Archive for the ‘Latest News’ Category

NAACP URGED TO REJECT ITS EX-CHAIR’S CALL FOR “VIEWPOINT DISCRIMINATION” BY IRS

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

The NAACP was urged by our executive director to reject its Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond’s call for “viewpoint discrimination” by the Internal Revenue Service when it considers the applications of ideologically conservative groups (like Tea-Party-affiliated organizations) seeking 501c4 tax-exempt status. Bond recently told MSNBC TV viewers that the IRS was correct, in his judgment, to single out Tea Party-affiliated groups for extra scrutiny because such groups are “racist” . The subtext of Julian Bond’s comments is that “conservative groups” are political in nature and have been opposed to the policies of America’s first African American President. That is not an acceptable legal standard for IRS to follow, we advised the NAACP, and urged the NAACP to break with Julian Bond’s call for such odious viewpoint discrimination. Bond’s criteria–racist and too political–could as well be applied against the NAACP, some could argue. Indeed, the NAACP’s own tax-exemption was recently questioned on similar grounds. The IRS did not withdraw the NAACP’s tax-exemption.

Michael Meyers’ statement follows:

May 21, 2013

We contest and debunk as “sheer racial rhetoric” and “errant nonsense” the assertion of NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond that because he regards the Tea Party Movement as “racist” and “the Taliban wing of American politics” Tea Party affiliated groups seeking tax-exemption status warrant “extra scrutiny” by the Internal Revenue Service.

Michael Meyers,our executive director, himself a former Assistant National Director of the NAACP, has released the following statement condemning as “poisonous racial rhetoric” and “lunacy” Julian Bond’s claim that the government should exercise viewpoint discrimination when reviewing applications of non-profit and advocacy groups for tax-exempt status:

“NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond’s assertion that it’s OK for the IRS to have subjected Tea Party affiliated groups seeking tax-exempt status to extra and discriminatory scrutiny–because, according to Bond, Tea Party groups and loyalists are “admittedly racist” and “overtly political”–is sheer racial rhetoric and in every way an irrational rant. Julian Bond upped the ante by alleging that Tea Party groups represent ‘the Taliban wing of American politics.’

“Aside from his poisonous racial rhetoric–and his concomitant failure to supply any evidence for his assertion of “racism” on the part of the Tea Party movement–it is the most shocking that Bond, a civil rights activist and history professor, doesn’t know that the First Amendment does not allow viewpoint discrimination by government.  Indeed, there are some who might similarly argue and complain to IRS that the tax-exempted NAACP is itself “racist” and “overtly political” in its voting registration campaigns and unflagging support of President Obama.  But, it would be wrong for the IRS to scrutinize or challenge theNAACP’s tax-exemption on the mere assertion much less ostensible ground that the NAACP is either ‘racist’ or ‘overtly political.’ Yet, Julian Bond’s rant suggests that there could conceivably be one tax-exempt rule for mostly black (liberal) civil rights groups and another standard for mostly white (conservative) civil rights groups.

“Equally repugnant and absurd was Bond’s comparing the Tea Party movement with the noxious Taliban, the Taliban which has committed ethnic massacres, persecuted non-believers and Muslims, and practiced invidious and pernicious discrimination against women. Bond’s errant nonsense evinces a shocking and sorrowful display of irrationality if not outright lunacy in the guise of ‘civil rights’ advocacy.  Accordingly, the NAACP should disassociate itself from its former chairman’s irrational rant. It is not enough for conservatives alone to condemn Bond’s sheer racial rhetoric; liberals, like me, who side with neutral principles of equal protection of the law for everyone and every group, regardless of their viewpoints, should also protest and condemn Julian Bond’s overt support for a wretched abuse of governmental power by the IRS.”

Michael Meyers, executive director, New York Civil Rights Coalition (www.nycivilrights.org)

STOP, QUESTION AND FRISK….

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

 
The circumstances of a legitimate, lawful stop and frisk by police officers is still a contentious issue in New York City. The media have not all been responsible much less factual and accurate in their reporting and editorials on the topic. For instance, the New York Post recently editorialized that the possibility of the appointment of a special Inspector General at NYPD to oversee “stop and frisk” would invite “mayhem” by undermining, if not ending, an effective law enforcement tool.

We sent, and the New York Post, ran, a LETTER TO THE EDITOR responding to the newspaper’s editorial. Here is our letter that was published in the NEW YORK POST on March 23:

 

New York Post

Letters

Attacking the NYPD: wannabes’ bid for votes

March 23, 2013

 

The Issue: Whether the City Council’s push for more oversight of the NYPD would help or hurt the city.
To the Editor:

The editorial “Invitation to Mayhem” is misinformed on the law and circumstances of legitimate stops and frisks.

A stop is permissible when a cop has reasonable suspicion a person is involved in a crime.

A frisk is allowed only when the officer has an articulable basis to pat for a weapon, such as seeing a bulge resembling a gun. That frisk is for the cop’s safety.

But wide-scale stops and frisks cannot be countenanced as a strategy for crime fighting by rounding up the usual suspects — mostly young blacks and Hispanics.

Such behavior is racial profiling and will invite community resentment and legal challenge.

Besides being an affront to our constitutional protections, unfettered stops and frisks on the basis of hunches or arrest quotas violate our sensibilities as a free people.

Cops, too, must obey the law. If police misconduct is your measure of law and order, that will invite mayhem.

Michael Meyers

New York Civil Rights Coalition

Manhattan

***

A Harlem resident, taking issue with our letter to the editor of The New York Post, sent us a copy of her letter to NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in which she backed stop and frisk practices as an effective and necessary NYPD crime-fighting tactic. She compared the stop and searching of black and Hispanic youths to the necessary searches at airports, for our collective safety.

This is our reply to the correspondent:

April 2, 2013

Dear Madam:

I have the copy of your letter to Commissioner Kelly.

We will just have to disagree on this one.

The Police Commissioner doesn’t need encouragement to enforce the law–nor should he need encouragement to obey the law. When top brass at NYPD (as it has been alleged) order arrest quotas or direct officers to stop, question and frisk young men on the basis of their skin color being black or brown–that is unlawful racial profiling by the police. The courts have made it clear that police do not have any authority to break the law in the name of protecting society much less to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights just because the police officers mean well. That is not a constitutional standard that is recognized or in force anywhere in the United States.

As far as security at airports is concerned–that’s altogether different. Bags are checked and persons who seek to board airplanes may be X-rayed and patted down (and even searched) because when they board airplanes they do so voluntarily–that is, if they want to fly, they must consent to the search or else walk away. 

People who are using the sidewalks to walk home, to go to and from school, to shop, or,  for that matter, if they’re just standing peaceably (without blocking or interfering with the rights of others) on the sidewalks, socializing, are entitled to the legal protection of not being stopped and questioned and frisked by police officers who regard their mere presence or their just standing there a threat to the community. Just because –as Kelly cynically points out–that most violent crimes are committed by young blacks and/or Hispanics, police are not allowed to round up the “usual suspects’ or hassle people on the basis that most crimes are committed by “young blacks”.  Skin color alone is not a legal basis for suspecting someone of having committed or being in the process commiting a crime.  

Your argument is with the Constitution of the United States; and, it will take more than a wish on your part to either amend the Constitution or to have police brass violate or ignore the Constitution. That is what distinguishes and makes us a free people and makes ours a free society, not a police state.

With best wishes,

Michael Meyers

 

 

MSNBC HAS “A ‘RACE’ PROBLEM,” NETWORK EXECS TOLD

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

When we wrote to the brass at NBC/MSNBC, including to the Chairman of Comcast, the corporate owner of NBC, we got a prompt reply from the executive producer of the Morning Joe show, on which two compensated MSNBC pundits had accused critics of Mayor Bloomberg of harboring anti-Semitic feelings. The pundits offered no evidence and no examples for their accusation. We sent a follow up letter (below) to our first that in effect said hosts, co-hosts and compensated pundits on MSNBC talk shows too frequently raised false alarms about racism and engaged in other such calumny directed at critics of its talkers’ ideological bent. We told the network’s executives that MSNBC “has a ‘race’ problem.”

Michael Meyers’ open letter addressed to Alex Korson, the executive producer of Morning Joe, and copied to network brass, follows:

 

March 29, 2013

 
Alex Korson
Executive Producer
MORNING JOE/MSNBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112

Dear Mr. Korson:

Thank you very much for your prompt response to my open letter to the Comcast Chairman and MSNBC executives.

