Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – June 22, 2012

Shelden Adelson is one of the wealthiest men in America. He thinks President Obama should be defeated and is prepared to spend $100 million to make that happen. Welcome to the 21st century edition of the American Way. Meanwhile Professor Frederick Harris of Columbia University seems to feel that trashing the Obama presidency is his way of exercising academic freedom – but whatever happened to responsibility? And finally, Adidas came out with a sports shoe that has shackles attached……really. Protest was predictable. What was also predictable is the lack of attention to the context in which such a product could be sold.

Can You Spare $100 Million?

For those of you keeping score at home, the Citizens United decision by the rightwing of the rightwing of the United State Supreme Court has opened the way for unlimited sums of money to be spent on campaigns by individuals and corporations. By equating the uncontrolled expenditure of money with freedom of speech the RobertsScaliaThomasAlito cabal has guaranteed is that the only remaining question will be the extent to which abuse and excess will be seen.

Working hard to be the Poster Boy for Campaign Excess is Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson, who is reported to be worth $20 billion, made his fortune as a glorified bookie and innkeeper, building and operating hotels and casinos in Las Vegas and now Macao.

Although his enormous wealth continues to grow exponentially, he has come to the conclusion that President Obama is bad for business and so he has announced that he is prepared to spend $100 million to defeat him in the upcoming election. And, we should all keep in mind that $100 million for Sheldon Adelson would be about $40 for a middle class family in this country.

In other words, wealthy individuals and large corporations can skew the political process and screw the American people for an investment that is less than a pittance for them.

And, thanks to the Citizens United decision there is nothing wrong with this.

The Revenge of the Little People

Dr. Frederick Harris is the director of the Center on African American Politics at Columbia University. In the midst of his sublime isolation in his ivy covered ebony tower he has published a book which asserts that the presidency of Barack Obama is a “disappointment” and unworthy of the struggles and sacrifices of the civil rights movement.

Dr. Harris must have uncovered some heretofore unknown document which sets forth the election of a black president as a stated goal of the civil rights movement. The election of Barack Obama is clearly related to the civil rights movement in that advances in voting, employment and academic opportunity helped to create an environment in which he could have been elected. But to suggest that the election of a black president has ever been a goal of the civil rights movement is not supported by any real evidence and makes no sense.

The problem with Dr. Harris, as with other ebony tower occupants, is that he will be taking no responsibility for the negative impact of his book as the presidential campaign begins in earnest. To the extent that some people will read his book and even fewer people will pay him any attention. Dr. Harris can serve to erode the edges of Barack Obama’s support at a time when literally every vote counts.

The inauguration of President Mitt Romney might be a bit bothersome for Dr. Harris but he will still be a tenured professor at one of the leading universities in the world with all the compensation, benefits and trappings that go along with the package.

But I would ask him the same question that I would ask Dr. Cornel West and the other Ebony Tower rock throwers – if Barack Obama is defeated and a Romney Administration takes over in 2013, what will you say to the millions of Americans who will suffer – many of them black – when Mitt Romney keeps the draconian promises that he has made during this campaign?

I’m just asking.

Shackled to Stupidity

This past week we learned that the Adidas shoe company had planned to sell a sneaker that featured ankle shackles. It is not clear if the shackles were meant to invoke images of slavery or prison but the uproar was both predictable and puzzling.

Wearing prison garb, complete with bandanas and sagging, oversize pants has been in fashion in the black community for years. Ankle shackles would just seem to be the next logical fashion step to take. High profile individuals like Jay-Z and Kanye West have made fortunes promoting misogynistic and violent behavior in the black community. When Jay-Z and Kanye West recorded and released “Niggas in Paris” last year there was not even a peep of protest – anywhere.

We are now supposed to believe that Adidas was misguided because it did not have a more diverse marketing team. Given the self-degradation and stupidity that has been created and sold by black people during the past thirty years, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were black people in the room at Adidas on the day that sneakers with shackles were approved.

Have a great weekend!

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One thought on “Weekend Edition – June 22, 2012

  1. Robin Thomas Poponne says:

    Bob Marley said we are forward in this generation but far too many are either taking us backwards or just going along for that ride. We can check the shackles on the soles but not the ones on the souls or minds of too many of our people.

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