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OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham Dr. Wilmer Leon JUNE 18, 2011 - 10 pm ET

              

                                                       June 18, 2011          10 pm EDT

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Guest:  Dr. Wilmer Leon

 

Political Analyst, Commentator and Talk Radio Host, XM Radio "The Power"

 

Wilmer J. Leon III, Ph.D. is a Political Scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics, American Government, and Public Policy.  He is a Teaching Associate in the Political Science Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C., nationally broadcast radio talk show host, columnist, commentator, political consultant, lecturer, and much sought after motivational speaker.

 

 Dr. Leon earned a BS degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from Howard University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.

 

 A serious void exists in the public discourse relating to the issues that directly and/or disproportionately impact the global village in which we live. Dr. Leon’s lectures and writings focus on issues such as the medias coverage of national and international issues, the criminal industrial complex, environmental racism, school vouchers, health care, crime policy, economic globalization, American domestic and foreign policy from as much of a non-biased and academically accurate perspective as possible.  Dr. Leon’s perspective and lectures are grounded in the history of the African American community and the tradition of African American scholarship.

 

 

Dr. Leon is also the host/producer of the nationally broadcast call in talk radio program On With Leon on XM/Sirius satellite radio channel 169 “The Power”. He is a regular guest on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, and a contributing columnist to TruthOut.org, PoliticsInColor.com, and Black Star News.com

 

Dr. Leon and Janice, long time colleagues, will discuss the full landscape of Black political issues, the Congress, the Obama Administration, and other current events, including the housing and financial recovery.  They will share their mutual love of American jazz and views on the media and take your calls.

 

 

 

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From Your Black World

Dr. Wilmer Leon: Republican Hypocrisy and Peculiar Moral Distractions

June 3, 2011

Dr. Wilmer Leon: Republican Hypocrisy and Peculiar Moral Distractions

June 3, 2011

 

 

On June 1st Kathy Hochul (D-NY) was sworn in as the newest member of Congress. She won her seat in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Republican Chris Lee in New York’s 26th District, pulling off what many consider to be the biggest political upset since Republican Scott Brown snatched the “Kennedy” seat away from Martha Coakley in Massachusetts.  This seat in NY had been held by Republicans since the 1960s.  This district is so staunchly Republican that in the 2008 presidential election its members supported McCain (R-AZ) while the remainder of NY State supported Senator Obama.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA.) does not see this upset as an indicator of pending change.  He told reporters, “I do not think it can be seen as a signal as to the role of the budget reforms that we have proposed, including that in Medicare, … I know this town (Washington) loves to take signals from individual races. I think the best signal you can take is the 63 seats that we picked up in November.” Obviously, Cantor is driving down this ideological road using only his rear view mirror; failing to see the “bridge closed” signs right in front of him.

First, it is important to understand why Republican Chris Lee, a member of the party of “family values” vacated his seat.  Lee resigned in February just hours after a Web site reported that the married congressman was soliciting women on the internet and sent a shirtless image of himself to a woman he met on Craigslist.

It is important to analyze this “moral lapse” in its broader historical context.  These things don’t happen in a vacuum.  It is just the most recent example of the moral hypocrisy demonstrated by the self-anointed arbiters of American “family values.”  Lest we forget:

  • Former Republican Congressman Mark Foley, once known as a crusader against child abuse and exploitation resigned from Congress on September 29, 2006 after allegations surfaced that he had sent suggestive emails and sexually explicit instant messages to teenaged boys who had formerly served and were at that time serving as Congressional pages.
  • Former Florida state representative and Republican Bob Allen was arrested July 2007 outside the men’s restroom at a Titusville park after offering to perform a sex act on a plainclothes police officer. Allen sponsored the “Sexual Predator Elimination Act.” Before his 2006 re-election had received a 92 percent rating from the Christian Coalition of Florida. Bob Allen is married.
  • Republican Senator Larry Craig was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of lewd conduct.  Craig pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
  • Senator John Ensign (R-NV) resigned May 3, 2011 after admitting to having an extramarital affair with a married campaign staff member, Cynthia Hampton.  The Senate ethics investigation focused in part on some $96,000 Ensign’s parents gave Hampton.
  • Former House Speaker and Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich’s extra marital affairs are well documented.

 

It’s not that Democrats are without sin, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) are recent examples of that fact. It’s that Republicans are the ones who have intentionally injected ideological Christianity into mainstream American politics.  They have created a litmus test for “family values” solely to gain political advantage. However, since their rhetoric was designed for personal gain and often times has little to do with reality, many of them have been exposed as hypocrites.  It has become clear to many Americans that those “family values” are the values of a very dysfunctional family.