I wish to assure you that I am a regular viewer of Morning Joe, and as such I endure the host and panelists talking over each other, and I suffer through, seemingly daily, Eugene Robinson’s interminable “you knows” when expressing his views. And, yes, I watched and listened to the segment in its entirety about which I wrote to MSNBC’s management.

It was during the discussion of Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership and funding of the multi-million dollar advertising campaign to gain public support for further gun control legislation that Mike Barnicle piped in with his surmise about an element of “anti-Semitism” in the opposition to Mayor Bloomberg. He said, as you know, “Let’s get down to it. Mike Bloomberg [emphasis on Bloomberg], Mayor of New York City. I mean. There’s a level of anti-Semitism in this thing, directed toward Bloomberg.”

And Al Sharpton immediately agreed with Barnicle, adding, “There’s no doubt about it. But if he were not a big-city Jewish man, in some parts I think it would be different.”

I did not take those remarks out of order or out of context. Rather, out of order—and out of the blue—was Mike Barnicle’s allegation of anti-Semitism as a motivating factor among the critics of Mayor Bloomberg. Barnicle’s allegation was not only speculative it was baseless inasmuch as he made the charge without offering a shred of evidence to support his bizarre claim. The “support” for Barnicle’s claim came from MSNBC pundit Al Sharpton, although Sharpton, too, did not offer any evidence for their indignant accusation of anti-Semitic bigotry on the part of Mayor Bloomberg’s critics.
I must admit that in my first writing to Comcast/MSNBC about this matter I did not think of Al Sharpton as any authority on the subject of anti-Semitism. So, Sharpton’s offering his support for Barnicle’s absurd and vile assumption of a “level of anti-Semitism” out there about Mayor Bloomberg, I did not imagine that that was Sharpton offering up scholarly proof. My colleagues subsequently reminded me that the Al Sharpton of Freddy’s Fashion Mart on 125th Street fame—the owner of which he called a “white interloper”—and the Al Sharpton who decried Jews in Crown Heights as “diamond merchants”—knows something about anti-Semitism. Al Sharpton’s notoriety on the subject notwithstanding is not dispositive; it is not enough to either explain or support Mike Barnicle’s invention of “anti-Semitism” behind the opposition to Mayor Bloomberg or to Mayor Bloomberg’s gun-control or other initiatives.

You point out that Dan Senor was at the table on Morning Joe, and that Senor disagreed with Barnicle and Sharpton’s insertion and assertion of anti-Semitism into the discussion. Yes, he was; and, yes Dan Senor disagreed with them. But there was no refutation of the absurdity and the insanity of the claim of anti-Semitism. There was no demand for proof to back up their accusation of anti-Semitism. There was nothing by way of a confrontation to have either Mike Barnicle or Al Sharpton to put up or shut up, much less stand down and take back their reckless claim of anti-Semitism. Nothing like that came from any panelist; that, I expected from the MSNBC host and from the management of MSNBC. So, in my judgment, there was no immediate or subsequent rebuke from MSNBC, much less refutation of the overblown rhetoric of Barnicle and Sharpton.

The accusation that critics of Mayor Bloomberg are anti-Semitic warrants something more effective and substantial than mere disagreement from a single panelist on the show; it deserves a demand from MSNBC that the opinions of its compensated pundits be informed and guided by solid evidence. To my knowledge, MSNBC executives have not demanded such evidence of either Mike Barnicle or Al Sharpton. Rather, your reply suggests that we, who have called your attention to this matter, have taken their remarks out of context. The truth is their charge of anti-Semitism is out of order; it is divisive; it is phony; it is manifestly insupportable—in the context of the discussion. And it is especially outrageous because it was a smear against those who simply do not agree with Mayor Bloomberg.

Our beef is not strictly with Morning Joe; and while we appreciate your reply to my open letter it was not directed at or intended for you per se as executive producer of Morning Joe. Our complaint is broader and emblematic of our larger concerns about character assassination and smears against people who disagree with MSNBC compensated pundits and hosts, co-hosts, and substitute hosts. The smears frequently come around matters related to—and wholly unconnected with—“race” and ethnicity and minority status. MSNBC’s “opinion journalism” and on-air commentary too often invokes—needlessly and recklessly—“race.” The latest example is the commentary of MSNBC’s Toure—who very recently lambasted Dr. Benjamin Carson, the renowned neurosurgeon, he who just happens to be African American. Dr. Carson was depicted as some kind of a black lackey (my words), as a token whose own opinions are supposedly intended to meet the emotional needs of white conservatives. Toure referred to Dr. Carson, derisively, as the “black “friend” of white conservatives.

Toure’s actual words are worse than my paraphrase:

“…It’s time for a new ‘black friend.’ Enter Dr. Ben Carson! He’s smart! And helpful in assuaging their guilt…”

We deplore the racial calumny that is routinely, almost reflexively, directed at blacks, and whites, who disagree with the MSNBC hosts, co-hosts and compensated pundits. Every discussion of politics, news events, President Obama, voter registration, immigration, civic affairs—whatever—inevitably seems to turn to “race” as a backstop or the trigger for a racial or personal attack or insinuation of racism or other bad motive on the part of people who disagree with MSNBC hosts, co-hosts, and compensated pundits. The Ed Schultz comment about Laura Ingraham as a “right-wing slut” rightfully evoked outrage and rebuke from MSNBC management. There are so many examples of MSNBC personalities shouting and insinuating racism where none exists, too. I need not give you line and verse but, suffice it to say, it was surprising, and ignorant—at least to us—for MSNBC hosts to accuse public figures of racism when these figures used the word “Chicago” or “golf” in their discussions or criticism of President Obama. That’s exactly what more than one MSNBC host did. And we have watched and listened, and cringed, whenever pundits –as is their wont—piped in with their sorrowful wails about others’ prejudice—quipping, as did one regular MSNBC pundit did, in explaining why some people kept talking about President Obama’s Chicago roots—“Well, there’s a lot of black people in Chicago.”

MSNBC hosts and on-air personalities were fast and furious with their insinuations and accusations of others’ racism during the 2012 Presidential race. Maybe you read my Huffington Post column, “Racial Politics and the Non-White Vassals of White Politicians,” (2/10/12). There, I recounted how some MSNBC personalities race-baited, this way:

“When it comes to racial paranoia MSNBC is in a bizarre world of its own. Andrea Mitchell, among others, decried Newt Gingrich’s racial overtones as ‘dog whistles’ aimed at white voters. Chris Matthews [accused] The Newt of the racially-charged use of ‘Juan’ when Gingrich answered a question from journalist Juan Williams during the South Carolinian debate. And MSNBC star host Rachel Maddow inveighed that Gingrich, when he chastised Obama as ‘Entertainer-in Chief’—for Obama’s having crooned at the Apollo Theater—was depicting Obama as a minstrel.”

The depiction and imagery of President Obama as a “minstrel” during the last Presidential campaign was not only MSNBC’s contention, it was MSNBC’s invention. Likewise, the depiction of Dr. Benjamin Carson—who Toure calls “Dr. Ben [sic] Carson—as some kind of toady for conservative whites is the latest affront to a man’s dignity because his skin color does not coincide with MSNBC personalities’ prejudgments and definition of what is an authentic black man. At MSNBC, invoking race as a dictum is a demeaning, mean-spirited attempt to besmirch the bona fides of people who disagree with your hosts, co-hosts and compensated pundits. This base and scurrilous brand of race-baiting is especially contemptible because it is sheer bullying; it is an example of a craven antic by your hosts, co-hosts and compensated pundits to shame blacks who disagree with them, and to stereotype blacks as “blacks.” No African American, according to such racialist thinking, is ever to be regarded as an individual; African Americans, according to such thinking—they who disagree with the blacker-than-thou crowd—are pilloried as “friends” of white conservatives, of white racists, as “traitors” to the race, and as not being authentically “black.” And the hosts, co-hosts and compensated pundits at MSNBC get to define who is—and who isn’t “black.”

