. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, "Senator Ashcroft and Senator Bond [R-MO] are both racists, have acted in a racist manner [and] the Republican conference of the U.S. Senate has acted in a racist manner." Ashcroft responded that "Americans of all color are entitled to effective protection from violent criminals and illegal drugs" and opposed White for his "poor record" on those issues. Ashcroft has a 90% favorable voting record of black judicial nominees and made many African-American appointments as governor of Missouri.
A recent report by Georgetown University's Constitution Project found no difference in the confirmation time of black and white judicial nominees, indicating there is no outright bias toward black nominees. Tom Jipping of the Free Congress Foundation, however, points out: "Many of President Clinton's most liberal, most activist nominees also happen to be minorities... He is intentionally sending controversial nominees to the Senate, hoping that Republicans will be so afraid of being called racist that they will lower their standards and confirm nominees who would be unacceptable if they were white."
"Beware the white person who dares disagree with a black person solely on moral, ethical, intellectual or ideological grounds. To do so earns the title of - shudder, shudder - RACIST," said Project 21 member M.L. Gibbs. "Once again, the liberal mind has resorted to name-calling, character assassination and, to repeat a Clintonese expression, 'the politics of personal destruction' when it doesn't get its way. Let Judge White's record stand on its own merit and leave race out of it."
Coincidentally, Ashcroft's expected opponent for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2000, current Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, is being given a pass on his own racial scandal. A recently-resurfaced photo of Carnahan performing in blackface in 1961, denounced as "racist" by black Republican State Representative Carson Ross, was simply dismissed as a "dirty trick" by Pastor Earl Nance, Jr - even though Carnahan has admitted and apologized for his past mocking behavior. Nance opposed Ashcroft for his vote, but not Carnahan for his actions.
"Those who consider themselves intelligent and rational should base their agruments on the principles of prosperity and freedom for all, and perfom in line with those principles," said Project 21 member Kariem Abdul Haqq, a Missouri resident. "To turn every issue into a race issue is a disservice to all Missourians and a waste of time and energy. This kind of behavior sends the message that African-Americans are inferior, weak and that others are to blame for our problems and perpetuates mistrust, division and hate among the races. We need to work together on sound principles if we, as Missourians, are to advance in the new millenium."
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community
since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110
x106 or [email protected],
or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.