A friend of mine sent me this article yesterday in an attempt to inform me that Howard Dean was really a racist. I had to just laugh when I read the article, at first, because Dean's platform is so pro-civil rights and pro-racial equality that it was more than a little funny to me that anyone would be asinine enough to launch those allegations.
But when I read the article, I was more than a little angry at Al Sharpton. He had distorted the truth just enough to make Dean's intent sound questionable. I decided not to blog the article so as not to perpetuate the negative, inaccurate propoganda. And hoped it would just go away, I guess.
This morning, I awoke to a very pleasant rebuttle by Jesse Jackson, strongly criticizing Al Sharpton for his inaccurate remarks and reaffirming what I already knew about Howard Dean: that he is pro-civil rights and pro-affirmative action.
Clearly, Gov. Dean is not anti-black and it is ridiculous for Rev. Sharpton to compare him to President George Bush in that regard. When it comes to addressing issues that directly affect African Americans, and indirectly affects all Americans, Gov. Dean clearly has good record. Up until this point - until I indicated my intention to endorse Gov. Dean - the Democratic campaign has been free of such racial rhetoric. I would recommend that it remain so. Such rhetoric will not contribute to defeating George W. Bush in 2004. Indeed, it will insure his re-election.
Here is the text of both articles in case the link goes bad. (The Al Sharpton article in the Washington Post is below the Jesse Jackson statement.)
Jackson Urges Democrats to Accentuate the Positive
Calls On All Democrats To Reject Racial Rhetoric
Congressman Jesse L. Jackson
t r u t h o u t | Statement
Tuesday 28 October 2003
Congressman Jesse L. Jackson today said, "Al Sharpton is making a great contribution to the Democratic Party with his performances in the debates, his inspirational speeches on the campaign trail, his raising of the political consciousness of voters on issues that many of the other candidates will not touch, and by bringing new voters into the process.
"But no contribution of the Rev. Al Sharpton has been greater than the role he has played of statesman in the debates - of urging fellow competitors to `first do not harm' to one another. It was Al Sharpton who said in the first debate in South Carolina, televised by ABC, that the 'Democrats should not have a debate and George Bush turn out to be the winner.' He has constantly reminded his fellow Democratic presidential candidates that the goal is to defeat President Bush in November, 2004. He has also said that while he understands there will be competition between each of them, none of them should do any harm to the other candidates that would prevent them from defeating George Bush.
"Unfortunately, Rev. Sharpton has rejected his own advice. The spirit of Rev. Sharpton's release in that regard is over-the-top and mostly inaccurate. Rev. Sharpton is inaccurate when he says that Howard Dean is `opposed to affirmative action.' Even the 1995 quote he attributes to Gov. Dean is not a statement 'opposed' to affirmative action, but an argument for a broader criteria. More importantly, during this campaign Governor Dean has clearly stated for the record that he supports affirmative action based on race, gender and class - which is what the law requires.
"Whoever the ultimate nominee of the Democratic Party is I intend to support - and I will not agree with them on every issue. Gov. Dean and I may just have to agree to disagree on the death penalty. However, I would remind Rev. Sharpton that both he and I supported Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 even though he supported the death penalty and ending welfare as we know it - both of which we disagreed with.
"With respect to gun control, Gov. Dean supports all of the common sense FEDERAL laws and proposed laws with respect to renewal of the assault weapons ban, holding gun manufacturers responsible, adequately checking purchasers at gun shows. But beyond that he argues that different states have different needs, and I agree. Not every state values hunters and hunting equally and I respect and agree with Gov. Dean in that regard.
"I don't understand why I am being singled out. Rep. Major Owens, from New York, endorsed Gov. Dean some time ago, but none of these issues were raised. No member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has endorsed Rev. Sharpton, and there were other members of the CBC in the New York Times article who indicated that they too may be on the verge of endorsing Gov. Dean.
"I also don't understand Rev. Sharpton's attempt to introduce 'race' into the campaign by using such rhetoric as `anti-black' with respect to Gov. Dean. I challenge all of the other candidates to urge Rev. Sharpton to resist using such inflammatory rhetoric.
"Clearly, Gov. Dean is not anti-black and it is ridiculous for Rev. Sharpton to compare him to President George Bush in that regard. When it comes to addressing issues that directly affect African Americans, and indirectly affects all Americans, Gov. Dean clearly has good record. Up until this point - until I indicated my intention to endorse Gov. Dean - the Democratic campaign has been free of such racial rhetoric. I would recommend that it remain so. Such rhetoric will not contribute to defeating George W. Bush in 2004. Indeed, it will insure his re-election.
Sharpton Calls Dean's Agenda 'Anti-Black'
By Brian Faler
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, October 29, 2003; Page A08
Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton launched a blistering attack on Howard Dean yesterday, accusing his rival of promoting an "anti-black agenda."
"Howard Dean's opposition to affirmative action, his current support for the death penalty and historic support of the NRA's [National Rifle Association's] agenda amounts to an anti-black agenda that will not sell in communities of color in this country," Sharpton said in a statement.
He said his comments were in response to a news report yesterday that Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) plans to endorse Dean, the former Vermont governor and presumed front-runner for the 2004 Democratic nomination. Sharpton has had a long-standing rivalry with the congressman's father, Jesse L. Jackson, who twice ran for president.
"Any so-called African American leader that would endorse Dean despite his anti-black record is mortgaging the future of our struggle for civil rights and social justice," Sharpton said.
His statement cited a 1995 interview in which Dean appeared to question the need for affirmative action programs based solely on race. "I think we ought to look at affirmative action programs based not on race but on class," Dean said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Responding to Sharpton's comments, Dean's deputy campaign manager, Andi Pringle, said: "Governor Dean has always been a strong supporter of affirmative action, and he believes there is still a great need for affirmative action in America."
Until now, the Dean campaign's brushes with racial issues have been less vitriolic. Earlier this year, some critics, noting that Dean comes from a heavily white state and campaigns extensively via the Internet, questioned his ability to reach low-income and minority voters.
In a Sept. 9 candidates forum in Baltimore, Dean said he was "the only white politician that ever talks about race in front of white audiences." Several rivals pointed to speeches that disproved Dean's assertion, which Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) called divisive.
Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, yesterday dismissed Sharpton's attacks as a ploy to boost his standing in the polls.
"I think Dean's record on civil rights issues, on affirmative action -- his willingness to talk about race in a very inclusive way -- has been refreshing," said Brazile, who is African American. "These long-shot candidates, all they're doing is taking aim at the top tier because they're frustrated. I think Reverend Sharpton should keep his focus on ideas."
Posted by Lisa at October 30, 2003 06:11 AM