In his own defense, Dr. Carson named that game for what it is—and decried the calumny for what it represents; it is something on the level of third-grade racial idiocy. But, Dr. Carson was much too kind and diplomatic in dismissing as merely juvenile the rants of MSNBC’s Toure. The racial rhetoric, mockery and race games that Toure and other MSNBC hosts, co-hosts and compensated pundits play are too serious to go undiagnosed as the sickness that they represent. In our considered judgment, MSNBC has a race problem; the network is obsessed with skin color and identity politics

MSNBC has turned over its microphones to people who peddle racial poison in the guise of opinion—when, in fact, their opinion is neither informed nor guided by rationality. The kind of venom that MSNBC condones and sells in the form of racial rhetoric and errant charges of racism –directed at people, black and white (and any other skin color) who disagree with your personalities’ political bent—is reprehensibly ignorant. The network seems to shun if not loathe blacks who don’t see race as the center of the universe. African Americans who are merely liberal and those who are— to use Ed Schultz’ term—“right-wing,” are written off as kooks, Uncle Toms, Tomasinas, and as traitors to the black community and to the so-called black race. (Of course there are exceptions to the rule; I know that MSNBC has hired as a pundit the GOPer Michael Steele, for example). This blacker-than-thou mentality is destructive and unbecoming of a major television network. The role of a television news network, normally, paraphrasing my mentor, Dr. Kenneth B. Clark, the social psychologist and civil rights activist, is to alert an indifferent or gullible public and for protecting that public from the pretensions of infallibility. Dr. Clark believed, and I concur, that this can be done “within the framework of due regard to freedom of inquiry and respect for the right of individuals [without regard to their skin color] to differ, and certainly with unqualified adherence to fundamental human and democratic processes. But there must be vigilance; intellectual vigilance is essential to the expansion and preservation of human dignity.”

The haranguing of blacks as “Uncle Toms” or of whites as “racists” because they disagree with the incumbent President, because the incumbent President is an African American—or calling opponents of Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts “anti-Semitic”, on the basis that Mayor Bloomberg is Jewish—breeds fanaticism on matters of race, ethnicity and religion.

The penchant for calling attention to one’s race, or religion, or ethnicity as the reason he or she is being opposed is morally bankrupt. Such race-baiting, as well as false charges of anti-Semitism, is sick, regressive, and tyrannical. It is anti-intellectual in character. Its main focus and purpose is the stirring of emotionalism rather than thought. And, that is why I asked Comcast/MSNBC executives to demand of Mike Barnicle and Al Sharpton some evidence for their claims that there is “a level of anti-Semitism” directed at Mayor Bloomberg supposedly from people opposed to his gun control advertising campaign.

What support is there for such emotionalism on their part?

Race isn’t what it used to be in America. There has been much progress in curbing and combating racial discrimination—and more progress and vigilance are always needed. But we cannot deny that considerable racial progress—or contradict it–by suggestions that any criticism of or opposition to the first African American President is due to racism—when that criticism or opposition is earnest and not at all race-based or a manifestation of skin-color prejudice or malice. I am baffled as to what MSNBC’s aims are when it comes to race talk. It seems that there is on the part of so many of your on-air personalities a perennial search for the answer to the old and ludicrous question, “Who speaks for the African American”? (I remember when the question was “Who speaks for the Negro’?). If that is the search, then let the search end now. Let individuals speak for themselves, whatever their skin color. This “take me to your leader” nonsense is just that; it has to stop being propagated by well-intentioned but profoundly racialist thinking and anti-intellectual behavior countenanced and fostered by the people who are entrusted with our nation’s airwaves and who own and operate broadcast networks.

People who are accomplished, who know stuff, who are academics, physicians, elected officials and civic leaders, who are renowned in their own right as neurosurgeons, and who are brilliant and engaging thinkers and activists, do not need to be racialized or otherwise categorized or marginalized into racial or ethnic camps and stereotypes. Likewise, it seems only sensible that executives at MSNBC will not want to ignore and should not countenance false claims of either racism or anti-Semitism, feelings that seemingly exist only in the fertile imaginations of the compensated talkers on your network.

I am always available to speak with you; I would suggest a face-to-face.

With best wishes to you for the happiest of holidays, and always, I am

Sincerely yours,

 
Michael Meyers
Executive Director

Cc: Brian l. Roberts, Chairman, Comcast Corporation

Patricia Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBC Universal News Group

Phil Griffin, President, MSNBC

FULL TEXT: OUR OPEN LETTER TO THE BRASS AT MSNBC/COMCAST REGARDING THE RACE-BAITING OF THE NETWORK’S COMPENSATED-PUNDITS

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

March 26, 2013…

In an open letter to MSNBC TV executives, including to its owner’s Comcast Corporation we have complained of race-baiting antics of its compensated-pundits. NYCRC Executive Director Michael Meyers addressed his letter, dated and e-mailed yesterday, to Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts, NBC Universal Chairman Patricia Fili-Krushel, and MSNBC President Phil Griffin. In the letter we take sharp exception to the “reckless” accusation from MSNBC contributors Mike Barnicle and Al Sharpton [on yesterday morning's Morning Joe TV show] that there is a “level” of “anti-Semitism” to the criticism directed at New York’s Mayor Bloomberg over his funding of a gun control legislation advertising campaign. Meyers told the MSNBC/Comcast brass, “Enough is enough”, and urged the MSNBC bosses–whom he referred to in his letter as the “grownups”–to require the pundits to show evidence to back up their “reckless, tasteless, reprehensible, irresponsible, despicable, deplorable, and outrageous” smear that accused critics of Bloomberg’s policies and funding effort of harboring anti-Semitic feelings.

The letter reads, in part:

“Neither Mike Barnicle nor Al Sharpton offered any evidence for their accusation of anti-Semitic feelings toward Mayor Bloombergfrom any quarter—only their own opinions that there are in their view a “level” of anti-Semitic feelings toward Mayor Bloomberg, the Mayor of a big liberal city.  As such, Messieurs Barnicle and Sharpton cheapened the nature of anti-Semitism just as they and otherMSNBC pundits have denuded the power of the allegation of “racism” inasmuch as they have made the accusation of racism a kind of sport in their commentary especially toward critics of President Obama’s policies. Is there no end in sight for such irresponsible compensated-opinion and reckless conjecturing from MSNBC pundits? Will the grownups at MSNBC—and at Comcast—ever step up and say “Enough is enough” to the smearing of critics of President Obama as anti-black and, now, MSNBC pundits depicting critics of New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg as “anti-Semitic”?  

 

“The constant charges of racism and, today, MSNBC pundits invoking the specter of anti-Semitism to bolster their side of the argument on social issues and public policy debates—in ways to discredit and intimidate the opposition to their sheer rhetoric—is so reckless, tasteless, reprehensible, irresponsible, despicable, deplorable, and outrageous that it warrants not only refutation but disapproval from the top management at MSNBC and Comcast.”

The text of Meyers’ letter follows:

 

 

March 25, 2013

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman & CEO
COMCAST CORPORATE OFFICE
1500 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Patricia Fili-Krushel, Chairman
NBC Universal News group
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112

Phil Griffin, President
MSNBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, New York 10112

Dear Messieurs Roberts and Griffin, and Ms. Fili-Krushel:

This morning’s discussion on Morning Joe regarding Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership and funding of a gun control advertising campaign took, even for MSNBC pundits, a new low—when MSNBC-compensated contributors Mike Barnicle and Al Sharpton hurled at critics of Mayor Bloomberg the scurrilous and baseless slur of anti-Semitism.

Neither Mike Barnicle nor Al Sharpton offered any evidence for their accusation of anti-Semitic feelings toward Mayor Bloomberg from any quarter—only their own opinions that there are in their view a “level” of anti-Semitic feelings toward Mayor Bloomberg, the Mayor of a big liberal city.  As such, Messieurs Barnicle and Sharpton cheapened the nature of anti-Semitism just as they and other MSNBC pundits have denuded the power of the allegation of “racism” inasmuch as they have made the accusation of racism a kind of sport in their commentary especially toward critics of President Obama’s policies. Is there no end in sight for such irresponsible compensated-opinion and reckless conjecturing from MSNBC pundits? Will the grownups at MSNBC—and at Comcast—ever step up and say “Enough is enough” to the smearing of critics of President Obama as anti-black and, now, MSNBC pundits depicting critics of New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg as “anti-Semitic”?

