CBC Silence is Deafening, by Eddie Huff

Sometimes what people don’t say is more important than what they do say. This applies to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and other the so-called black leaders in this country.

CBC members and others are calling for an investigation into U.S. involvement in the ouster of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Accusations that Aristide was kidnapped, and allegations of other crimes, are being made against the Bush Administration and Secretary of State Colin Powell in particular.

Interesting about this selective outrage is its irony. The accusations and investigation demands over Haiti fell on the 10th anniversary of the tragic mass genocide in Rwanda. Africa Focus recently released several reports on the Rwanda situation that sharply criticize the United Nations and the Clinton Administration for inaction while approximately one million Rwandans were slaughtered. The CBC has been largely silent about this over the last ten years. CBC members have made not one request for an investigation.

A new report based on declassified documents, released by the National Security Archive on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, confirms earlier reports that a lack of political will and not a lack of information stopped the U.S. from acting to check the killing. Despite official inquiries by the U.N. and the Organization of African Unity, legislative inquiries in Belgium and France and a host of unofficial books and reports, there has been no official U.S. inquiry into responsibilities for these failures.

Why is the CBC so interested in investigating a matter in which hundreds, if not thousands, of lives were saved in Haiti by avoiding a bloody coup while completely ignoring questions about one million black lives lost in Rwanda due to American inaction?

Richard Clarke is the current darling of the anti-Bush crowd. When the former National Security Council (NSC) staffer appeared on “60 Minutes,” these people reveled in his description of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice’s alleged blank expression as he described a growing al Queda threat to America. The clear implication was Rice is stupid and incompetent. Rather than bristling against this negative insinuation against a high-ranking black female policymaker, the CBC was firmly on Clarke’s side.

When the Rwanda crisis was building, who at the NSC recommended the U.S. and U.N. pull-out that aided the genocide? It wasn’t Rice. It was Clarke. And the CBC is silent about his grave mistake.

There’s yet another matter on which the CBC is remarkably silent. The U.S. Senate recently marked the 17,000th vote cast by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), in praising Byrd, said Byrd would have been the right man to help lead our government throughout our nation’s history – including the drafting of the Constitution, the Civil War and during the 1940s. Byrd was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, he opposed the integration of the military, he lead a filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and he has voted against every black nominee confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. How would he be the “right man” to have led this nation at those times, or even now?

Was this not the same Senator Dodd and his CBC allies who wanted and got Republican Senator Trent Lott’s head for making similar remarks at a party for retiring GOP Senator Strom Thurmond in 2002? The CBC is now strangely silent.

It’s a sad fact that the CBC and other dominant black leaders risk becoming nothing more than New Establishment Uncle Toms.

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