Second, during the 2010 mid-term elections Republicans sold America a pig-in-a-poke by claiming budgets could be balanced by going after “waste, fraud and abuse” as well as maintaining that “there’s not a revenue problem but a spending problem.” 

They lied! The NY 26th district race became the first test on a national level of the political viability of this Republican scheme aka the “Ryan Budget”.  One element of Ryan’s (R-WI) budget is to privatize Medicare the same way Republicans tried to privatize Social Security.  They want to gut Medicare by shifting the government provided health-care coverage for retirees to the accounts of for-profit insurance companies. Voters in NY saw this fraud and summarily rejected it along with the Republican candidate Jane Corwin who supported it.

The focus on budget cuts is an attempt to distract attention away from the damage being caused by extending the Bush-era tax cuts.  Trickle down or “voodoo economics” failed during the Reagan years and is failing now.  The country would have been better served by allowing the tax cuts to expire and using the additional revenue to support the states.

 

All politics is local.  The May 26, NY District 26 Republican failure came on the heels of a number of Republican statehouse failures for similar reasons.  On May 5 in Wisconsin, Republicans lost a “sure” seat to Democrat Steve Doyle. In Maine, on May 13th Democrat Cynthia Hill picked up a state senate seat previously held by the Republicans.  In New Hampshire on May 18 Democrat Jennifer Daler won a surprise victory claiming a seat that Republicans had held since 2004 in a statehouse special election.  These are all evidence of a repudiation of neo-conservative scare tactics on the state level.

 

Third, to literally add insult to injury Cantor (R-VA) and other Republicans have adopted the morally bankrupt ideology of tying the balancing of the budget to disaster relief. The Republicans are already trying to balance the budget on the backs of working class and middle class Americans. Now Cantor is reiterating his position that disaster relief funds for the tornado victims in Joplin, Missouri “must be paid for with cuts to other programs.” Not only will this impact individual victims in Joplin but failure to provide immediate relief also impacts small business.  Tim Manning, Deputy Administrator FEMA stated on Fox 5 News in Washington, DC that 40% of small businesses struck by a national disaster never recover. This could devastate long-term economic recovery in the region at the very time it is needed most. These are the same Republicans that claimed that the President’s proposed 3% increase of taxes on the people that earned over $250K would devastate small business.

 

Ideology does make for bad policy. Whether it’s ideological Christian conservatism as the litmus test for “family values” or a knee-jerk reactionary, race-baited, neo-conservative “Tea Party” driven ideology of less government means a better America; the electorate is slowly awaking to the nightmare that it voted for in mid-term 2010.  It is a long ideological road to nowhere filled with potholes and dead-ends for working and middle class families, while transferring wealth to those who already have more than most.

 

Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon

© 2011 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

Dr. Wilmer Leon on Obama: Honest Criticism is not Betrayal, it’s Democratic

TruthOut.org

May 20, 2011

 

A very troubling pattern is developing within certain segments of the African American community. There’s a concerted effort by some within the community to silence those who are offering honest, valid, and well thought through analysis and criticism of the Obama administration.

Radio host Tom Joyner recently told his audience that those who criticize the President are “haters” and need to be quiet because he (President Obama) doesn’t need the Black vote to be split. On his radio program Rev. Al Sharpton recently attacked the motivations and integrity of those, myself included (full disclosure) who questioned President Obama’s willingness to meet with the CBC to discuss targeted jobs legislation. Former Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Perry recently referred to Professor Cornell West’s critique of the Obama administration as, “a self-aggrandizing, victimology sermon deceptively wrapped in the discourse of prophetic witness…” As these and others attack the messengers, their analysis of the relevance of the message is woefully lacking.

These ad hominem attacks by Sharpton, Joyner, Harris-Perry and others, as well intended as they may be are very dangerous to the African American community and the democratic process. In Germany in 1933, one of the elements that brought an end to the Weimar Republic was an intolerance of dissenting opinions and vicious personal attacks on individuals who questioned the direction of the government. In 1950 McCarthyism was the order of the day; unsupported accusations of disloyalty ruined a number of careers and lives in this country. Is the African American community in the midst of a Weimar or McCarthy moment?
Anecdotally, as others in the community attempt to engage in informed debate about the dismissals of Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, allowing the Bush era tax cuts to continue, the escalation from two military endeavors to three (Libya), lack of support for union workers in Wisconsin, and other issues; they are summarily dismissed as traitors, “haters”, crazy, and misinformed. Or, as Professor Harris-Perry describes, “the self-appointed black leadership class that has been largely supplanted in recent years.”