The constant charges of racism and, today, MSNBC pundits invoking the specter of anti-Semitism to bolster their side of the argument on social issues and public policy debates—in ways to discredit and intimidate the opposition to their sheer rhetoric—is so reckless, tasteless, reprehensible, irresponsible, despicable, deplorable, and outrageous that it warrants not only refutation but disapproval from the top management at MSNBC andComcast. We call upon you to demand of your two pundits evidence for this latest scurrilous accusation of anti-Semitism which they directed at people who disagree with Mayor Bloomberg on the matter of gun control legislation—or else remind the pundits that reckless, baseless conjecture from them about people’s motives, when such base motives are neither self-evident nor supported by even a scintilla of evidence—are not to be countenanced by NBC/MSNBC management and Comcast.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.

With best wishes,

Sincerely yours,

Michael Meyers
Executive Director

What Can We Expect From The Next Mayor of NYC?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

 

At a forum last night (March 19th) at Brooklyn’s St. Francis College, our executive director joined fellow panelists John Avlon of CNN, Michael Powell, columnist for the New York Times, Maggie Haberman, writer for Politico, and Harry Siegel, an editor at the Daily Beast, for a discussion on the topic, “WHO SHOULD BE THE NEXT MAYOR OF NEW YORK?” It was a candid discussion on a wide open race inasmuch as Mayor Bloomberg is term-limited and cannot run for a fourth term.

Michael Meyers’ prepared opening remarks for the forum follow.

 

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE NEXT MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY? 

Remarks by Michael Meyers, Executive Director, New York Civil Rights Coalition

March 19, 2013

 

We can finally look beyond Bloomberg because of Terms Limits….and we shall remember Bloomberg because of his end-run around the voters’ two-successive terms are enough referenda. This will be the case in spite of the electorate’s notorious short-term memory. For instance, who remembers much less talks about the scandals associated with the City Council’s and Speaker Quinn’s funding of phantom organizations—something attorney Norman Siegel attempted to get to the bottom of but was thwarted by the Feds—who insisted they were probing the matter but never concluded or reported out findings.

 

The recent and current headlines seem to be written against Controller Liu and they emphasize the allegations of wrongdoing of his fund raising operatives—even though Liu himself has not been charged with any crimes. The ink and photo spreads of Christine Quinn have on the other hand been remarkable and geared in favor of her firsts—as the first lesbian Speaker of the City Council, first woman, etc. The media while focused on identity politics-in the form of “firsts” are not attentive to follow up by way of measuring kept or broken promises, or competence by way of follow through with the promises of the politicians. Virtually every weekend we have a press conference from Charles Schumer—this past Sunday it was about a bill of rights for passengers on cruise ships. Has any journalist done a study of the legislation introduced by Schumer and tracked what he has accomplished since his press availabilities and announcements?

 

Polling has already begun….well in advance of a complete field of candidates for Mayor, perhaps. polls o early on are not very reliable. Bur media love polls. We were treated to the news tidbit that former Congressman Weiner spent a boatload of $$ to determine whether he can reenter politics, to test the public’s short term memory.

 

I say all this because I think accountability will be the measure of the next Mayor of New York—when the media barons will not be so enamored with a mayor who is not one of their own, or who did not self-finance his mayoral campaign. The current Mayor was given great leeway; his minions were allowed to call on charities and civic groups that were recipients of the Bloomberg fortune to get them to support the City Council overturning the Term Limits Law. I will long remember one of the now announced candidates for Mayor—whose group received governmental and Bloomberg funding—standing up at a civic meeting and when Bloomberg’s name was mentioned, the now announced candidate for Mayor shouted, “Bloomberg forever!” And I shall remember the incongruity to my eyes of one of Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy mayors also heading up his philanthropic foundation without a whimper from many governmental and non-governmental watchdogs.

 

If we are to have and exact accountability from the next mayor we will have to do better by way of examining the record of their promises—those kept and broken, and tracking as well the next mayor’s appointees to boards and commissions like the Ethics Board and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The next Mayor will have to do better by way of police accountability, too—the police will need to protect and serve and keep our city safe and at the same time respect and uphold civil rights. Police-Race Relations have not been good under Bloomberg—although they were admittedly worse under Giuliani. Police-Community Relations remains bad because of stop, frisk and question—and because of a moribund, ineffective Civilian Complaint Review Board—a Mayoral puppet agency.  For the duration of the Bloomberg Administration, the CCRB has been chaired and led by ciphers. Who here can name the current Chair of the CCRB? Who here can name the current or past three executive directors of the CCRB? Such names should be on the tongues of every informed citizen—and known to every journalist.

 

Given the tensions and pitiable record of civil rights infractions of stop, frisk and question, many New Yorkers will be looking for a new Police Commissioner. Any Mayoral candidate who has already signaled an intention to reappoint Ray Kelly will be risking alienation from the minority community—especially if young minorities go out to vote and urge their elders to vote their way. Police Commissioner Kelly’s going to black churches to speak is PR gimmickry. He won’t find there the young black and Hispanic males he needs to listen to, as he reflexively and routinely defends NYPD’s stop and frisk practices, and widespread police surveillance of Muslims groups and mosques.

Here, too, the media have been suckers for Bloomberg and governmental prattle. The Daily News just the other day decried a single federal judge being the arbiter of the constitutionality of NYPD’s stop and frisk practices. As Ira Glasser, former ED of the ACLU pointed out in his response to the Daily News editorial, posted yesterday on-line, that’s what single federal judges do—they preside at federal trials, and rule on law and evidence all the time. Glasser’s response also rebutted and destroyed the Daily News’ defense of stop and frisk: Glasser wrote:

In 2011, according to the NYPD’s own reports, there were 685,724 stops …[Out of these] 819 guns were recovered, a success rate of less than one-tenth of one percent. This woeful success rate has been about the same over the past 5 years. In 2012, there were 533,042 stops, and 780 guns recovered as a result, a success rate of .146%. Police say…that the reason why upwards of 85-88% of these stops are of young blacks and Latinos, mostly male, is because ‘the police go where the guns are,’ as one member of the City Council recently asserted.  But, in fact, in stopping and frisking these targeted youth, the police are going where the guns AREN’T. They’re not finding more than a negligible number; either they are targeting minority youth as the critics claim, or they are spectacularly incompetent.”

 

The next mayor will especially have to be better evaluated by way of success or failure of the schools since our public schools are under mayoral control. The next mayor must choose a Schools Chancellor whom educators and students and parents and the citizenry at large can respect—who isn’t a crony, who doesn’t need a waiver of the statutory qualifications for School Superintendent of the State’s largest and most diverse school district.  Also, there must be an EEO search for the next Schools Chancellor rather than an insular, “let’s have breakfast” meeting at which the Mayor picks the man or woman he knows. The next schools Chancellor should know about curriculum, class size, teacher evaluation and supervision, and how to get principals to evaluate teachers with other than pass or fail—mostly “satisfactory” even for the ineffective and the burned out teachers in the worst schools.

 

The next mayor must insist on a streamlined teachers’ contract, with accountability measurements or else be prepared to take and punish severely any strike by the teachers union. If the Mayor is going to be the boss of the schools, the next Mayor must show the staff who’s boss, and know how and whether to test children to the curriculum. Every teacher and every child should be asking what Ed Koch used to ask of us: “How am I doing?” …And every teacher and every pupil should be prepared for honest and reliable answers.

 

The same accountability must be applied to our higher education authorities and to other boards to which the next Mayor makes appointments. Board members must be chosen on the basis of intelligence, their own success, guts, and willingness to buck the system and to buck the man or woman who appoints them to the board. That is what is needed if we’re finally going to have trustees of the CUNY who hold themselves individually and collectively accountable for understanding and fulfilling the mission of their public trust. Their resolve must be to keep faith with the mission of the public university, to believe in and insist on high standards, on equity, on access, affordability, and diversity. Those principles—standards, achievement, access, and equity—should not be at war with each other; what the trustees should be doing is declaring war on paternalism and on differential standards for minority students.

 

The next Mayor should insist on moving away from racially-identifiable colleges and racially-isolated and single-sex schools, too, and reject “root and branch” racial chauvinism and paternalism as the modus operandi for either appeasing or serving minority populations. In this regard, the next Mayor should stop whispering and making public announcements about “at risk” young black and Hispanic males; the next Mayor should put an end to such inventions as the “Black Male Initiative”—and stop government from stereotyping and depicting blacks as a group different from other so-called “races.” There is no such thing as “the black male” just like there never was such as a thing as “the Negro;” these are discoveries of sick, race-obsessed academics, knee-jerking government bureaucrats, and scarety-kat, obliging pols.

