Are Black Leaders Guilty of “Criminal Neglect”? by Kevin Martin

My sympathies go out to the thousands who journeyed to Washington or camped in front of the television for Minister Louis Farrakhan’s recent “Millions More March.”

For the time and effort spectators put into the rally, there was little real payoff.  Quite simply, it was continued fixation on our perceived problems with little regard for how we may solve them… if they even exist.

At the rally, our liberal black “leaders” – including Reverend Jesse Jackson, Congressional Black Caucus chairman Mel Watt (D-NC) and Minister Farrakhan himself – were quick to blame the federal government and President George W. Bush for the troubles of black America.  Farrakhan even claimed that “criminal neglect” and a sinister bombing conspiracy destroyed New Orleans’s levees.  He called upon the residents of that city’s Lower Ninth Ward to join him in a class-action lawsuit against the Bush Administration.

If anyone should be named in a class-action lawsuit, it is our “leaders.”  From perpetuating substandard education in our inner-cities to denying us economic independence, these leaders seem to have done little more than enrich themselves and consolidate their political power on our backs.

Reverend Jackson may complain about poor blacks’ quality of life, but has he contributed to this degradation?  Jackson’s sons, for example, were awarded the Chicago Anheuser-Busch distributorship in the early 1980s after their father initiated a boycott of the company’s products.  While Jackson can be appalled by inner-city Chicago, he needs to remember his sons have made possibly millions pumping malt liquor into these neighborhoods.

While Reverend Jackson rages over the Iraq-related earnings of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former employer, Halliburton, he seems to exempt himself from criticism over his alleged financial shakedowns of companies such as Toyota, Citibank and Coca-Cola.

What about Minister Farrakhan?  Ten years ago, marchers forked over handfuls of cash to support his economic plan.  What happened to it?  The Millions More Movement certainly didn’t celebrate its unbridled success or its fiscal accountability.

Minister Farrakhan questions our nation’s War on Terror, but it begs asking if his criticism is related to his past close relationship with Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi – a man who now freely admits his past ties to terrorists and ambitions of acquiring weapons of mass destruction?

During his speech, referring to Iraq and Afghanistan, Minister Farrakhan announced his sadness at the loss of any innocent life.  Nothing was said, however, about the 13 million black babies lost to the ethnic genocide that is abortion in America.  Abortion is championed by Reverend Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus as “reproduction rights.”  What about the countless black African Muslims killed in Sudan?  They seemed to be forgotten as well.

Everyone recognized the need for quality education, but our self-proclaimed leaders refuse to give parents control of the money spent on their kids in the form of portable school choice vouchers.  Throwing more money into an underachieving system is an obvious failure, but it seems to be their mantra.  Adding insult to injury is the fact that these black politicians, teachers union officials and other leaders who have the personal wealth that gives them a choice in where to send their kids send them to the private schools they deny to struggling black families.

Minister Farrakhan likened America to a biblical statue – with the rich making up the golden top, the middle class comprising the silver torso and the poor at the lead bottom.  This makes some sense, but it is not representative of America as a whole as much as it symbolizes the black community – with the likes of Jackson and Farrakhan with the gold and most of the rest of us at the base.

It is time to not only question the motives of those claiming to be our leaders, but to hold them responsible for any criminal neglect that they have allowed to be inflicted upon our community over the last 40 years.

Kevin Martin is a member of the national advisory council of the black leadership network Project 21.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.

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