What is being overlooked is the fact that honest constructive criticism is not betrayal, it’s key to the democratic process. In a representative democracy it is very important for citizens to vote but voting in and of itself is not enough. Staying engaged in the process and holding your elected representatives accountable is of the utmost importance and truly demonstrates democracy in action. If an interest group is not getting what it voted for it is obligated to protest, question, and demand that it does.

Tom Joyner asked, “What would it be like without a black man in office?” followed by the statement, “If you don’t support him it will be much worse.” It must be clearly understood that having an African American in the Oval Office is not in-and-of itself a victory. Without substantive and measurable policy outputs that benefit the African American community, the ethnic makeup of the president is irrelevant. Also, is the “…it will be much worse” statement supposed to be a comparison to Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Representative Michele Bachmannn (R-MN) or some other neo-conservative reactionary politician ? If so, why should African Americans assess success by comparisons to the worst for us instead of policy outputs that are the best for us?

The critics of President Obama are not comparing him to some baseless abstract standard. In most instances they are comparing Obama to Obama. He pledged to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay; pledged to fight for the public option; pledged to end the Bush-era tax cuts, and pledged to give “change we can believe in.” Many are claiming the more things change the more they look like Bush.

To demonstrate his support to the Hispanic community President Obama nominated the first Hispanic female Supreme Court Justice and supports the Hispanic communities call for comprehensive immigration reform by saying, “I want to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, to enforce our laws and also to address the status of millions of undocumented workers.” To demonstrate his support to the Gay/Lesbian community, President Obama supported ending the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. To demonstrate his support for women and feminists in America he signed the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”. Even as the tide shifts in the Middle-East, the Obama Administration continues to provide unyielding support for Zionist interests in America. As the African American community evaluates its issues and options leading into 2012 and looks at a 16.2% unemployment rate, why not expect President Obama to use his bully pulpit to support targeted unemployment legislation to address this issue?

In 1857 Fredrick Douglas said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.” President Obama is the one in power therefore the African American community must demand from him support for its just due. For the Joyner’s, Sharpton’s, and Harris-Perry’s of the world to call for quiet submission is dangerous and a clear demonstration of the exact measure of injustice they are willing to tolerate. Honest Criticism is not Betrayal, it’s Democratic.


Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” and a Teaching Associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: wjl3us@yahoo.com. www.twitter.com/drwleon

© 2011 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright and the Audacity of Truth

by: Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

    Over the past week or so, mainstream media have turned much of their attention to the fiery sermons of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. Dr. Wright is pastor to Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and his family. He was also, until recently, pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ of Chicago.

    Most of the discussion and commentary about Dr. Wright's sermons have come from a predominantly white media. The points of discussion have centered on what they consider to be the "vile, racist and un-American things" said by Dr. Wright. Very few, if any, of the discussions have focused on the historical basis and accuracy of what Dr. Wright actually said.

    The major problem with the discussions is they have been largely one-sided. The media have used the imagery of Dr. Wright, clad in African garb, shouting in the cadence of an old-time fire and brimstone minister and playing to the camera as a scare tactic. Has this become the "Willie Hortonization" of Senator Barack Obama? The reporting and commentary on Dr. Wright's words have been presented from the perspective of people who either have no appreciation for the African-American historical experience or a personal agenda when it comes to presenting these issues.

    Dr. Wright is under attack for saying such things as "... the government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strikes law, and then wants us (African-Americans) to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no; not 'God Bless America,' God damn America ... for killing innocent people; God damn America for treating its citizens as less than human...." These are very strong words, delivered at what many are calling a possible turning point in American history with regard to America's willingness to elect an African-American candidate. While the mainstream media have found no merit in any of Dr. Wright's statements, let's examine their merit from a historical basis.

    When people read the Constitution, the supreme law of the United States, they see the oldest governing constitution in the world. They see a great document that has articulated the precepts of life, liberty and happiness that all in this country try to follow. What is often overlooked are the parts of the Constitution that laid the foundation for hundreds of years of slavery and oppression for African-Americans; the constitutional framework for human beings to be treated as less than human. It's these sections of the Constitution that America has never truly atoned for and still refuses to make right.

    Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution stated, "Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." This was known as the Three-Fifths Compromise and laid the groundwork for African slaves brought into America as forced labor to be defined as non-persons.

    Article I, Section 9 allowed the importation of slaves to continue in America for twenty-one years after ratification of the Constitution by declaring: "The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person." This section only outlawed the importation of slaves once the domestic stock of slaves could be replenished by natural birthrates and importation would no longer be needed; again, treating its citizens as less than human.

    Article IV, Section 2 stated, "No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due." This was enforced by Congress on September 18, 1850, when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, allowing Southern states to reclaim slaves that had escaped to the North.

    The Three Fifths Compromise and the Fugitive Slave provisions were superseded by constitutional amendments only after their damage to African-Americans had been done and the benefit to America had been served.