 

If students need and want mentoring, counseling, guidance, job training, such services and all such help must be available to all students, without regard to their skin color or their gender. In other words, we need a Mayor who is not the least bit paternalistic. That is a tall order nowadays.

 

FINALLY, the next Mayor needs to declare war on patronage and declare war on the political bosses—those who prop up and allow for an inept Board of Elections, for example. Accountability has to be the order of the day—and an identification with the beleaguered New Yorker who finds it impossible to pay for housing, to meet rising fares on the subway and buses, who have been gentrified out of Manhattan and out of their non-Manhattan neighborhoods, and be the voice and leader into a better future for the young people who come to this city unable to find work, unable to enroll in quality schools, and at the higher education level unable to even afford dormitory housing. Who will speak for and represent these low-income and middle-class New Yorkers, the unemployed, the underemplyed, and the employed who find living in New York is above their means?

PRESS REPORTS: Feds “OK” Special Ed Programs for Black Students in College

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, December 10, 2012

Education Dept. Clears Minority Programs of Discrimination at Colleges in 3

States

By Peter Schmidt

Washington

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has scrapped long-running investigations of programs for minority students at colleges in Missouri, New York, and North Carolina, based mainly on its determinations that the programs either have ended race-based participation criteria or consider race narrowly enough to comply with federal antidiscrimination laws.

In letters released to The Chronicle last week, the civil-rights office said it was closing its investigation of several programs focused on black males at the City University of New York, and a separate program that had been geared toward minority students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, because the office had concluded that students of any race were eligible to participate.

The civil-rights office told the University of Missouri at Columbia it was closing an investigation of several financial-aid programs there based on its conclusion that the programs’ consideration of race was narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest that would not be sufficiently advanced by race-neutral eligibility criteria. The office said the university’s consideration of race in awarding financial aid “does not create an unduly severe or intrusive burden for students not eligible for such scholarships.”

Roger B. Clegg, who as president of the Center for Equal Opportunity filed the 2005 complaint that led to the Missouri investigation, said in an e-mail on Friday that his advocacy group was contesting the civil-rights office’s findings in that case and laying the groundwork to challenge the university’s programs in federal court if the office did not reverse itself.

Noting that the office’s letter of determination in that case hardly suggested that all such programs would withstand legal scrutiny—and that the Supreme Court appears poised to offer additional guidance on colleges’ use of race-conscious policies in a case involving admissions to the University of Texas at Austin—Mr. Clegg said, “we hope and expect that other schools will not conclude that they may close the doors to their programs in this way.”

Michael Meyers, who as executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition filed the 2006 discrimination complaint that led to the CUNY investigation, similarly said he planned to challenge the civil-rights office’s findings, which he called “a disingenuous and very shaky ruling.”

Delayed Responses

The federal office’s decision on Missouri, especially, represents a setback for critics of race-conscious higher-education policies, who during the administration of President George W. Bush persuaded many colleges to open up minority scholarships and programs to members of any race to avoid legal trouble.

The office, known as OCR, under President Bush did not actually find any colleges guilty of discrimination for operating race-exclusive programs—the Missouri, New York, and North Carolina investigations were among several involving minority programs that it began and left unresolved. But it had sent numerous signals that race-exclusive programs would not pass legal muster, declaring in a 2003 statement that “programs that use race or national origin as sole eligibility criteria are extremely difficult to defend.” The Justice Department under President Bush also got involved, pressuring Southern Illinois University to alter fellowship programs that had been reserved for women or members of minority groups.

The OCR’s investigations of the complaints similarly lingered unresolved for several years under the Obama administration. The agency finally mailed its determination letter to CUNY on November 23, and its letters to Missouri and Greensboro on November 26, but it did not otherwise announce its specific findingsIt referred to them only vaguely, without naming the institutions involved, in aCongressionally mandated report on its activities over the past four years that it released on November 28, just days before Russlynn H. Ali, the Obama appointee who had headed the office since May 2009, announced she was stepping down. The Chronicle obtained the letters from the Education Department after requesting details of actions referenced in the report.

Mr. Meyers, of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, said last week that he had not been notified by the OCR of its findings regarding his complaint about CUNY. Mr. Meyers, whose organization describes itself as committed to racial integration, characterized the office’s findings, and its failure to inform him of them, as evidence that it is “engaged in an exercise of Orwellian double talk and double standards of civil-rights law enforcement.”

Dollars for Diversity

Mr. Clegg’s complaint against the University of Missouri at Columbia had accused it of operating a range of racially exclusive financial-aid programs in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In its letter reporting its findings last month to Brady J. Deaton, chancellor of the University of Missouri, the civil-rights office said its investigation of the university had identified 34 scholarship programs that considered race or national origin as a condition for eligibility, and 18 more that considered students’ race or ethnicity as “a plus factor” in determining who received aid awards.

The letter said no scholarship had been awarded solely based on race or national origin “because other factors also are considered such as academic performance, demonstrated personal integrity, socioeconomic disadvantage, and involvement in the candidate’s school or community.” It added that the university evaluates each applicant for aid on an individual basis, in keeping with guidance handed down by the Supreme Court in its 2003 rulings in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, involving race-conscious admissions policies then in place at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Being a member of a minority group that is underrepresented on the campus, the letter said, “is not a guarantor of aid, nor is it the paramount factor affecting aid opportunities at the university.” In the 2009-10 academic year, it said, scholarships tied to race went to no more than 42 percent of such minority students.

The letter said the office’s investigators had accepted, as consistent with its own guidance to colleges, the university’s argument that race-conscious scholarship programs should be considered in the context of all financial aid awarded by the university, to make clear that being ineligible for a particular race-conscious scholarship does not preclude a student from receiving other scholarship funds. It also said the university had offered assurances that it was periodically reviewing the necessity of linking financial aid to race to achieve a diverse student body, and had shown that its past history of racial segregation, its location 120 miles away from the nearest urban center, and perceptions of an unwelcoming environment for minority students on the campus had hindered it from enrolling such students without offering scholarships tied to race or ethnicity.

The letter said the office also had accepted the university’s argument that, were the university precluded from considering race in awarding scholarships, such funds would probably be plowed into programs that aim to attract and retain minority students but do so much less efficiently and effectively. The OCR also said it had accepted the university’s assertions that converting the scholarships for which only minority students are eligible into scholarships that merely consider race or ethnicity as a factor would result in smaller aid awards to minority students, leading fewer to enroll.

Michael A. Middleton, the university’s deputy chancellor, on Friday issued a statement in which he said, “We’re very pleased with the ruling from the OCR. Diversity is important on our campus as we prepare our students for the global marketplace.”

In his e-mailed statement, Mr. Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity said the OCR letter to Missouri “should hardly be read as encouraging racially exclusive programs,” especially considering that the investigation lasted more than seven years and the letter spelled out “a variety of hoops that the university had to jump through” to show its programs could withstand strict scrutiny. He rejected several of the office’s key conclusions.

“We continue to believe that racially exclusive programs cannot survive the Supreme Court’s stated requirement in Grutter and Gratz that any use of race must also involve ‘individualized consideration,’” he said. The argument that students whose race precludes them from applying for a minority scholarship can always apply for some other award, he said, “smacks of ‘separate but equal,’ ignores the fact that each scholarship is different in terms of, for example, resources and prestige,” and otherwise does not hold up “since the court has long rejected similar set-asides in admissions.”

Questions of Separation

The OCR investigation of the City University of New York involved a total of 18 cases. One examined whether the CUNY system’s Black Male Initiative, established in 2005, violated both Title VI and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination at institutions that receive federal funds. A second case examined whether the CUNY system and its campuses were discriminating based on race or sex in selecting faculty and staff to carry out the effort. The other cases examined each of the 16 campuses where programs focused on black males had been set up.

In its letter last month to Matthew Goldstein, chancellor of CUNY, the office said it was closing all 18 cases as moot based on CUNY’s assurances in its promotional materials and discussions with the OCR that “all programs and activities of the Black Male Initiative are open to all academically eligible students, faculty, and staff, without regard to race, gender, national origin, or other characteristic.”

The letter acknowledged that the availability of such programs to all was not widely publicized when the CUNY system and its campuses began the effort, and that Queensborough Community College initially recruited only black males for participation in its program. But, the letter said, CUNY later altered its promotional materials, and Queensborough its promotional materials and recruiting practices, to make clear that any student could participate.

