For Release: August 7, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
Black Activists Call on Obama to Condemn Race-Baiting Tactics in Health Care Debate
Washington, D.C. - The Project 21 black leadership network is condemning New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman for scurrilously pinning racist motives on critics of President Obama's health care proposals. The group is calling upon President Obama to condemn all efforts to derail legitimate public debate, specifically including this effort to stifle debate with race-baiting tactics.
"Paul Krugman is the one with race on the brain," Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie charged. "Specifically, he is using race in the lowest and most repulsive declinations. He is using it because every other argument to stem the growing tide of condemnation for the proposed health care reform bill has failed. Ergo, when all else fails, parade out the race card and attempt to incite blacks into becoming the useful idiots."
"Opposition to the proposed health care bill isn't based on race," Massie added. "It is based on a people who are tired of Congress and the President spitting in their faces. It is the collective resolve of a people who are tired of being tread upon. One would think a Nobel prize-winner such as Krugman could figure that out."
Krugman's racial comments generated outrage from many Project 21 members, including:
Joe Hicks (Los Angeles, California):
"I must have somehow missed the articles from Krugman and other liberal and leftist members of the mainstream media that were critical of the activities of ACORN - the radical, leftist group Barack Obama once represented. Somehow, their heavy-handed activities - that many argue bent the boundaries of legality - were just considered to be the organized expression of disadvantaged communities."
Now the same shameless, clueless writers are trying to convince us that those Americans who rightfully feel threatened by government-run health care and confront Obama's noxious scheme at public forums are somehow the acts of a 'mob.' Krugman reveals his bias by admitting that people are genuinely angry without bringing himself to understand exactly why they are mad. Smearing the rightful anger and concern of everyday Americans as collections of angry, old white folks - or part of the 'birthers' movement - shows the elitist disdain that liberal journalists such as Krugman have for democracy in action."
Joe Hicks is a Pajamas Television commentator and vice president of Community Advocates, Inc. of Los Angeles. He is a former executive director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and former executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Deneen Borelli (East Chester, New York):
"Krugman's commentary shows he is as out of touch as many of our elected officials are with real Americans. What's happening at town hall meetings has nothing to do with race and everything to do with concern over the rapid expansion of government."
Americans are frustrated that letters, phone calls and e-mails to their elected representatives have had no impact on significant pieces of legislation such as cap-and-trade and stimulus spending. Americans are taking the next logical step by directly voicing their opinions to their representatives at town hall meetings."
Deneen Borelli is a full-time fellow with Project 21. She serves on the board of Trustees of The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York and previously served as Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
Bishop Council Nedd II (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania):
"I have nothing to do with the 'birther' issue, but I do have concerns about health care. So do the people in my parishes and in the local diner where I eat every day. Living in central Pennsylvania, these truly are the people portrayed in the Norman Rockwell painting about freedom of speech that Krugman reference in his column. To imply these people are now racists is racist in itself.
Approximately half of the U.S. population didn't vote for Obama in the first place. Why is Krugman shocked that there is opposition to the Obama health care plan, and that people dare to voice their concern at public meetings? The Obama plan inserts government officials into end-of-life decisions for seniors and those among us with the least. That is not a race issue, that is a privacy issue. The Obama plan has given a whole new meaning to the idea of government for the people. This health plan is a bitter pill shoved down people's throat against their will.
Council Nedd is an Anglican bishop serving the Diocese of the Chesapeake.
Bob Parks (Athol, Massachusetts):
"Why is it when liberals want to make their points, their knee-jerk reaction is to go racial? Paul Krugman is supposedly a journalist. Before throwing out the race card while speculating, he should give us some attributed quotes. Minus that, what he thinks is irrelevant."
Bob Parks is a Project 21 member and media commentator. He runs the Black and Right website.
Jimmie Hollis (Millville, New Jersey):
"I knew the moment Obama became a presidential candidate that anyone disagreeing with him would be called a racist, and that any opposition to his political views would be seen as racism. The left has always played the race card because it works."
But I am nonetheless happy to see that people on the right and many in the middle are now beginning to speaking out firmly and with passion against policies they oppose. President Obama should speak out and condemn Paul Krugman racial commentary."
Jimmie L. Hollis is a Project 21 member and is retired from the U.S. Air Force, in which he served from 1962-1987.
Geoffrey Moore (Chicago, Illinois):
"This is not about race. It is about government control. The system is not perfect, but there is no need to have the government take over control of the entire health care system. The government has not demonstrated the ability to efficiently control costs and provide good service.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who are not up in arms about their insurance. There are people who are somewhat pleased with the coverage they have. The government getting involved will create enormous expense and waste, while creating more problems than they intend to solve."
Geoffrey Moore is a Project 21 member and marketing analyst in Chicago.
In his Times commentary, "The Town Hall Mob," Krugman wrote:
[T]he driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that's behind the "birther" movement, which denies Mr. Obama's citizenship... And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers.
Does this sound familiar? It should: it's a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites.
Many people hoped that last year's election would mark the end of the "angry white voter" era in America. Indeed, voters who can be swayed by appeals to cultural and racial fear are a declining share of the electorate.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or Project21@nationalcenter.org, or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.