    It is very easy to wrap oneself in the history and glory that is America and forget that from 1619 to 1868 (249 years) African-Americans suffered under the brutality and oppression of government-supported chattel slavery. In 1857, as Dred Scott, a slave, petitioned the US Supreme Court for his freedom, Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote, "beings of an inferior order (African-Americans), and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

    Even after the 13th Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, the 14th Amendment granted their citizenship, and the 15th Amendment grated them the right to vote, from 1876 to 1965 (89 years) African-Americans continued to suffer under state-supported Jim Crow oppression in America. This was codified in 1896 by another Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the doctrine of separate but equal. These vestiges of slavery and oppression still plague many sectors of the African-American community, and the sense of white privilege they created continues to foster a false sense of white entitlement.

    This is just the historical background for Dr. Wright's comments. During his lifetime he has dealt with segregated schools, separate and unequal education, and discrimination in housing, employment and lending. He has witnessed civil rights protesters beaten by the police, ravaged by dogs, brutalized by fire hoses and COINTELPRO. Since his birth in 1941, an estimated 40 African-Americans have been lynched in this country. He was 14 years old when Emmett Till was brutally murdered and 23 years old when James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were killed. Americans continue to deal with racial profiling, driving while black, the disproportionate rate of incarceration of African-Americans, the suspension of habeas corpus, warrantless wiretapping and other constitutional violations.

    Regarding Dr. Wright's comments about drugs and AIDS, let's not forget the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. From 1932 to 1972, the US Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. In his May 16, 1997, apology, President Bill Clinton said:

    "The United States government did something that was wrong - deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens ... clearly racist."

    With this historical understanding, it is not too far-fetched to think that the US government could be involved in similar activity as it relates to AIDS.

    What has been conspicuously absent from the discussions about Dr. Wright's comments in mainstream media is any analysis of the validity of his comments based upon his personal history and life experiences. It is very easy for white commentators such as Bill O'Reilly to dismiss his sermons as racist diatribes, since O'Reilly has no interest in trying to understand the plight of people of color in America.

    Dr. Wright has also said, "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is brought right back into our own front yard; America's chickens are coming home to roost...." Well, let's examine the record.

    The Arms Exports Control Act prohibits the president from furnishing military aid to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. In spite of all of the evidence supporting claims of the Israeli government's human rights abuses of the Palestinian people, for FY2005 the United States provided $2.22 billion in military aid. This aid to Israel has a dramatic effect on Israel's policies towards the Palestinians. It is the US funding that pays for the guns and ammunition, F-16 bombers and Apache helicopters that are used to carry out Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and people.

    According to The Boston Globe, in 1984, just after Ronald Reagan's re-election, Bishop Desmond Tutu referred to the Reagan administration's support for the South African government as "Immoral, evil and totally un-Christian." Reagan ignored the rising number of Americans who were calling for American companies to stop doing business there. The president of so-called sunny optimism attempted to blind Americans with his policy of "constructive engagement" with the white minority regime in Pretoria. All constructive engagement did was give the white minority more time to mow down the black majority in the streets and keep dreamers of democracy, such as Nelson Mandela, behind bars.

    History is replete with examples of the United States arranging to depose foreign leaders. In 1909, President Taft ordered the overthrow of Nicaraguan President Jose Santos Zelaya. According to Stephen Kinzer, "In Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam and Chile, diplomats and intelligence agents replaced generals as the instruments of American intervention." More recent examples of US intervention would be the invasion of Panama and the illegal invasion of Iraq.

    Some may take issue with the earlier statement, "... the government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strikes law, ..." by asking, "is Rev. Wright accusing the US government of supplying drugs to the black community?" This story has been well-documented in the 1996 San Jose Mercury News expose entitled "Dark Alliance: The CIA Complicity in the Crack Epidemic."

    I can understand people being uncomfortable with the comments made by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. White Americans have also been lied to, miseducated and desensitized about the plight of African-Americans. With the help of the social conservative agenda, many have developed a "deaf ear" when it comes to issues regarding race. The truth, especially an ugly truth that forces Americans to examine the precepts of America, "with liberty and justice for all," and compare them with the hypocrisy of the American reality can be troubling. For far too long, Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security. Americans have believed history as told by the oppressor and failed to understand the reality of the oppressed.

    Dr. Wright is not un-American. He embodies what America was founded upon, the free exchange of ideas in the public space, speaking truth to power, challenging America to be the best that it can be. The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright's views might not reconcile with many Americans' perceptions of America, but they must not be discarded as the ranting of an angry man. His statements were founded in the historical truths that African-Americans have and continue to live through.Creative Commons License

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