In response to the allegation that the CUNY effort had led to employment discrimination, the OCR letter said the question of whether there was race-based employment discrimination fell outside its jurisdiction under Title VI. Noting that 38 women held leadership positions associated with Black Male Initiative programs, it said it had found no evidence of sex discrimination in employment in violation of Title IX.

Jay Hershenson, a spokesman for the CUNY system, on Friday issued a written statement that said CUNY “is very pleased” with the OCR’s finding. The Black Male Initiative, his statement said, “was not created to promote race-exclusive programs but instead to help black males and others compete more effectively in higher education through mentoring, internships, and other support services.”

Mr. Meyers, of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, offered a much different take, arguing in e-mails that the OCR’s letter to Mr. Goldstein represented “the government sanctioning separate but equal on the pretext that the segregation—by race and sex—is a supposed ‘benefit’ to ‘African-American males.’” He argued that the Black Male Initiative had been exclusively for black males “on its face” and in every way it has been organized, advertised, and administered, sending messages to everyone else “that they need not apply.”

“This,” Mr. Meyers said, “is an appalling betrayal of the public policy and our federal laws that seek to end segregation and discrimination based on skin color and—in this case—discrimination based on the groups’ skin color and sex.”

Especially compared with its other recent decisions, the OCR’s resolution of the Greensboro case was more in keeping with how it had resolved such complaints under President Bush. In its letter to Linda Brady, the campus’s chancellor, the office said it was closing its investigation of the campus’s Scholars Recognition Program, which honors high-achieving students through an award ceremony rather than money, because the campus had voluntarily abandoned race as a criterion for eligibility, focusing instead on other indicators of potential disadvantage. The person who filed the complaint has never been publicly identified.

U.S. EDUCATION SECRETARY ACCUSED OF COMPLICITY WITH “IDENTITY POLITICS”; FAULTED FOR “PATERNALISTIC” AND “UNPRINCIPLED” CIVIL RIGHTS LAW ENFORCEMENT

Monday, August 20th, 2012

 

In a strongly worded letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, sent first-class and via e-mail,  the New York Civil Rights Coalition’s executive director, Michael Meyers, accuses Secretary Duncan of complicity with “identity politics” and of aiding President Obama’s retreat into racial separatism by means of establishing a “black desk” and “black doors” at the U.S. Department of Education.

Meyers told Secretary Duncan that separate standards for investigating and judging minority-centric programs is a death knell to equal enforcement of the civil rights laws and constitutes a “functional repeal of the Brown v. Board of Education mandate” for the government to foster equal treatment before the law. His August 16th letter to Secretary Arne Duncan was copied to Assistant Secretary of Education Russlynn Ali, who heads the federal Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Meyers’ letter accuses Duncan of going back on his March 2010 promise to “reinvigorate civil rights enforcement.” But rather than vigorously enforcing civil rights laws, Meyers’ letter blames the OCR for winking at “minority-centric”, race-based programs that “stereotype and oftentimes segregate non-whites,” and which, he added, “discriminates against whites.”  The letter cites several examples of the Department of Education’s complicity with a “functional repeal” of Brown v. Board of Education’s focus on integration and equal treatment of individuals before the law without regard to their race. Meyers’ letter also charges that OCR’s Title VI (race discrimination) and Title IX (sex discrimination) enforcement against recipients of federal funding has been riddled with exceptions and “paternalism.”  The examples he cited of “race and gender-specific” programming overlooked or coddled by OCR include:

* The City University of New York’s (CUNY) “Black Male Initiative” [similar collegiate programs are underway nationwide] that singles out Black and Hispanic males for “special” programs and separate treatment—including separate classes for black males;

* New York City’s “Young Male Initiative” which is “for black and Hispanic males only”, and which excludes from its benefits whites, Asians and women of all colors and ethnicity;

* The establishment of a “black desk” at the Department of Education pursuant to President Obama’s White House Initiative and Executive Order on “Educational Excellence for African Americans”; that initiative, according to President Obama, is intended to “complement” the U.S. Education Department’s efforts to enhance historically black colleges and universities. Meyers calls that “enhancement” and the “black desk” approach “racial separatism,” and he criticizes “separate and unequal standards and approaches” for educating African American students.

On the “separatist approach” for educating black students, Meyers’ letter schools Secretary Duncan:

“When this ethnic separatism is reinforced or done at the behest and with the blessing of governmental officials—we are witnessing the functional repeal of the Brown v. Board of Education mandate for the desegregation of our public schools. The President and you are moving in tandem,…toward fostering racial identity, reinforcing racial separatism, and pursuing a separate and unequal enforcement of our civil rights laws. Having separate desks or separate doors at [the Department of Education] for Blacks—and for Asians—and for Hispanics—is a deliberate course toward ethnic polarization and for making insupportable and toxic racial and ethnic distinctions and classifications in educational policy and programming.”

Michael Meyers’ open letter to Secretary Duncan also accuses OCR of “stalling” and of defeating principled and even-handed Title VI (race) and Title IX (sex) enforcement by caving in to pressures from elected officials and influential forces that support race-specific and single-sex programming. In this connection, he recounted to Secretary Duncan how the New York Civil Rights Coalition took to OCR in the year 1996 a formal complaint against the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in East Harlem—the first single-sex public school in New York City since the enactment of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. That complaint has languished at OCR for 16 years; “it was never decided by OCR.” Subsequently, in 2006, the New York Civil Rights Coalition complained to OCR about the City University of New York’s “Black Male Initiative”which allowed for separate treatment and differential programs and classes for black male students.

“OCR did not take any action on that urgent complaint…Some 6 years later, OCR has still not decided the complaint,” Meyers told Secretary Duncan.

On the City of New York’s “Young Men’s Initiative”, Meyers took sharp exception to OCR’s unwillingness to pick up the phone to itself query about a government-funded program that on its face appears racially and gender discriminatory. New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative according to the city’s officials, including Mayor Bloomberg, singles out black and Hispanic young males as “at risk” and therefore deserving of special governmental efforts. Meyers’ complaint disputes that such race and gender-based classifications are legal—and that the City of New York’s announcement and public information campaigns should have triggered an automatic inquiry and review by the U.S. Department of Education’s OCR which monitors and is supposed to combat discrimination against people on account of race and sex by the recipients—such as New York City—of federal funding.

Meyers in his August 16 letter to Secretary Duncan and in a previous letter to federal Justice department and OCR officials says that the City of New York’s “Young Men’s Initiative” was established without a scintilla of the kind of foundation and narrow tailoring that the city needs to establish a genuine affirmative action program—and that outright exclusion of people from participation and enjoyment of governmental benefits and programs based on skin color and gender is discriminationnot “affirmative action.”

Blasting OCR’s disinterest in his complaint about the Young Men’s Initiative for black and Hispanic males only, Meyers accuses the officials at the Education Department of “playing favorites”, and his letter to Secretary Duncan says:

“Neither the U.S. Justice Department nor [DOE’s] Office for Civil Rights is at all interested in probing this race-based and gender-specific discrimination.”

His letter continued:

“…It is not possible for there to be confidence in the rule of law among the citizenry in the circumstances when government plays favorites, based on race or political correctness or when it acts paternalistically and under the conditions of forever shifting, unprincipled administrative decision making at OCR.”

Meyers asked Secretary Duncan for a response to the delay of 16 years on the part of OCR to decide the group’s complaint against the Young Women’s Leadership Academy and of OCR’s inordinate delay—of six years—to complete its investigation into the “Black Male Initiative” at the City University of New York, and for the reasons OCR won’t act on its own to probe the City of New York’s discriminatory “Young Men’s Initiative.”

PROBE: Is NYC Public School Favoring Asians Over Blacks and Hispanics?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The Shuang Wen Academy, located in Manhattan’s District 1 in the Lower East Side, has been in turmoil since 2010, when controversy arose over after-school tuition fees and more. Of special interest to us were allegations of violations in its school lottery procedures, which favored Asian children over those residing in the school’s home district, the overwhelming majority of whom are black and Hispanic. Despite the demographics of District 1, the Shuang Wen Academy’s student body is 80% Asian.

The Department of Education has launched dozens of investigations into various aspects of the school’s administration, and while many of these investigations have concluded with damning evidence of dishonest administration practices, the DOE has yet to release any findings regarding allegations of racial discrimination against the black and Hispanic children living in District 1.

