Exposing racism on the House floor; Rep. Bobby Rush should apologize

Former Defense Minister of the Illinois Black Panther Party Rep. Bobby Rush should apologize for his 'hoodie stunt' on the House floor. But he's not the only one who should apologize. Photo: AP

CHICAGO, Il., March 29, 2012—The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and a fleet of pseudo soldiers in the war on racism have all been in a fit tripping over themselves in a last ditch quest to make racism the hot-button issue of the 2012 elections.

Their vehicle of choice? The controversy surrounding the shooting death in Florida of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year-old African American teenager, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. 

A special prosecutor is now investigating the case. But that has not put a halt to all the racial grandstanding.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has proclaimed, “Blacks are under attack.”

“We are tired of going to jail for nothing and others going home for something,” railed the Rev. Al Sharpton.”

Even President Obama has inserted himself into the controversy. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

So what, if anything, do these politicians have to gain by all this racial hand-wringing?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Admittedly, the old guard civil rights leader wannabes have been in something of a funk: It is much harder to argue that racism is as pervasive as it was during the height of the Civil Rights Movement when an African American is the Leader of the Free World.

But racial tension – especially the manufactured kind - is the bread and butter of folks like Jackson, Sharpton, and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who donned a hoodie on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday morning. 

Rush embarrassed himself, the House and the country with this stunt. Showboating is not attractive, but showboating as race-baiting is despicable. A public apology is appropriate, but not expected.

The sitting congressman has a history of embarrassing himself and the country.

Rush, the former Defense Minister of the Illinois Black Panthers, tax evader and parking ticket skofflaw, not to mention a possible child support deadbeat, has been on my radar since 1994 when, barging into his Chicago press conference, I very publicly confronted him with copies of his back property tax liens totaling more than $50,000.

A day after the mid-term elections in 2010, Chicago-based New City Bank filed a $500,000 lawsuit against Rush for his failure to pay $11,466.68 in property taxes on a private-gated property in Michigan, and $2,172.81 in taxes on a Chicago condo.

But in response to uncomfortable questions, Rush always plays the race and victim card. “My name is not Popcorn Willie. I will not be intimidated by the press, nor by the powers that be… I’m not intimidated by the press, and I’m not intimidated by slanderers and falsehoods,” Rush has said in past statements. 

When pressed for answers about his unpaid taxes and child support history, Rush has also invoked the names of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, who was killed in a police raid, and O.J. Simpson, creating a two step of abstract-distract.

Records from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office detail Rep. Bobby Rush’s heavily checkered past of federal and local liens, and lawsuits to force him to pay what he owes. (Fig. 1).

But for race, how many public officials have survived the political landscape with a record like this?

Rush is not the only one to use or misuse race relations. Both Jackson and Sharpton – the granddaddies of affirmative action - have turned the business of racism into a cottage industry.

In 1982, Rev. Jesse Jackson launched a “This Bud’s a Dud” boycott of Anheuser Busch, citing only three black-owned distributors nationwide. In 1992, Budweiser’s Chicago distributorship was accused by several black employees of denying them promotions.

Fig. 1 Source: Cook County Recorder of Deeds

After the first EEOC suit was filed in 1997, Jackson came to the aid of the employees. Bowing to pressure, Anheuser Busch contributed $10,000 to Jackson’s Citizenship Education Fund, more than $500,000 to the Rainbow PUSH coalition, and established a $10 million fund to help non-whites buy distributorships.

By 1998, the Chicago distributorship was purchased by two of Jackson’s sons, Yusef and Jonathan Jackson.

The Jacksons never disclosed how much they paid, but the business was said to be worth an estimated $25 to $30 million. His sons had no prior experience in alcoholic distribution or any other business.

Only eight months after he helped Comcast and NBC secure Federal Communications Commission approval for their controversial $30 billion merger, Al Sharpton was rewarded with a prime-time spot on MSNBC.

Michael Copps, a Democrat, had voted against the Comcast-NBC merger, declaring that it would “erode diversity, localism and competition” in broadcasting.

But Mignon Clyburn, the only minority member on the FCC, threw her decisive support behind the deal, citing a comprehensive diversity memorandum of agreement (MOU) signed by Sharpton.

The civil rights leader’s three prior attempts at hosting a show had flopped after only a few episodes.

So much for affirmative action – except, that is, for Sharpton.

There are serious questions in the Trayvon Martin case to be sure; but the facts are not as black and white as these self-interested political leaders would have you believe.

In fact, they are not black and white at all. 

Conservative satirist and commentator William J. Kelly is also a contributor to Breitbart.com and edits the Tea Party Reports for the Washington Times Communities. He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

Email questions to him at williamjkellyrebuild@gmail.com.

Find him on Facebook/Williamjpkelly

Read more of Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad in The Communities at the Washington Times


Read more about this tragedy:

Trayvon Martin: Between life and death, a hoodie and a sweat shirt

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, round two: Unanswered questions (Video)

Hoodie on the House floor: an outrage or a legitimate protest? (Video)

Hunger Games in Florida: Fear made Trayvon Martin’s death a certainty

Miami Heat tweet support for Trayvon Martin (Hoodies Up video)

Trayvon Martin:  the marketing of the victim

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit www.kellytruthsquad.com.

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