We wrote to schools Chancellor Joel Klein and his successor Cathy Black, inquiring about the status of the ongoing probes into the Shuang Wen Academy – without response. Read our latest inquiry appended below:

 

June 28, 2012

Dear Chancellor Walcott:

I write to you concerning the allegations that officials of the Shuang Wen Academy--a self-styled “dual language” public school–manipulated admissions practices and violated Department of Education/Districting and lottery policies so as to favor Chinese students and to discriminate against black and Hispanic children. It is our understanding that black and Hispanic children constitute the overwhelming majority of school children in District 1. Yet Shuang Wen Academy’s student body has been 80% Asian. About this complaint, I wrote to Chancellor Joel Klein, who then left office, and then, on January 12, 2011 to his successor, Cathie Black (see below), asking Chancellor Black to apprise us once the probes were completed and a report available on these very serious allegations of discriminatory admissions. Perhaps because of the brief tenure of Chancellor Black and the transition from Ms. Black to you our request fell through the cracks. So, I now renew our request with you that we be apprised of the results of the Department’s investigation into this school’s admission practices.

By following news reports I know of the Special Commissioner of Schools Investigations’ conclusion that the former principal of the school reportedly engaged in “deep dishonest behavior” which resulted in your taking steps to dismiss her as a DOE employee. But we have not seen or received any report–we know there were many investigations underway, some 16 different probes to be exact–as to the charges of  discriminatory admissions practices that supposedly favored Chinese students over black and Hispanic students.What is the status of the DOE’s probe into this allegation? When might we expect the probe to be completed and its results released to the public?

I would appreciate your immediate attention to this inquiry and a prompt acknowledgement and response, sent to this e-mail address or to our mailing address (below).

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Meyers, Executive Director
NEW YORK CIVIL RIGHTS COALITION
424 West 33rd Street
Suite 350
New York, New York 10001
Tel. 212-563-5636
E-Mail: MMeyers@nycivilrights.org

NY Mayor Bloomberg’s Discriminatory Public – Private Initiative on Black Males.

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Originally published in the Huffington Post.

By Michael Meyers

I do not like the mayor’s announced “Young Men’s Initiative” — a $127-million “public-private partnership” that throws big bucks at rescuing black and Latino males, they who are disproportionately in lockup in the state’s prisons, dropouts from its schools, and unemployable because of their felony convictions, indolence or lack of a high school diploma, according to Bloomberg and his billionaire enabler George Soros.

How can anyone be “against” helping the disadvantaged and the lowest among the blacks and Hispanics — those very young men who disgrace themselves and who — disproportionate to other ethnic groups — father children out of wedlock? Simple: I loathe stereotypes and I don’t like the race and sex cast of the Initiative; it skews the complexity of the social problems that have a disparate impact on minorities of both sexes.

In these hard times especially, when our nation is gripped by unemployment nearing depression levels, in which Americans of every ethnicity are poorer, disadvantaged by homelessness and joblessness — including many veterans of the armed forces — this is the wrong lens and approach for the nation’s focus and attention. (One could argue that veterans — and their families — because of their extraordinary sacrifice, “time out” of and disadvantages in the job market, more deserve affirmative governmental programs and special assistance at job placement over the lowlifes of their so-called race. Our vets do not, for instance, need moral instruction or lecturing in the guise of mentoring. They, of all colors, need jobs, and housing, and higher education).

Mayor Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative underplays this dire nationwide economic distress which has so many minorities unemployed, and underemployed and ensnared in poverty — including minority women and young girls who aren’t eligible for the Young Men’s Initiative’s paid internships, job training, and mentoring. No doubt, minorities are disproportionately in lockup — but that is, in part, because of the vestiges of racial discrimination in the form of outmoded law enforcement policies that punish victimless drug offenses — the kind that has always provided an underground job industry to the underclass and undereducated. In actuality, however, there is no color of crime — except Mayor Bloomberg in his color-blindness is nonetheless in denial because he doesn’t consider the racial impact of NYPD’s “stop and frisk” practices on young minority males — whose profiling by police is legion and fits the stereotype of “criminal.”

I also don’t get the mayor’s resolve to have the public schools chancellor track black and Latino males in schools — and study them as if they’re guinea pigs for tips about ways to raise their academic achievement and self-esteem. According to the mayor, all-male academies should provide strong clues for assessing educational strategies. Some of them may do that, some won’t — but these academies aren’t to be judged as “working” or failing on the premise that they enroll and serve an all-male minority student body. Indeed, there is no social science evidence to support any notion that all-male academies per se are the models for academic success much less excellence. Even if there was, it would be unprecedented and unwise public policy for such a separatist governmental approach to the schooling of “at risk” minority males.

Studying black and Latino men is plain stupid. And the misguided emphasis on their moral instruction by special tutoring and targeted efforts at job training and paid internships is only exacerbated by approaches at “mentoring” them in life skills — that is, casting a long shadow on and blaming black and Latino men singularly for siring children out of wedlock. It takes two to tango; moreover, a beleaguered community of whatever ethnicity is not at fault for the mistakes of a couple who don’t use caution when having sex or who intentionally look to having babies for their self-esteem.

Mainly, I am opposed to this Young Men’s scheme because the black and Latino community is dis-served by good-intentioned paternalism — such strategies for addressing the racial gap between non-whites and their peers are doomed to fail because they are trying to sell hope through charity and group blame. Noblesse oblige is not a program of social change; it won’t make the public schools functional or improve instruction or for that matter train a single person for real jobs. Noblesse oblige is pure and simple charity — that takes the form of handouts and differential treatment of people of color from others similarly situated in conditions of poverty and despair. This noblesse wittingly or unwittingly overlook the underlying causes of why so many minorities are involved with the criminal justice system, drop out of school, and can’t find work. At the heart of this missionary zeal is what scholar Theodore Cross describes as “the human desire to rescue the life of a less fortunate person” which “produces, it seems, a parallel need to defame the character of the victim who is often said to be unable to help himself.” Stout-hearted liberals can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to defaming black people. Blacks, historically, have been regarded as “the white man’s burden.”

So, I strongly disagree with this the so-called “black male problem” analysis. It is akin to how pseudo-scholars and scientific racists used to study and discuss “the Negro problem” — or, as some put it, “the problem of ‘the Negro.’” The reasons for the racial gap through the looking glass of racial and sex stereotype and prejudice has always been distorted by myopic focus on the skin color of miscreants within the black community. Single-parent households, overcrowded prisons, and failing public schools must be addressed and remedied for what they are, big problems — but not through gimmickry, and not through defining social distress as a “black male problem.”

Crime has no color — as my mentor Roy Wilklns of the NAACP used to say: “A punk is a punk”; and I will add that low-lifes who are career criminals, who commit violent felonies, belong in prison — rather than placed ahead of the long line for employment training and scarce jobs. They aren’t that vast an underclass — in fact, the career violent criminals represent a tiny portion of the black, Latino and American community — a segment with which I neither identify nor would coddle.

The jobs and mentoring and paid internships and better schooling efforts should be focused on the young people who are breaking the patterns of dysfunction, who are staying in school, using the library, working part-time, who are achieving despite the odds of their ghettoization and impoverishment. In this regard there are also many poor Asians and poor whites, and girls and young women, too, of all colors and ethnicity, who are struggling and deserve a helping hand — and their exclusion from the city’s Young Men’s Initiative is not only troubling, it is wrong — and discriminatory in ways that are very likely a violation of federal and state civil rights laws.

Read the article on the Huffington Post’s website:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-meyers/mayor-bloombergs-discrimi_b_922095.html

Racial Politics and the Non-White Vassals of White Politicians

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

By Michael Meyers

I am cussin’ every time I turn on the TV and hear liberal pundits accuse the GOP Presidential candidates of outright racism and of the use of racial code words. It’s as if we’re existing in a pre-civil rights revolution time warp instead of the 21st century where race in America ain’t what it used to be.

The charges of racism are interspersed with accusations of class warfare inasmuch as Mitt Romney, the pundits say, admitted to being unconcerned with the very poor, they who have a safety net, according to Romney. Conservatives, too, bandy about bold allegations of class warfare, when they criticize President Barack Obama’s campaign rhetoric, accusations which the liberal pundits cite as further examples of race-baiting by white conservatives against America’s first African-American president.

Say what?

When it comes to racial paranoia MSNBC is in a bizarro world of its own. Andrea Mitchell, among others, decried Newt Gingrich’s racial overtones as “dog whistles” aimed at white voters. Chris Matthews piped in, accusing The Newt of the racially charged use of “Juan” when Gingrich answered a question from journalist Juan Williams during the South Carolina debate. And MSNBC star host Rachel Maddow inveighed that Gingrich, when he chastised Obama as “Entertainer-in-Chief — for Obama’s having crooned at the Apollo Theater–was depicting Obama as a minstrel; she said Gingrich’s criticism was sheer race-baiting, an example of Gingrich’s “calling out to minstrelsy.”

Obama as minstrel.

Obama as shirker.

Obama as incompetent — these are, to the liberal pundits, all racial code words — examples of GOPers vying for his job engaging in modern-day racism.

It’s as if every critical word of Barack Obama is to be dissected for proof that the GOP candidates running for President are crude or subtle racists; and their non-white backers and party members are castigated as mere vassals of the white power structure, and as traitors to their race. The harshest calumny has been aimed at GOP Congressman Allen West; but Herman Cain, Ron Christie, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley have been ripped too by malicious name-calling based on their race and their political persuasion. The noisy whisper is, “How can any self-respecting black, Latino or Asian front for this crop of Republicans who are so hostile to civil rights and who use racial coda to appeal to an angry white electorate?”

I am a civil rights specialist and I know something about racism — in its overt and subtle forms — and many guises. But I am still waiting for hard evidence that Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum are running a Southern strategy for the White House prize — seeking and intending to divide the electorate along racial lines, passions and fears. Yes, yes, yes, I know, the “historian” Gingrich has accused President Obama of being the “food stamps president,” but that was a laughable moment, not racial coda. Everybody knows, except the “historian” Gingrich, that LBJ was our “food stamps president.” It was Johnson, the former segregationist, who established the federal food stamp program as a response to a national hunger and malnutrition crisis. In fact, as everyone knows, most Americans on food stamps are whites, not blacks.

Still, the pundits at MSNBC assure me that Gingrich is race-baiting when he calls Obama “the food stamps president,” and that Romney, the patrician, is out of touch with black and poor folks because he is, after all, a very wealthy man. But wasn’t also JFK, and Nelson Rockefeller, and FDR? Wealth alone is not the litmus test for being “out of touch.” Nor is double speak, constant compromise, or pretense at caring for the downtrodden sure signs of progressive politics.

And what about this charge of minstrelsy? More than black politicians have been singing for votes. He was off-key, but we all heard Mitt Romney sing “America The Beautiful.” And Herman Cain, until his voice grew hoarse from denying sexual harassment allegations sang gospel. “Amazing Grace” made a comeback as an American standard more than a few times when Cain took the stage. I saw none of this singing as racial much less the criticism of it as racial coda, no more than I interpreted the many charges harassment charges against Cain, from white and black women, as “racist.”

Obama, as a “minstrel,” is MSNBC’s invention.

Now, I know that racists, racial buffoons, and race hustlers come in many shapes and guises, but I need firmer evidence that the current field of GOP candidates — backed up by their non-white supporters — are running the old race game on us. Yet the only thing MSNBC keeps putting in our face and harping on is their bottom line, seemingly, that a black man who is president can’t get no respect.

Of course, I know that we have not yet stamped out racism completely in America. That is exactly why it is so important not to trivialize racism by calling things racist that they are not. False accusations repeated again and again do not make a truth. Liberals should know better than to keep crying racism, falsely. because we need everyone on board and everyone’s attention when we spot and fight real outbreaks of racism and skin color discrimination.

I just don’t fancy Newt Gingrich — he’s wrong, wrong, wrong — and block-headed and intemperate on so many issues. His meanness turns me cold — but isn’t that enough of a criticism of him? Do we need go “there” — that is, conjure up that he is being racist whe he is talking plainly and acerbically?

If the insinuations and outright accusations of GOP racism are real — that the GOPers seeking to evict the first African-American President from the Oval Office are racist, and they are trying to return America to its antebellum period of race relations, then why haven’t the journalists at MSNBC asked a single salient question of the “historian” Newt Gingrich, and of Ron Paul, and the others, about race prejudice and discrimination in America? Such a question is not about food stamps. The genuine article of a question — which should have been asked in South Carolina — on the night of Martin L. King, Jr.’s birthday — is this: “What would you have advised President Eisenhower to do with the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to outlaw public school segregation — a decision that overruled many Southerners’ concept of states’ rights? Would you have urged President Ike to ignore the decision? Would you have had the nine justices hauled before the Congress to explain themselves? In your vision of federalism, is the federal law and the Constitution the supreme law of the land, which trumps claims of states’ rights, those who said states had a right to deny persons because of their skin color equal protection under the law?”

Newt Gingrich’s reply to such a real question would have been telling; he would have, I suspect, had to backtrack on his absurd declaration of war on the federal judiciary. Even Ron Paul, who laments the 1964 Civil Rights Act, would not today urge its repeal. That’s because they know America is finished with racial segregation of old. We can’t go backwards on race relations and fundamental civil rights protections — and every candidate, white and black, who wants to get elected, knows that.

We’re a lot more advanced on the race question than the MSNBC pundits give us viewers and Americans credit for.

It’s also sad that MSNBC’s pundits don’t yet get that not every white conservative is a racist at heart and that not every black or non-white looks or thinks alike. There are some non-whites who side with Romney; others (including youths) who salute Ron Paul; and some who say amen to Rick Santorum’s candidacy. Likewise, Gingrich is drawing support from those citizens and immigrants who think like Gingrich has the right idea about not deporting the undocumented. These GOPers and independents are of different faiths, various skin colors, and ethnicity.. They include Herman Cain, who backs Gingrich, and Nikki Haley, who backs Romney, and the youths who back Ron Paul. They do not think of themselves as turning back the clock on civil rights because of their political views and personal choices. The suggestion that they are either modern-day “racists” or enablers of turning us back to our discredited racial past is sheer racial rhetoric and poppycock.

The GOPers plainly and simply have a different view of things than most of us liberal Democrats. But even I can understand their frustration with big government, high taxation, and the broken promises of the DC establishment. They, and I, are beet red angry. We want things to change for the better. We long for JFK’s rising tide lifts all boats. But if that adage still holds, we haven’t seen or felt that as yet. Hence, that is why we do see a rising chorus of minorities who are criticizing Obama, the incumbent, and who are breaking party ranks, and joining forces with others, black and white, also are fed up with government as we have known it. And they too also recoil at the rehtoric of Herman Cain about how blacks are on the Democratic Party plantation. That’s utter nonsense and he knew it when he uttered that hyperbole. People don’t want to be labeled black or white or as “vassal” or “slave master;” that’s old-hat now as well as rancorous racial bluster.

The rainbow of divergent opinions about what we should do to fix things is healthy, not symptomatic of going backwards on race. Labeling blacks and Latinos and Asians who support the party of Lincoln “today’s Uncle Toms” does not advance us one whit.

I strongly disagree with Congressman Allen West, ex-businessman Herman Cain, Senator Marco Rubio, and SC Governor Nikki Haley, but they’re entitled to their viewpoint and their choice of Presidential candidate and political party without being written off as traitors to their race and people.

Those more certain about the manifestations of racism than me — such as the MSNBC pundits — may think they know better than me and the rest of us who is and who isn’t “authentic” and who is and is not black or Latino or Asian. But I regard the rage of white liberals at MSNBC over the skin color of those who back limited government, low taxation, and who back GOPers over Obama, as singularly regressive, contrived and mischievous. Just because a man shares my skin color — or doesn’t — tells me no more than that; skin color in America today is not a proxy for anything solid and meaningful by way of prediction or evaluation of efforts. That’s what Dr. King struggled to achieve; and that’s what we have accomplished-in our victories over racial prejudice — the right of blacks and all who constitute racial minorities to be treated and regarded as individuals.

Let’s all take a deep breath and acknowledge: We have come a mighty long way as a nation in turning the corner on “race.” As we evaluate President Obama, and his GOP rivals — let’s ask ourselves — What does the candidate’s race really have to do with anything? MSNBC’s pundits may posit otherwise, but what do they really know about race?

Read this article on the Huffingont Post’s website:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-meyers/gop-racism_b_1263235.html